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2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Test Drives, Volkswagen

2022 volkswagen jetta gli autobahn

The Volkswagen Jetta has long been a well-positioned contender in the compact sedan segment even though it can hold its own within the midsized category. The Jetta’s German roots shine bright in the top-tier GLI trim with a more powerful powertrain and the availability of a 6-speed manual transmission to appease many enthusiasts.

The joy of the Jetta GLI is one that combines a sporty appeal wrapped up on a mainstream sedan that brings practicality to the forefront all at a relatively affordable price. Powering the latest Jetta GLI Autobahn is a nicely tuned version of the brand’s 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine outputting 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. That power can be sent through a standard 6-speed manual transmission as found in my test vehicle or an optional 7-speed automated manual dual-clutch DSG (Direct-Shift Gearbox) to power the front wheels.

2022 volkswagen jetta gli autobahn side

Having a 6-speed manual transmission still available makes the Jetta GLI an attractive offering for enthusiasts who are passionate about rowing their own gears. With that, the 6-speed manual box in the Jetta GLI Autobahn is a decent gearbox that’s easy to conduct smooth shifts but doesn’t promote the ease of shifting fast due to the longer throws. The clutch engagement is easy to master with a good mid-way bite point and adds a lively attitude to the overall sporty driving appeal of the Jetta GLI. You even get a giggle or two over the Jetta GLI breaking the front wheels loose as you throttle through first gear where the torque-vectoring differential helps keep the front end pointed in the right direction until the tires start to lose grip and you get a lot of understeer. In all, the Jetta GLI can be fun and feels like it has much more power than stated on paper.

See Also: 2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn Review & Test Drive

2022 volkswagen jetta gli autobahn rear

The adaptive dampers with three modes (comfort, normal, sport) do well for a nicely balanced ride quality and a firm sportiness in the Sport drive mode. After mastering the shifts with the somewhat long-throw 6-speed manual transmission, you can hit 60 mph from a stop in about 6.6 seconds.

2022 volkswagen jetta gli autobahn dashboard

There’s a nice refinement to the Jetta GLI Autobahn with the exception of the liberal use of interior plastics. Otherwise, the interior looks inviting and almost premium if you avoid touching some of the hard plastic surfaces. The upper dash area is mostly soft-touch and there are just enough sporty red accents combined with the supportive perforated leather heated and ventilated front seats with the driver’s seat being the only one with power adjustments and seat memory.

2022 volkswagen jetta gli autobahn 8-inch touchscreen

The cabin is nicely laid out with easy to reach and simplistic controls for the Beats audio system and automatic dual-zone climate control. The latest MIB3 infotainment system fed through an 8-inch touchscreen is easy to figure out and very straightforward with simple menus. There’s also the addition of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The backup camera could use some work as the image looks grainy and low res.

2022 volkswagen jetta gli autobahn front seats

Interior space is decent, but the rear seats are more at the mercy of front seat adjustment where you can agree on positioning to fit two adults in the back with a smaller child in the center without issue. The configurable 10-inch Digital Cockpit Pro display is very Audi-like and a welcomed premium feature for the Jetta GLI Autobahn.

2022 volkswagen jetta gli autobahn rear seats

Overall, the subtle changes of the 2022 Jetta GLI Autobahn over what I experienced a couple of years ago are hardly noticeable, such as the use of new touch capacitive buttons with haptic feedback on the steering wheel, updated infotainment system, and the addition of Adaptive cruise control and other active safety features (blind-spot monitoring, lane keep assist, lane departure warning/mitigation, forward collision warning/emergency braking, etc.) as standard equipment for the new Jetta GLI Autobahn.

2022 volkswagen jetta gli autobahn trunk

With the competition coming on strong from crossover utility vehicles in all shapes and sizes, vehicles like the Jetta GLI Autobahn have their work cut out to remain relevant. However, with the price point of the loaded-up Jetta GLI Autobahn with a rare manual transmission landing at $33,180, there’s a lot to like here enthusiasts and others who want something a little different and almost unique in today’s automotive landscape.


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