Volkswagen Jetta GLI: The car South Africa needs but definitely won't get

2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI. Image:
2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI. Image:

• Jetta GLI powered by 2.0-litre turbo engine

• Jetta has been discontinued in SA

• Jetta unlikely to make a return our market

It's been the topic of many a debate, but Volkswagen did the industry an injustice to withdraw two of its most popular sedans from the South African market. For decades, the Jetta and Passat formed integral parts of our industry, and, according to recent response by readers, the cars are sorely missed.

In other parts of the world, however, like America, VW still offers the Jetta.

In China, the Jetta is a standalone brand.

There is still a demand for sedans, and VW tapped into it. But in South Africa, the emphasis has shifted and Volkswagen is focusing more on SUVs and crossovers - adhering to buying demands and trends.

But it still warrants a big question: If Toyota can make its Corolla sedan, why can't VW do the same for its Jetta?

How much are you willing to pay for the Jetta GLI? Email us.

Volkswagen Jetta GLI

2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn Black Package. (

Jetta GLI, what is it?

The GLI nomenclature should not be mistaken for the GTI badge.

Slapped onto the Jetta, it stands for Grand Luxury Injection, which is what this Jetta is.

With this car, Volkswagen aims to blend luxury and performance at a price that is attainable for most buyers. As such, in America, the car carries a price tag that starts at $26 245.

To achieve the best possible ride quality, Volkswagen fitted the car with a limited-slip front differential lock. This system will minimise understeer and, according to VW, transfer up to 100% of torque to one wheel at a time.

READ: Dear Volkswagen, please bring back the Jetta! Love, SA readers

Two models are on offer - the S and Autobahn - both sharing several features like LED headlights, VW's in-car hotspot, and the diff-lock as mentioned above.

The Autobahn adds to this and features, as standard, VW's digital cockpit, leather seats, adaptive chassis control, and the Black Package for further exterior enhancements.

A turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine sends 170kW and 350Nm to the front wheels, either via a six-speed manual gearbox or the automaker's seven-speed DSG. A Jetta GLI R is reportedly on the cards and is rumoured to feature all-wheel-drive.

In essence, it'll share mechanicals with the Golf R.

Volkswagen Jetta GLI

2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn Black Package. (

Would it work in SA?

In a perfect world, this car would have made perfect sense in South Africa, but the fact that the Polo Sedan is the sole sedan in VWSA's line-up should speak volumes.

Yes, the Arteon has been discontinued, too. In Volkswagen's local passenger car portfolio, SUVs and crossovers make up the vast majority of vehicles.

Sedans, sadly, have fallen by the wayside - no matter how good they are.

A factor contributing to this is the price, and it is something that VWSA is always keeping in mind.

Before the various taxes are brought into the equation, the Jetta S ($26 245) and Jetta Autobahn ($29 945) will retail for around R435 931 and R497 388.

The Jetta S, on that sum, would cost R154 000 less than the Golf GTI, but there is a significant factor that will be difficult to overcome: Are you comfortable paying R500 000 for a Jetta?

READ: Opinion - Volkswagen should never have discontinued the Passat and replaced it with the Arteon

No matter how good the marketing plans are, no matter if people can afford it, the Jetta name is associated with affordability.

While many of us would welcome the Jetta GLI's arrival, the case study for this vehicle does not make sense.

Ironic, because it would surely be a contender for Car of the Year.

Volkswagen Jetta GLI
2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn Black Package. (
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