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Avg. Price Paid:$12,396 - $12,602
Original MSRP: $24,770 - $25,870
MPG: 21 City / 31 Hwy
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2009 Volkswagen GLI Review

This review was written when the 2009 Volkswagen GLI was new.

The 2009 Volkswagen GLI provides for a sprightly, well-balanced ride that leaves most test drivers satisfied.

 

Model Overview

The Volkswagen GLI is a performance-tuned variant of the popular Jetta. Equipped with a turbocharged I4 engine and sport-tuned to handle the twists and turns of the rally racing circuit, this speedster earns the respect of both auto critics and enthusiasts.

For '09 the GLI gains heated seats and windshield-washer nozzles, as well as an optional navigation system. Otherwise, it's a carry-over from the 2008 model year.

The GLI is available in two trims, GLI and GLI Autobahn -- both of which are mechanically the same. Only one body style is offered, a four-door sedan.

  • "As the hottest Jetta on the street, the 2008 Volkswagen GLI offers four-door utility with turbocharged performance as the pure expression of a sports sedan." -- NewCars.com
  • "Bridging the gap between sporty compact sedans and luxury models, the GLI (it was called the Jetta GLI until last year) offers the taut, energetic feel of a German-engineered sedan, but at a more attainable price. The GLI's 200-horsepower turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine provides plenty of punch, while a firm suspension and communicative steering bring joy to those who appreciate a strong connection to the road." -- Edmunds

The Bottom Line

The 2009 GLI is both quick and nimble, but for a starting price of $24,770 there are better buys -- namely the Mazdaspeed3 and Impreza WRX. Both provide more horsepower and torque, and accelerate from 0 to 60 mph much faster than the GLI. And while the Mazdaspeed3 also features a front-wheel drive-train, the WRX come standard with all-wheel drive -- which is a huge advantage in racing scenarios.

Performance Dynamics

Test drivers report that the '09 GLI features plenty of pep, albeit some turbo lag, and smooth-operating transmission choices. While most agree that the GLI's handling performance is well balanced, opinions differ on the quality of its ride.

The Volkswagen GLI features a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 engine that produces 200-horsepower at 5,100 - 6,000 rpm and 207 pound-feet of torque at 1,800 - 5,000 rpm. While a six-speed manual transmission is standard, a six-speed automatic DSG with Tiptronic and sport mode is available. Volkswagen reports that the GLI has a top speed of 127 mph and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds with the manual transmission and 6.9 seconds with the automatic.

According to the EPA, the GLI has a city/highway fuel economy of 21/31 mpg with a manual transmission and 22/29 mpg with an automatic.

Standard performance components include an electro-mechanical variable assist power rack-and-pinion steering, a fully independent sport-tuned suspension system, and an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA), and Traction Control. The GLI operates on a front-wheel drive-train.  

  • "The GLI is the most powerful Jetta available and comes with the GTI's in-line, 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine turbocharged to 200 horsepower. Like its more compact counterpart, the GLI has a relatively wide torque band and pushes out its full 207 pound-feet of torque between 1,800 and 5,000 rpm -- though as with the hatchback, the full horsepower only comes into play between 5,100 and 6,000 rpm. This engine is also shared with the base Audi A3 and TT." -- Left Lane News
  • "The standard 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine produces 200 horsepower and 207 lb.-ft. of torque for excellent acceleration and off-the-line power. It's mated to a standard 6-speed manual transmission that offers smooth shifting or an amazing 6-speed automatic DSG transmission with Tiptronic and Sport mode for rapid gear changes with steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters." -- NewCars.com
  • "A manual-transmission GLI did 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds in our test. Turbo lag is noticeable, particularly from a stop.  ... GLI with its 17-inch tires feels jiggly, thumpy, and borderline harsh on all but smooth roads.  ... GLI offsets its lumpy ride with terrific handling. Braking is strong and sure." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The GLI's well-sorted suspension strikes a near-perfect balance between a comfortable ride and sporty handling. And the ride is surprisingly quiet. Between the precise handling, strong turbo engine and smooth-shifting DSG transmission, the 2009 Volkswagen GLI is a well-rounded choice for enthusiasts on a budget." -- Edmunds
Review Last Updated: 5/13/09

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