2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI
If your budget for German cars doesn’t match either the Porsche 911 or Mercedes-Benz SLS, may we suggest hitting the starter switch to the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI.
The 2011 Jetta impressed us as a crisp and competent Euro sedan, despite being built in Mexico and lacking some of the spark of earlier Jettas. But all that changes for 2012, as the Jetta lineup gets a big boost with a new turbocharged GLI.
The 2-liter turbo 4-cylinder, which is shared with that icon of pocket rockets the Golf GTI, pumps out 200 horsepower. It shifts gears with a standard 6-speed manual gearbox, or DSG dual-clutch automatic which uses F1-style paddle shifters so you can play Sebastian Vettel all the way to the office. And unlike its rear torsion beam Jetta siblings, the GLI adds a sport-tuned multi-link rear suspension and cross-differential traction system that maximizes grip on twisty back roads as well as the car park roundabouts.
This jazzier Jetta shows off its new-found performance by wearing a more aggressive GTI-derived front end…..Sportier exhaust and tail-light treatments and a choice of razor-sharp 17 and 18-inch wheels. While the cabin, with its striking red accents and prominent alloy trim pieces, shouts “I’m fast!” even when you’re waiting in the drive-through for coffee.
It’s the Jetta that serious Volkswagen fans wanted all along, and accomplishes that for a price that won’t leave you needing a Euro-style bailout. The GLI is available now, starting at just over $25,000. That makes the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI a bargain of a German performance sedan that’s never bargain basement.
Engine: 2-liter turbo 4-cylinder
Price: Starting at just over $25,000