2006 Jetta GLI New Car Test Drive
small town of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the second
oldest city in the United States, founded in 1607
by the Spanish. Translated literally, it means "Holy
Faith" and is often referred to as "The
Different City". Encircled by millions of acres
of forest, it rises 7,000 feet above sea level.
the starting point for many different outdoor recreational
activities, it offered the perfect location to showcase
the 2006 Volkswagen Jetta GLI.
the launch of the new 2006 Volkswagen Jetta 2.5L
earlier this year, followed shortly thereafter by
the TDI, (turbo diesel) it seemed reasonable to
assume the higher performing GLI variant would slot
in right behind. So it was with a sense of anticipation
that I looked forward to driving the newest sport
version of the Jetta, to see how it would stack
up with the current crop of competitors in the market.
two most likely competitive candidates deserving
your attention are the Acura TSX and Nissan Altima
SE-R. Excellent vehicles in their own right, they
represent what it takes to contend successfully
in the market. Beyond these two models however,
the choice is mostly uninspiring.
spent the better part of a day behind the wheel
of the 2006 Volkswagen Jetta GLI, I would strongly
suggest that before spending your hard earned dollars
elsewhere, you consider adding the new Jetta GLI
to your short list.
is something the Jetta GLI has in spades. An aggressive,
blacked out grille dominates the fascia of this
sport sedan. The racy paint scheme is carried through
the lower sill and into the rear bumper, as well
as the bottom half of the side mirrors.
oval styled headlights with round lower foglights
and red grille trim add to the appeal of the new
Jetta GLI. Blue tinted glass is unique to this model,
as is the body kit, light washers and dual exhaust.
new Jetta GLI comes equipped with a 2.0L turbocharged
engine with intercooler. Producing a vigorous 200
hp @ 5,500- 6,000 rpm and 207 lbs-ft of torque between
1,800- 4,700 rpm, this fine Euro-sedan throws down
the gauntlet and dares others to take up the challenge.
separates the new Jetta GLI from its competitors
is the stunning ease with which it delivers power
to the road.
in-line, 4-cylinder turbo, responds effortlessly
to every request for power, while the whisper quiet
cabin insulates passengers in quiet comfort. On
more than one occasion, I found myself driving 20-30
miles over the posted speed limit, without even
realizing how fast the car was going. On that note,
top speed for new Jetta GLI is limited to 130 mph.
is not to say the Jetta GLI disengages the driver
from the road. On the contrary, it provides the
opportunity to focus on the road ahead and not the
distractions caused by wind and road noise.
front wheel drive car, the Jetta GLI rides on standard
17" alloy wheels equipped with 225/45 R17 low
front suspension features a McPherson strut design
with lower wishbones, aluminum subframe and a tubular
anti-rollbar. The rear suspension is a 4-link arrangement
with separate spring/shock absorbers, subframe and
a tubular anti-rollbar as well.
further differentiates the Jetta GLI from the competition
is Volkswagen's use of electromechanical steering
with speed dependent steering assist. Whether you
are cruising down the highway, or heading full speed
into a sharp righthander, the Jetta GLI always feels
the Volkswagen Jetta GLI is effortless in both the
6-speed manual and automatic transmissions.
6-speed automatic features DSG, (Direct Shift Gearbox),
a unique design that employs a two-clutch setup
to change gears. The first clutch adjusts 1st, 3rd,
5th and Reverse, while the second changes 2nd, 4th
and 6th gears. Flawless in its execution, DSG actually
achieves better fuel economy in the city than the
manual equipped GLI.
a further nod to performance, the new GLI features
aluminum pedals and a Formula 1 inspired steering
wheel. Flat bottomed, the 4-spoke wheel offers excellent
ergonomics, along with easy-to-use radio controls.
Behind the steering wheel, flippers promote shifting
gears "manually" in a DSG equipped Jetta
gauges are easy to read and logical. I include in
this assessment the heating and cooling adjustments,
as well as the power window, mirror and sunroof
controls. Each control switch offers tangible feedback
and the intuitive placement so important when driving
at night. During the evening hours, all active switches
glow in a subtle, but helpful, red color.
is exceptional, with "Recaro" design front
seats and practical room for three adults in the
back. Adjustments for driver and front passenger
include backrest, fore and aft, lumbar and VW's
signature manual crank that raises and lowers the
seat for added comfort.
reason to like the 2006 GLI and Jetta for that matter
is the new front passenger cupholder design. Finally
a German car company provides dual cupholders capable
of handling two large coffees without having to
place them side by side in a precarious position.
Why it has taken this long is one of life's great
mysteries, but the problem has finally been solved
in the new Jetta.
2006 Volkswagen Jetta GLI looks to be a winner.
With bold styling, aggressive handling and a smooth,
yet forceful turbo engine, it has all the characteristics
one looks for in an affordable sport sedan. If Volkswagen
continues to make positive strides in the areas
of reliability and build quality, the new GLI should
take its rightful place as one of the best new cars
in the market.
Volkswagen Jetta GLI
Affordable Sport Sedan
2.0-L in-line 4-cylinder turbo
Manual- 6 speed, Auto- 6 speed with DSG
Electromechanical steering with
speed dependant power assist
Power assist 4-wheel
disc with ABS/EBD
2 (front) 2 (side), side curtain
and rear side