2021 Kia K5 vs. VW Jetta GLI: One Of These Cars Is MUCH Better Than The Other…But Which One?

Both cars target fun and sporty driving, but which one is actually better?

We have a bit of an odd mashup here, but one worth considering if you’re looking for something that hits the sweet spot of fun and affordable. The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI and Kia K5 are technically in different segments, but crucially both cost between $31,000 and $32,000. In fact, the Kia is only $450 more expensive than the Jetta GLI Autobahn’s $31,300 asking price, including destination. But which one is actually better? Roman and Nathan argue the cases for each car before settling on a decision, so check out the video below for all the details.

By the numbers, here’s what you have if you’re shopping around for a sporty, yet inexpensive sedan. The Volkswagen Jetta GLI offers up 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque from the iconic EA888 engine that also powers the Golf GTI. Enthusiasts can rejoice with this particular Jetta, as not only is it in Tornado Red but it has a six-speed manual transmission. Not many cars can claim that feature these days, sadly.

Certainly not the 2021 Kia K5 GT-Line, which isn’t available with a three-pedal option at all. Not that many people looking in the mid-size sedan area — where this car replaces the old Optima — would want to row their own gears anyway. The GT-Line is more or less the mid-range option, though the car comes well-equipped for the money. You also get a unique grille, sportier looking wheels and nice interior touches that add some sporty flavor. The 1.6-liter turbocharged engine putting out 180 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque is reasonably punchy, if a bit restrained by the 8-speed automatic transmission. This car packs all-wheel drive, which does add more security in icy conditions like what we see in Colorado this time of year.

Kia has an ace up its sleeve in the performance department though, with the full-fledged Kia K5 GT. That model boasts a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine with 290 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque. Not only will that blow the Jetta GLI out of the water (especially taking its dual-clutch transmission into account), but it will also give some of its segment rivals like the Mazda6 a headache as well.

At any rate, let us know which car of these two you’d have below.