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2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Anniversary Edition

To celebrate the 35 years of the Jetta GLI, Volkswagen has commissioned 3,500 special edition models, and we're testing one of them. While we haven't had a chance to fully experience Volkswagen's Go-Fast compact cars until now, the GLI doesn't disappoint based on everything we've heard up until now.

The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta launched early into 2018 to help kick off the Mk7 generation for Volkswagen's compact sedan. Styling was consistent with the 8 year old Passat which we featured early in 2018 also but the interior technology got a serious improvement over the previous generation. We were very in-depth with our review of the 2019 Jetta Execline and knocked VW for removing the rear independent multi-link suspension along with obvious cost-cutting measures found in the trunk and interior areas.

But the 2019 GLI has solved at least one of those deficits from the Execline. The torsion beam has been swapped back to the multi-link rear suspension found on the Mk7 Golf/GTI, along with a GLI sport front shock absorbers. Volkswagen's Dynamic Chassis Control is also available on the 35th Anniversary Edition giving drivers a boost in overall driving dynamics over the regular Jetta. Additional GLI 35 upgrades include special badging on the fenders, a black deck lid spoiler, 18" Sevilla black rims with red lip rings, GLI 35 branding on the seat flags, floor mats, and illuminated front door sills.

Volkswagen says a special run of 3,500 35th Anniversary Edition GLIs will be made globally to help commemorate the first Jetta GLI from 1984. Considering the Golf GTI will be celebrating 45 years in 2020 we're hoping to see a special edition for the first generation of the Mk8 Golf next year. We definitely recommend getting one of these 35th Anniversary Editions if you're able to, especially if you're a fan of Volkswagen.

Our thoughts on the exterior and interior design and features for the GLI haven't changed from the regular Jetta. We're happy to see rear outboard heated seats becoming available on this trim, along with all the other fun stuff like ventilated and heated front seats, dual-zone climatronic climate control, ambient lighting, and a power driver's seat with two memory options. Volkswagen offers a $995 Driver Assistance Package which adds automatic high beams (for the LED lights), adaptive cruise control with stop & go (DSG only), blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert, along with autonomous emergency braking. Black leather interior is the only option available no matter which handful of grey/black/white/red paint colours you choose.

Let's talk about the drive of this car though. 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0L turbocharged TSI engine is quite a lot for a small car like this. Ours was equipped with Volkswagen's ultra-smooth 7-speed Direct-Shift-Gearbox or DSG, though a 6 speed manual is offered on this GLI. We managed to chirp the tires off the line and again near 6,000 RPM before shifting gears in manual sport mode, though our test area was a little wet from recent rain.

Overall performance is seriously good, if you're looking for something that offers ample fun and sportiness with the functionality of a four door sedan, the GLI might be the right option for you. In fact the short amount of time behind the wheel of this just wasn't enough for me, and we'll be revisiting this vehicle later on in 2019 from the press fleet once we get a chance. The 2019 Rabbit GTI will also be featured on TestDrive in about a month.

Premium fuel is recommended for this vehicle, and if you drive it normally fuel economy shouldn't take a serious hit over the regular Jetta. We definitely recommend finding a GLI 35 if you can, and we prefer the 7 speed DSG for it's insanely fast shifting and overall rev-matching capabilities. Our test vehicle was equipped with the Driver Assistance Package and has an MSRP of $34,840.00 (CAD).

Big thanks to Volkswagen St. Hyacinthe for letting us film their 2019 Volkswagen GLI 35th Anniversary Edition. Find out more about their dealership by visiting their website.

You can watch our full episode of TestDrive Spotlight on the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35 here:

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