2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn – Re-Driven – Stealth in Sedan

2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn: road wolf wrapped in sedan sheep's clothing

ALL THE BAHN BURNING STEALTH YOU MIGHT EVER NEED:  How could Volkswagen possibly improve on an MQB revamped Mk. 7 Jetta GLI hot compact sedan newly introduced last year? Very simply it’s been accomplished by fitting DCC variable electronic damping, previously exclusive to last year’s 35th Anniversary Edition, to the top trim Autobahn trim. The new found ability to vary ride stiffness in addition to artificially adjusting piped in cabin exhaust sound, and the extravagance of a Digital Cockpit beckons Roadblazing.com editors for a Re-Drive of  “the People’s Teutonic Hot Compact Sedan [that] is [a] Autobahn Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.”

2020 VW Jetta GLI Autobahn Driving Hits:

  • 7-speed DSG automated gearbox cruises smooth, bangs off solid shifts on demand
2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn: Digital gauge cluster and sports display on the 8.0″ touch LCD infotainment screen
  • Torque spewing latest generation of massaged turbocharged VW EA 888, with little lag
  • Soundaktor sport engine sound enhancement at wide open throttle
  • 29 combined miles per gallon in a genuine hot sedan
  • XDS limited slip front differential
  • Makes the 228 horsepower on 87 regular octane gas
  • 435 miles fuel tank range
  • MQB platform permits tauter body control
  • The only way to have an independent rear suspension on a Mk. 7 Jetta
  • DCC variable damping ranges from autocross taut to forgiving comfort
  • sticky Hankook Ventus Y-speed rated all-season rubber
  • Cabin impressively immune to road & drivetrain noise

2020 VW Jetta GLI Autobahn Driving Misses:

  • Steering road feel
  • More linear steering wind in Sport setting
  • Less brake dive
  • Soundaktor low speed audio engine sound enhancement brittle and fake

What It Has Got:

2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn: Road wolf wearing sedan sheep’s clothing at Milwaukee’s North Point Lighthouse
  • Pricing: from $27,165 (incl. destination) for a 6-speed manual 2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 
    • $119 / horsepower
    • The tested über trim 2020 VW Jetta GLI Autobahn DCT, w 7-speed automated dual clutch transaxle, tops out at $31,665
  • Expressive wide hood valleys, eggcrate grille, trapezoid dual exhaust cutouts
  • Expanded body coloring and racy red grille stripe and GLI fender emblems
2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn: subtly racy red “GLI” fender badging
  • Accommodates 5 adults & 14 cubic feet of their trunk junk
  • Above par standard feature set
    • Power windows, 4 x auto up/ down, power locks, tilt & telescoping steering wheel, air conditioning, rear window defogger, heated side mirrors, auto dimming rear view mirrors, illuminated dual vanity sunvisors, overhead retracting sunglasses bin, 2nd Row reading lights
    • 6 speaker, 160W HD radio streaming audio, Android Auto, AppleCar Play and MirrorLink phone projection, Bluetooth, USB-C x 2
  • Android Auto, AppleCar Play and MirrorLink phone projection standard
  • Acceptably good safety features & ratings
    • IIHS Good across the board
  • Driver assist tech included on lower trims (SE)
    • Collision avoidance pre-braking, blind spot & rear cross traffic warning
  • 4 year / 50,000 miles bumper to bumper warranty includes 2 years maintenance

What It Has Not (or Not Preferred):

  • No native navigation
  • No leather seating
  • Seat cushions too firm
  • Seat cushions too short
  • Fixed rear seat headrests
  • No sliding front center armest
  • Apogee of cabin finish austerity
    • Exposed door frames
    • Chintzy appearing standard gauges
    • Lacks base VW Golf’s felt lined door pockets and harmonious panel fit
  • Infotainment settings and instrument panel illumination locked out when in motion
  • Lacks Jetta 1.5T ADAS lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, foward collision avoidance, rear cross traffic warning
  • 2 years / 22k miles shorter warranty from 2019 MY

NEW to Jetta GLI Autobahn for 2020 MY:

2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn: Dynamic Chassis Control variably firms up handling for track and smooths damping on street
  • Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) variable damping suspension formerly exclusive to 2019 35th Anniversary GLI

Standout Cool 2020 JETTA GLI Autobahn Feature(s):

  • Digital Cockpit configurable LCD instrument cluster w/ embeddable navigation map
  • 9-speaker, 400W Beats audio
  • Customizable variable night cabin accent illumination
2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn: variable cabin illumination begets pink
  • Climatronic 2-zone climate control
  • Heated & cooled front seats, power driver’s adjust w/ 3 position memory

Roadblazing.com Says: Addition of Dynamic Chassis Control is another reason to sing the praises of this Road Wolf Wrapped in Sedan Sheep’s Clothing.

2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn:


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WHAT: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn Mk.7 BD (VW Group A7 platform) compact family sedan. The new VW Jetta GLI is finally hatched from the Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) platform, four years after it’s Hot Hatch relative, the Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Standard Power: transverse 2.0 L turbocharged DOHC 16V DI gas I-4 = 228 hp/ 258 lb-ft @ 1700 rpm + 6-speed manual helical transaxle, 3 [throttle, shift] Drive Modes  = Eco, Normal, Sport (customizable)

Optional Drivetrain: 7-speed automated dual-clutch helical transaxle (DQ380)


Roadblazing.com recently assessed the new Jetta Mk. 7 as possessing the larger Passat‘s maturity and compacy Golf hatchback’s trapezoids found in wrap-around light housings, fuel filler doors. BOLDNESS = prominent hood and fender creases.

Jetta GLI sedans mimick their Golf GTI hatchback brethren with telltale insignia splashed on grille, trunk lid and fenders. Also guaranteed a spot on any GLI:  red horizontal grille bar, dark lattice grille and lower air dam, piano black in place of chrome accents, straked darkened front corner inlets, body colored side skirts, dual chrome exhaust tailpipes and a lower rear diffuser.

Jetta‘s acute raked backlight, now leading to a more prominent GLI near duck-tail integrated trunk-lid spoiler formed from side belt-line creasing border on fastback. It’s just one interconnected ring away from being an Audi S3 ringer.

WHY:   People’s Teutonic Hot Compact Sedan is Affordable Wolf in Dapper New Sheep’s Clothing.


An automotive enthusiast since an orange toy VW Beetle ended up in his playpen and following him everywhere, George Straton has been chief editor at ChicagoNow.com/Drive-He-Said automotive lifestyle blog since 2010. In 2017 George established Roadblazing.com, dedicated to accurate automotive reviews, news and road trip stories. George is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and the Phoenix Automotive Press Association. George also happens to be an attorney and Loyola University of Chicago Ramblers fan. Present ride: 2022 Mazda 3 Turbo AWD Hatchback.

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