Friday, July 19, 2024
Should-you-buyShould You Buy a 2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI?

Should You Buy a 2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI?

The 2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is a smart replacement to an entry-level small premium car


  • Pricing for the Jetta starts at $23,295 in Canada, $20,665 in the US.

  • The Jetta GLI is an incredible sport compact bargain at $33,095 in Canada and $31,585 in the US.

  • 2024 marks 40 years of the GLI and Volkswagen will introduce an anniversary edition.


Although I’ve been a mega fan of the Volkswagen Golf GTI, I’ve never owned one – a tragic story for another time. I have however owned a 1992 Volkswagen Jetta GTX (the Canadian version of the GLI) since 2001. As such, the GLI has long since been a car near and dear to my heart which has allowed me to be very critical.

2024 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Marks 40th Anniversary with Limited-Edition Trim

And by critical, having owned a total of eight VW product since the start of the 21st century, I mean that I’ve openly criticized, and praised, many of the automaker’s vehicles over the years.

While I was with the 2023 Jetta GLI, I realized that VW was, as most automakers, moving away from its dedicated fanbase by syphoning out elements that appealed to them. Little did I know at the time that the German automaker was about to announce that the manual transmission was on its last legs in the GTI. This bit of news followed the death of the Golf altogether a few years earlier which was preceded the cancellation of the Golf Sportwagen. Recent history is showing that not all is well for VAG fans. Sure, they revealed the ID.GTI in Munich but we can all agree, nothing will ever be the same.

2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

That is except the Jetta GLI which, for at least another model year, will be offered with a manual transmission and decked out with a 40th Anniversary trim. For 2023 and 2024, the large-compact premium sport compact car will be identical which means that the question can be asked for both model years: Should you consider a 2023 or 2024 Jetta GLI?


Why you should buy a 2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI:

  • The Jetta GLI might be FWD only and visually more subdued, but it effortlessly replaces the A3 which retails for $10,000-12,000 more.

  • The GLI’s turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder produces 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, besting the A3’s power figures by a considerable amount. Speed piles on briskly and smoothly thanks to all the available torque.

  • The GLI is offered with either a brilliant 6-speed manual or a 7-speed DSG automatic transmission. Both are exemplary and perfectly suited to the car.

  • Ride quality is excellent. Few small cars are as refined as the GLI. One reason is the standard DCC (Dynamic Chassis Control) and its adjustable dampers.

  • Comfortable yes, however the Jetta GLI still handles properly, or nearly.

  • The cabin is excessively roomy, and the truck is more capacious than many compact hatchbacks.

  • Fit and finish are upscale for the most part, further convincing potential buyers that this is a near-premium automobile.

  • Out of the box and for the price, the GLI is absolutely loaded with heated leather seats, Beats audio, 18-inch wheels, an XDS front locking differential, a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel, and much more.

  • Finally, the GLI is surprisingly fuel efficient.

2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Why you should not buy a Volkswagen Jetta GLI: 

  • The MK7.5 Jetta is not exactly exciting to look at. Even in GLI guise, except for a few unique elements, it’s clear that the car’s body is meant to please “older” potential buyers.

  • Though comfy and capable of hugging curves, the GLI is not a pure sport compact car. It does not excel at being sporty and cannot replace the likes of the Honda Civic Si and Subaru WRX that are designed with specific purposes.

  • Because it’s intended as a small premium car alternative, it was also conceived for older potential buyers who might be closer to their mid-40s than mid-20s.


Conclusion:

2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The thing with the Volkswagen Jetta GLI is that it’s not “special” like some of its competitors, namely the Honda Civic Si and Subaru WRX. Unlike the GTI, the GLI does not hold the status of legend which has enabled Volkswagen to shift its focus on a broader audience. This is why the Hyundai Elantra N Line is more exciting and involving to drive.

Be all that as it may, the 2023 and 2024 Volkswagen Jetta GLI remains a very good car. If comfort, refinement, and some power are priorities, then the GLI is ideal. Should a driving experience, feedback, and a tad more rawness be desired, I’d opt for a WRX which is still the sport compact deal to be made.

2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

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Matt St-Pierre
Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai

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