The all-new Jetta GLI is back for 2019

A big anniversary marks the next generation of this iconic Volkswagen.

Since its 1984 debut, the VW Jetta GLI has always combined irrepressible good looks and distinctive performance. Luckily for decades-long and newbie fans, that combination got a head-turning, sixth iteration update (and special 35th Anniversary Edition), which debuted at the Chicago Auto Show in February.

Enthusiasm for an all-new GLI is warranted: With a 228-horsepower (achieved with premium fuel), turbocharged engine, and aggressive looks to match, the GLI is a hard bet to beat for drivers who seek a daily ear-to-ear grin and fun behind-the-wheel experience. Let’s let the GLI (and photos) speak for itself.

The 2019 GLI combines a lowered sports suspension with lower side skirts, which is the lowermost portion of the vehicle underneath the doors. Subtle changes add up to a GLI that looks lower and wider than the Jetta. The rear lip spoiler, rear diffuser, and chrome dual exhaust tips amplify its sporty intentions.

A more aggressive front fascia, lower lip spoiler, blacked-out window trim, and a red accent line across the honeycomb front grille easily distinguish the 2019 Jetta GLI from its sibling.

Slim lighting profiles, made possible by the use of LEDs, gives the GLI a streamlined profile.

A standard 2.0 TSI® turbocharged engine produces 228-horsepower (achieved with premium fuel) and 258 lb-ft of torque, put to the wheels through a sophisticated XDS® Cross Differential System with VAQ limited slip differential that helps to maintain optimum torque balance. These can be paired with a 6-speed manual or available 7-speed automatic transmission.

Peek closely at the brakes, and you’ll see the distinctive red — here on the front calipers — that defines much of the GLI look.

An available 10.25-inch high-resolution Digital Cockpit offers a unique experience for the driver.

TOP: Top-of-the-line comfort sport seats are standard; the Autobahn trim features leather-clad ventilated front seats that cool when the weather gets warm. Standard red contrasting stitching on the seats mimics the red accents throughout the interior.

BOTTOM: Every GLI comes with convenience-minded keyless entry with push-button start as standard.1 A 10-color ambient lighting system responds to the driving mode selection, or it can be customized manually. A 400-watt, eight speaker BeatsAudio® stereo system can crank up the excitement in the Autobahn trim. Paddle shifters, viewable in this photo, offer rapid shifting for the 7-speed DSG.

The 35th Anniversary Edition features more exclusive badging on its flanks, as well as unique dark grey wheels, black mirrors, and a black roof. It also has standard DCC® adaptive chassis control, which allows the driver to adjust suspension and handling characteristics with the push of a button.

A standard blacked-out rear spoiler complements other accents, including the distinctive GLI 35th Anniversary badge. (Not pictured) Special flags are stitched into the seats, front floor mats are embroidered with GLI35, and even the doorsills, backlit in red, mark the 35th Anniversary Edition.

Check out more 2019 Jetta GLI photos and video.