2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Sedan

MSRP $27,440 - $31,545

Ranked #17 in Compact Sedan

FILTER BY YEAR

2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Sedan Price, Review, Ratings and Pictures

Updated on: September 24, 2021

Nathan Dyer's image
Nathan Dyer 

Senior Editor


Entry-level sports sedans have been a great option for people looking for everyday fun without breaking their bank. The Jetta GLI has been such an affordable offering from the house of Volkswagen, offering similar levels of performance and technologies as the full-fledged GTIs without costing as much. For 2021, the Volkswagen Jetta GLI will be carried over without any changes, seeing just a slight bump in the base prices.

See detailed review »

Pros

Peppy turbocharged engine

Confident handling

Fittingly equipped

Solid build quality

Cons

Low fuel economy

Mediocre cargo space

What's New?

Identical to its predecessor


Features

vehicle bio

base price

$30745

bodystyle

4dr Sedan

passenger capacity

5

engine type

horsepower

228 hp @ 5000 rpm

torque

258 lb-ft. @ 1700 rpm

transmission

6 speed Maunal

chassis

brake rotors (f/r)

13.4/11.8 in.

capacity

passenger volume

94.7 cu ft.

cargo volume

14.1 cu ft.

performance

zero to 60 mph

7.7 sec.

fuel economy

city/combined/highway

24/28/33 mpg

highway range

435.6 mi.

warranty

roadside assistance

No


Pictures & Videos


Trims

S$27,440 onwards

Autobahn$30,745 onwards

Colors and Styles

2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Sedan in Deep Black Pearl color
Deep Black Pearl

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Expert Review, Pricing Analysis and Buying Guide


The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI will be offered in two standard trims, both sharing a 2.0L turbocharged engine and a standard 6-speed manual transmission. A 7speed DSG is also on offer at an $800 premium and all variants will be strictly front-wheel-driven. The prices for the base manual would start from around $26,345 and at this pricing would be competing against the likes of the Kia Forte GT, the Toyota Corolla Apex Edition, and the Honda Civic Si.

2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Sedan Features

The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI will be available in two trims, namely the base “S” trim and the fully-loaded “Autobahn” variant. Contrary to the naming scheme, there are no obvious differences in performance as the two trims offer the same 2.0L turbocharged power train. A 6- speed manual and a 7-speed DSG are on offer when it comes to the transmission with the latter commanding an $800 premium over the manual. A limited-slip front axle differential is also part of the standard package.

The entry-level trim comes with a decent list of equipment for the price and there is no obvious performance difference between the two as well. Features like a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system, leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels, and full LED exterior lighting do come from the factory. However, the top trim does get a noticeable bump in features over the base trim including adaptive dampers, power seats, a fully digital cockpit, power panoramic sunroof to name a few.

Trim

S

Autobahn

MSRP(FWD)

$26,345

$30,745

Key features

A 6.5-inch color infotainment screen

An 8-inch color infotainment screen

 

Premium Multifunction display

VW digital cockpit

 

6-way manual driver’s seat / heated front seats

6-way power driver’s seat

 

Dual-zone automatic climate control

Leather seating surfaces with front ventilated seats

 

Leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel

Beats Premium Audio system

 

Keyless access with push-button start

Panoramic sunroof

 

Customizable 10-color interior ambient lighting

3-front USB ports

 

VAQ limited-slip front differential lock

Adaptive cruise control

 

LED projector lights with DRLs / LED brake lights

DCC adaptive chassis control

 

Power-operated, heated outside mirrors

Outside mirror with memory function

 

18-inch twin 5-spoke alloy wheels

 

Which trim should you buy?

The base trim of the2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI does pack in a lot of features for the price but the Autobahn trim is undoubtedly the better value proposition here. For around $4,400 you are pretty much getting equipped with every creature comfort and cabin tech available in the market including a full-fledged driver assistance package. So, even though the ‘S’ trim comes sensible, we would highly prefer stepping up for the Autobahn trim.

2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Sedan Engine and Performance

The2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI comes in a single-engine option and that being a gen 3 EA888 2.0L turbocharged unit. This engine is rated for around 228hp and 258 lb-ft of torque in this iteration of the car. Typical to small forced induction engines, there is a huge surge of torque once to get it to boost, enabling the car to post a rather quick 6.2-second run to 60mph while quarter mile comes in just 14.7 seconds, which is decent for its class.

There are no perceivable performance differences between the manual and the automatic, even though the latter is a dual-clutch unit. The onboard computers don’t allow the 7-speed SDG to launch as hard as we could in the manual, so as to protect the clutch pack from premature wear. Both ways, there is no shortage of performance but we have to say that the manual does add a bit more involvement to the overall experience.

Models

Volkswagen Jetta GLI

Kia Forte GT

Toyota Corolla APEX

Honda Civic Si

MSRP

$26,345

$23,390

$26,585

$26,195

Engine

2.0L inline-4 Turbo

1.6L inline-4 Turbo

2.0L inline-4

1.5 L inline-4

Turbo

Drivetrain

FWD

FWD

FWD

FWD

Transmission

6-speed manual / 7-speed DSG

6-speed manual

6-speed manual / CVT

6-speed manual

Power (hp @ RPM

228 hp @ 5000 rpm

201 hp @ 6000 rpm

169 hp @ 6600 rpm

205 hp @ 5700 rpm

Torque (lb-ft @ RPM)

258 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm

195 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm

151 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm

192 lb-ft @ 2100 rpm

0-60 MPH (seconds)

6.2

6.8

8.8

6.8

Quarter-Mile (seconds)

14.7

15

16.7

15.1

Top-Speed (MPH)

155

150

115

130

The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI, being the one with the biggest forced induction engine here, gets a considerable advantage when it comes to power and also gets a massive jump in torque as well. This enables it to be the quickest of the bunch despite not having any considerable advantage when it comes to weight. The Forte GT and the Civic Si post identical times while considering their similar power to weight ratio. The Corolla APEX meanwhile, sporting the only naturally aspirated engine in this comparison, takes its own sweet time, managing to post a best 0-60 time of 8.8 seconds.

How well does the 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI handle?

 The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI comes out as a great handling package for a 4-door economy runner chassis, especially when you have opted for the trim with the adaptive dampers on. The car ride is almost flat and feels super stable no matter what kind of speed you start pushing it. The steering is perfectly weighted and feels surprisingly communicative given its regular counterpart is not that big of a sporting avatar. This could be attributed to the fact like the electronic steering rack calibration has been taken in from the hotter GTIs and the tighter set of dampers this car houses.

 Being a front-engine car, there is no escaping from imminent understeer. The VAG locking front axle differential does help in putting down the power better and getting the line back. Although it requires a bit of fiddling with the throttle and steering. That said, this car is pure fun and we could go on saying that the 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI could even match the segment benchmark, which is the Civic Si, in this regard. The Jetta GLI is definitely the GTI of sedans and it sure does have the capacity to put a slime on your face every day.

2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Braking Performance

 The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI does boast some big braking hardware for its class and it should as it did weigh quite a bit more than its competition in our test. Speaking of hardware, the front axles get a pair of 13.4-inch ventilated rotors while the rear end gets a couple of 11.8-inch solid ones. This hardware combined is capable enough to stop the 3,228 pounds Jetta GLI from 60mph in just 109 feet, a respectable figure for its class. The breaks have a good initial bite and there is a lot of feel to the pedal. Volkswagen also brings in features like brake assist and advanced collision warning systems, making the overall package quite effective in this department.

Models

Volkswagen Jetta GLI

Kia Forte GT

Toyota Corolla APEX

Honda Civic Si

Brake Rotors: Front (inches)

13.4

12

10.8

12.3

Brake Rotors: Rear (inches)

11.8

10.3

10.2

11.1

Curb Weight (lbs)

3228

2989

3055

2906

60-0 (feet)

109

115

115

106

The Civic Si, being the lightest one of the group and sporting one of the biggest hardware, manages to stop the best at 109 feet. The Jetta GLI, with its class-biggest hardware, follows close by with a 109 feet stop, despite weighing the highest here. The Forte GT and the Camry APEX do stop from 60 mph at an identical distance of 115 feet, but we have to give it to Toyota for accomplishing this with smaller discs and higher curb weight than the Kia.

2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Sedan Fuel Economy

Even though performance is the main context with the 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI, given the category it lies in, the car is destined to be used as a family hauler or daily driver by most. In this aspect, we must say that the 2021 Jetta GLT did not disappoint us and the fuel economy figures are rather decent. EPA rates the GLI a good 28mpg combined and nearly 33 mpg on the highways when driven sanely. With a 13.2-gallon gas tank and these kinds of figures, you could expect the car to return real-world gas mileage of around 370 miles in combined driving style. If highways are your primary route of choice, then expect this figure to go up to almost 435 miles which is adequate for any kind of use.

Models

Volkswagen Jetta GLI

Kia Forte GT

Toyota Corolla APEX

Honda Civic Si

MPG (City)

24

25

29

26

MPG (Highway)

33

32

36

36

MPG (Combined)

28

28

32

30

Tank Capacity (Gallons)

13.2

14

13.2

12.4

Range (City/Highway/Combined, in Miles)

316.8/435.6/369.6

350/448/392

382.8/475.2/422.4

322.4/446.4/372

The power disadvantage does give the Corolla APEX an upper hand when it comes to fuel economy, and it shows as it returns the best scores across the board. The Civic comes close to the Corolla in highway figures but loses out in the city and combined figures. It is quite disappointing that the Kia only manages figures that are in line with the Jetta GLI’s despite having a considerably smaller engine. That said, the Forte GT gets background with the biggest-in-class 14-gallon gas tank enabling it to squeeze out one of the best ranges in this comparison.

2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Sedan Interior

Volkswagen’s cabins have always been functional and the 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI’s interiors are no different. Everything is kept simple and the most fiddled items have physical knobs or controls, such a relief. The fit and fit are of the top order, typical to VW and there seems to be the use of a lot of soft-touch materials, especially in the upper door panels and the upper cash board. The bog infotainment screen does add that essential modern touch while the gloss black cabin inserts give an overall premium appeal. The steering is the sportiest bit here and gets directly taken over from the GTI models. A 10.4-inch digital cockpit is also on offer here when going for the Autobahn trims.

 The front seats feel supportive and with 56-inches of shoulder room to spare, you won’t be complaining about space. These front seats come with manual adjustments as standard but you could get the higher trim for an 8-way power unit. Their rear seats are also spacious and offer really good legroom for the passengers. A dual-zone climate control system does come standard but there are no rear climate vents on offer here. The trunk is also decently large and measures in at about 14.1 cu-ft, enough for a weekend trip worth of luggage.

Models

Volkswagen Jetta GLI

Kia Forte GT

Toyota Corolla APEX

Honda Civic Si

Seating Capacity

5

5

5

5

Front Row (Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches)

38.5/55.9/41.1

38.8/56.1/42.2

38/54/42

37.5/56.9/42.3

Second Row (Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches)

37.2/54/37.4

37.5/55.3/35.7

37.1/51.7/34.8

36.8/55/37.4

Trunk Capacity (cubic feet)

14.1

15.3

13.1

14.7

The Civic Si would be the car offering the best seating space both on the first and second rows, even though its slating roof does eat away into the cabin space. The Forte GT offers the second-best front row experience and it also has the biggest 15.3 cu-ft cargo hold. The Jetta has the best second-row legroom in this comparison but lacks the shoulder room when compared. The Corolla APEX has the least space on offer inside and also offers only around 13.1 cu-ft of cargo capacity, which is the lowest in its class. Some standout features of the 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI are;

  • 10.4-inch Fully digital driver’s cockpit ( Autobahn)
  • Standard 6.5-inch infotainment system (8-inch available)
  • Heated front seats (8-way powered available)
  • Leather upholstery
  • Leather-wrapped multifunction sports steering wheel
  • Dual-zone climate control system

What’s there to keep you entertained?

The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI houses either a 6.5-inch or an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system based on what trim you chose to go for. Both systems are user-friendly and come standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. Both systems are 4G Wi-Fi Hotspot capable but the one on the higher trim does offer SiriusXM satellite radios and a premium Beats audio system in addition. Some standout infotainment features on the 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI;

  • 6.5-inch / 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Bluetooth hands-free
  • SiriusXM trial subscription
  • Steering mounted audio controls
  • Beats Premium Audio system*

2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Sedan Exterior

The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI has that typically understated look and is not as big an eye-grabber as its competition. Its beauty lies in its uncluttered line and this design would stand the test of time much better. If it wasn’t for the badges and red streak across the grille, the Jetta GLI is mostly indistinguishable from its regular counterparts. That said, VW has made it look distinctively sporty with minimal upgrades and if you ask us, that is what you need in a car that you would end up using as you daily.

As with the insides, there is no shortage of equipment on the outside as well. Features like 18-inch double-spoke wheels, dual-chrome exhausts, boot-mounted spoiler, Full LED exterior lighting with auto switch on, rain-sensing wipers, and power-operated heated mirrors all come in with the entry-level trim. A couple of exterior features like a power sunroof and exterior mirror memory function are the only amenities specific to the higher trim

Models

Volkswagen Jetta GLI

Kia Forte GT

Toyota Corolla APEX

Honda Civic Si

Curb Weight (lb)

3228

2989

3055

2906

Length (inches)

185.2

182.7

182.5

182.8

Width (inches)

70.8

70.9

70.1

70.8

Height (inches)

57.9

56.5

55.9

55.5

Ground Clearance (inches)

5

5.3

4.7

NA

Wheelbase (inches)

105.6

106.3

106.3

106.3

Even though the 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI has the shortest wheelbase here, it is the longest and the heftiest car of the lot. The rest of the pack is almost identical in exterior dimensions with a Forte GT getting a slightly higher roofline. Talking about roofline, the Honda Civic Si with its aggressive coupe-like roof curvature does limit passenger headroom on both rows. The smaller engines also have helped the Kia and the Honda keep weights below the 3,000-pound mark. The Jetta GLI counters the weight disadvantage with its class-leading power output but the Camry APEX does take a real hit here, given its doddering engine character. Some standout features of the 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI are;

  • LED projector headlamps with DRLs / LED tail lamps
  • Automatic headlamps
  • Rain sensing wipers
  • 18-inch twin-spoke alloy wheels
  • Power-operated, heated exterior mirrors
  • Power Sunroof*

2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Sedan Safety

The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI does score high when it comes to safety. It has earned a 5-star crash test rating from the NHTSA while the IIHS rated it an overall “good” rating except for the headlamp performance where it could only manage “marginal”. The car also hosts a full suite of passive and a few active systems which include a Blind spot monitor, rear traffic alert, forward collision warning, and forward emergency braking assist. The Autobahn trim adds features like lane change assist and high beam assist to the already impressive standard package. Some standout safety features of the 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI are;

  • Blindspot and rear cross-traffic alert
  • Forward collision warning
  • Forward emergency brake assist
  • Lane change assist*
  • High beam assist
  • Backup camera

2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Sedan Competition

Volkswagen Jetta GLI vs Kia Forte GT

The2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI does start at a higher price but gets the more powerful full engine. It also has better braking and the overall build also feels slightly more robust. That said, the 2021 Kia Forte GT comes fully equipped for a price lesser than the base trim of the Jetta GLI. It also has a bigger cabin, bigger cargo hold, and even a bigger fuel tank making it more economical and practical. So it is up to you to decide on which car to go for and if its value that you’re after, the Forte GT will be your best bet. But if you need slightly better handling and an overall better-built car, the expensive Jetta GLI is the one for you.

Volkswagen Jetta GLI vs Toyota Corolla APEX.

Contrary to what the name may suggest, the Corolla is not at the apex when it comes to performance nor is the more practical car, given its limited cabin and cargo volumes. The only place where it stands up is in the fuel economy department and that too is at the compromise of performance. One could say the Toyota Corolla is much more reliable as well. Since the primary reason to go for such a spiced-up version is performance, we have to give it to the 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI. Except for the slightly low economy figure, the Jetta just plainly is the better car here.

Volkswagen Jetta GLI vs Honda Civic Si.

The Honda Civic Si is the benchmark when it comes to this end of the performance sedan spectrum. Volkswagen, with the 2021 Jetta GLI has come within striking distance of the Honda and has even surpassed it when it comes to straight-line performance. That said, smaller things like the steering feel, shifter slickness, light pedal action, and braking performance still place the Honda manages to come out better. Not only that, but the Civic Si is also slightly more practical when it comes to space and it also houses a slightly more frugal engine as well. Given all this, we have to slant towards the Japanese here, ever so slightly though.

2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Sedan Final Verdict

The new Volkswagen Jetta GLI undeniably is one of the most desirable sporty sedans available in the affordable spectrum of things. It is the quicker car in its segment and comes strikingly close to what we refer to as the benchmark when it comes to dynamics. It also offers a perfect balance of practicality and usability while packing in most of the creature's comfort and safety features for its asking price. It also offers the best-built quality and is unquestionably the most solid feeling vehicle in its class. The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is definitely one car to look for in this segment and its sure does have the kit to entertain most.