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Volkswagen Jetta GLI: The most-fun sport sedan on the road

Volkswagen Jetta GLI Photo courtesy Volkswagen

The Beatles sang about the long and winding road. Based on our experience during a recent 1,800-mile road trip, there’s no car better suited to traveling that meandering path than the Volkswagen Jetta GLI.

For starters, the sedan version of VW’s performance-oriented GTI compact hatchback offers all the best qualities of the standard Jetta, including good fuel economy, a roomy interior, and a trunk large enough to take it all with you.

Our test car’s gutsy 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine (228 hp) and precise 6-speed manual gearbox (a 7-speed automatic transmission is an option) makes piloting the GLI a giddy pleasure. Acceleration is generous enough to put a smile on your face after even a short spin, much less an all-day trek.

The high-end Autobahn model features an adaptive suspension that electronically adjusts to smooth out freeway bumps while still delivering excellent handling on curvy stretches of road. If the GLI has a shortcoming, it’s low-key styling: If you want a car that draws a crowd, this ain’t it. That minor ding aside, the Jetta GLI makes a superb road trip companion.

Vehicle layout: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4 (228 hp), 6-speed manual, FWD

MSRP, base model/as tested: $30,745/$32,335

MPG, city/highway/combined: 24/33/28 (manual)

Safety ratings: NHTSA: 5 stars overall; IIHS: good (all crash-related ratings)

Basic warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles

Final assembly: Puebla, Mexico

Spare tire: Temporary spare

Takeaway: The least-known, most-fun sport sedan on the road

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