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The Volkswagen Golf GTI is the hot hatch legend. That’s just a fact, considering it’s been around nearly half a century and it’s lived through seven generations. The latest model is the most modern and refined GTI yet, but it’s not exactly cheap. In fact, fully loaded examples like the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn shown in today’s video cost you nearly $37,000. That’s a lot of money for a hot hatch, and that price is even more puzzling when you look at the brand new Jetta GLI. It sports the same engine and transmission and has many of the same features, but costs $9,000 less. So is the Golf worth the extra money?
GTI vs. GLI: By the numbers
Underneath, the two cars share the same MQB platform and powertrain. You get a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four with 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. In both cars, that engine comes mated to a six-speed manual transmission (thankfully it’s still an option), though you can get a seven-speed DSG gearbox in either the Jetta or the Golf.
While these two cars are nearly apples-to-apples, there are a few differences. Naturally, as a sedan, the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI has a two-inch longer wheelbase than the Golf. It’s also slightly heavier — about 150 pounds more than its hot hatch sibling. This Jetta GLI is also the 35th Anniversary Edition, rather than the top-spec Autobahn trim. That means you get a slightly smaller infotainment screen, as well as cloth seats, rather than leather.
When it officially goes on sale, the Volkswagen Jetta GLI S will set you back $25,995. That’s significantly cheaper than the Golf GTI S’ $27,595 starting price, but the price difference is more profound as you climb through the trims:
|Trim||Jetta GLI Base Price||Golf GTI Base Price||Difference|
|35th Anniv. (Jetta)/|
Rabbit Edition (Golf)
|SE||Golf GTI only||$31,795||—|
The price difference between the two top-end cars is simply mind-boggling. Even if you compare the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn to its direct GTI equivalent, there’s still a $6,800 price gulf. The Jetta’s Autobahn trim also offers Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit, which isn’t available on the current Golf GTI at any level.
However, even if the price gap is a bit of a shocker, a Golf is a Golf. The GTI is a masterclass in hot hatchbacks, and it has a character all its own. To my mind, the Jetta GLI is a worthy sedan sibling, but which would you rather have? There is a new Golf coming, so that may also swing prices on the current model.
Let us know what you think in the comments below! Stay tuned to TFLcar.com for more Volkswagen news, views and real-world reviews.