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2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Review: When looks deceive

A few months back German auto giant Volkswagen rolled out the seventh generation of its Jetta compact sedan, and promised there would be a new GLI version to come. After some impatient waiting on the part of VW lovers, that promise has now been kept. But is it the sporty Jetta we’d hoped for?

The new Jetta, before we get into the GLI iteration, is built around the company’s new MQB platform that has generally been given thumbs up by automotive journalists. Which led many to expect big things from a spiffed-up GLI version.

What identity?
And yet, there’s something missing with this new Jetta GLI. And that something is a distinctive identity. The GTI, that sporty iteration of the Golf, is a head-turning kind of car when spotted on the road, but it’s difficult to say that about this GLI. The new edition, by the way, can be had with the optional 35 letter designation, since this year marks the 35th anniversary of production.

I’m not sure how this nondescript appearance came about, exactly, because Volkswagen did put some effort in reworking the exterior finishing of the model to distinguish it from the regular Jetta… to the point where that nameplate doesn’t even appear on the outer shell of the car! Anyways, the front grill is black with red accents. In fact the GLI gets a host of exclusive red elements. And of course, the GLI 35 gets its own unique alloy wheels. But still, meh. And that might be due in part to our tester being an all-grey affair, making it a tad anonymous.

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