2013 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Verdict
Auf Wiedersehen, My Good Friend
Our long-term Volkswagen Jetta GLI came to us all the way back in October 2012. In the 14 months we had it, we racked up an impressive 27,519 miles! During that time, we've tested it with four different sets of tires and two sets of wheels. We've tried everything from the OE rolling stock with all-season rubber to super high-performance Michelin Pilot Supersports on OZ wheels. I went camping in it twice, and used it to explore vast chunks of Southern California, from the beaches to Joshua Tree and the southern Sierras. The GLI rarely sat stationary for long.
The reason behind this restlessness, in my opinion, is that the GLI is overall a pretty nice car. Early in its term, executive editor Ron Kiino called the GLI a "bargain Audi A4," and that sentiment always stuck with me. For considerably less money than an A4, you get a slick-looking, sporty German sedan with all the trimmings. Ours came fully loaded with the Autobahn and navigation packages, nice- looking 18-inch Bathurst wheels, bi-xenon headlights, heated sport seats covered in smooth and easy-to-clean leatherette, backup camera, sunroof, and Volkswagen's DSG dual-clutch gearbox.
The interior was one of the most impressive parts about the GLI. In my last update, I looked at the similarities between the Jetta and the much larger Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The Jetta was almost identical in many areas and surpassed the mighty Merc in others, including besting its rear leg room by 2.3 inches. I find that amazing, considering the GLI has a similarly sized trunk, and the Jetta does it all in a package that is 9.9 inches shorter in overall length. The GLI has a fairly spacious trunk, especially for its size. At 15.5 cubic feet, it easily swallows multiple overnight bags and, on occasion, camping gear and firewood. Folding the rear seats further extends the cargo capabilities, allowing for longer items such as a 5-foot TV stand after an impromptu stop at the furniture store.
I have always found Volkswagens to have excellent driver's compartments, and the GLI did not disappoint. The seats are comfortable and decently bolstered. With plenty of seat adjustability and a tilting/telescoping steering column, it's easy to find a good position. Visibility is good all around, yet I still feel like I'm sitting in a cockpit rather than on top of the car, as in some older VW products. Even during 5-7-hour trips, I never felt overly fatigued or uncomfortable. The Fender stereo system sounds good, and the navigation system, although rarely used, is intuitive and never led me astray. I did use the Bluetooth connectivity constantly, mostly to play Pandora through the audio system after my satellite radio subscription lapsed.
Compared with my previous long-term Civic Si, the GLI is considerably quieter on the road, which is great for longer trips and means you don't have to raise your voice when talking with your backseat passengers.
Although the turbo 2.0-liter puts out only 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque, the GLI feels sporty and has a very throaty exhaust note. Considering the small displacement of the turbo-four, the Jetta is a little greedy with fuel. We saw an average of 24.3 mpg, barely beating the EPA city rating of 24, which is fairly disappointing considering the long-term Civic Si managed to get 24.7 mpg out of a larger (2.4- liter), naturally aspirated four-cylinder that loved to rev. Although the Jetta is capable of 400-plus-mile journeys on a tank, most fill-ups happened around the 300-mile mark. Some of the fuel economy issues can definitely be attributed to my driving style and large chunks of time spent in Los Angeles traffic, but the same was true in the Civic and it managed better. The Jetta also outweighs its Japanese competitor by a couple hundred pounds, which doesn't help.
Reliability was never an issue. I took the GLI in for service twice, and both visits were fully covered under the Volkswagen's Carefree Maintenance program, which covers basic service intervals for the first 3 years or 36,000 miles. Not covered under warranty was our cracked windshield, setting us back more than $800, and minor body damage that occurred late in our loan. I always found the dealership experience to be pleasant and professional.
I grew extremely attached to the GLI during my time with it. Having owned three Volkswagens in the past, I can definitely say the GLI was my favorite. I wish fuel economy were a little better and I wish the brakes felt more direct. It isn't as sharp as its GTI brethren or maybe even the Civic Si, but it feels refined and is still fun to drive. Before you march in and buy that new A4, cruise over to VW and take a GLI for a spin. I bet you'll like it.
|Service Life||13 mo / 27,512 mi|
|Price as Tested||$30,095|
|Options||Autobahn Package ($2250: Fender sound system, sunroof, 18-in alloys), Navigation Package ($2005: navigation, backup camera, bi-xenon headlights), DSG ($1100)|
|Average C02||0.80 lb/mi|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Con||24/32/27 mpg|
|Average Fuel Economy||24.3 mpg|
|Maintenance Cost||$0 (2-oil change, inspection; 1-rotate tires; 1-pollen filter)|
|3-Year Residual Value*||$15,649|
|*Automotive Lease Guide|
Here at Motor Trend, we often harp on automakers for not putting summer tires on their performance vehicles, or at least offering them. Case in point: our long-term Volkswagen Jetta GLI, which came standard with all-season Dunlops. While a summer Bridgestone was an OE option when the GLI debuted for 2012, the 2013 model year went exclusively with all-season rubber.
So, along with contacting Tire Rack for two sets of summer tires -- Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position and Michelin Pilot Super Sport, each mounted on handsome OZ Superturismo LM wheels -- we reached out to Vredestein for a set of its best summer tire, which we mounted on the stock Bathurst wheels. As you can see in the chart below, the performance upgrades were noteworthy. Now you know why we harp!
|Tire||Dunlop SP Sport 01 A/S 225/40R18 XL 92H||Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position 225/40R18 XL 92Y||Michelin Pilot Super Sport 225/40R18 XL 92Y||Vredestein Ultrac Vorti 225/40R18 XL 92Y|
|Tire cost||$185 (Tire Rack)||$144 (Tire Rack)||$212 (Tire Rack)||$185 (est)|
|Tire weight||22 lb||25 lb||22 lb||25 lb|
|Wheel||Volkswagen OE Bathurst by Borbet 7.5 x 18-in||OZ Superturismo LM 7.5 x 18-in||OZ Superturismo LM 7.5 x 18-in||Volkswagen OE Bathurst by Borbet 7.5 x 18-in|
|Wheel cost||$250 (est)||$325 (Tire Rack)||$325 (Tire Rack)||$250 (est)|
|Wheel weight||29 lb||21 lb||21 lb||29 lb|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||123 ft||110 ft||116 ft||110 ft|
|Lateral acceleration||0.87 g||0.94 g||0.94 g||0.93 g|
|MT figure eight||26.5 sec @ 0.69 g||26.1 sec @ 0.70 g||25.8 @ 0.71 g||25.8 sec @ 0.70 g|
|2013 Volkswagen Jetta GLI|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front engine, FWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||Turbocharged I-4, iron block/alum head|
|VALVETRAIN||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||121.1 cu in/1984 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||200 hp @ 5100 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||207 lb-ft @ 1700 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||16.2 lb/hp|
|TRANSMISSION||6-speed twin-clutch auto.|
|AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO||4.06:1 (1-4); 3.14:1 (5-6,R)/2.39:1|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F;R||12.3-in vented disc; 10.7-in disc, ABS|
|WHEELS, F;R||7.5 x 18-in, cast aluminum|
|TIRES, F;R||225/40R18 92H M+S Dunlop SP Sport 01 A/S|
|TRACK, F/R||60.1/60.4 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||182.2 x 70.0 x 56.6 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||38.1 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||3247 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST., F/R||60/40%|
|HEADROOM, F/R||37.0/37.0 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||41.2/38.1 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||55.2/53.6 in|
|CARGO VOLUME||15.5 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||3.3|
|QUARTER MILE||15.1 sec @ 93.5 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||123 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.87 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.5 sec @ 0.69 g (avg)|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||2000 rpm|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$30,095|
|AIRBAGS||Dual front, front side, f/r curtain|
|BASIC WARRANTY||3 yrs/36,000 miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||5 yrs/60,000 miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||3 yrs/36,000 miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||14.5 gal|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||24/32/27 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY/COMB||140/105/125 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||0.72 lb/mile|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded premium|