A turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder is the only engine offered on the GLI for 2012. It makes 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque at just 1,700 rpm, which helps improve response and drivability. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, but Volkswagen also offers an optional 6-speed DSG automatic, which features steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Volkswagen says the powertrain should be good for 31 mpg highway with the manual and 32 mpg highway with the DSG automatic.
The GLI features a track-tuned 4-wheel independent suspension system much like what's used on the GTI, as well as the GTI's XDS differential system, which helps limit inside wheelspin under hard cornering. Four-wheel disc brakes with red calipers are standard across the line, all of which add up to much sharper handling and road feel than what's offered on other Jetta models.
Standard safety equipment includes driver and front passenger airbags, front side airbags, and side curtain airbags for both front and rear passengers. Other features include electronic stability control, tire pressure monitors, and Volkswagen's Intelligent Crash Response System, which automatically cuts power to the fuel pump, unlocks the doors, and turns on the 4-way hazard lights in certain types of accidents.
Three GLI trims are available for 2011: the GLI, GLI Autobahn and GLI Autobahn with Navigation. The GLI starts at $23,495, and features cloth sport seats with red stitching, a flat-bottom steering wheel, a 6.5-inch touchscreen stereo with Bluetooth and iPod connectivity and one-touch power windows on all four doors. The GLI Autobahn is priced at $25,545 and it takes the package one step further, offering 18-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, a Fender sound system, dual-zone climate control and heated V-Tex leatherette seats. The premium-level GLI Autobahn with Navigation is offered at $26,445, featuring in-dash navigation, as well as keyless entry with push-button start.