2012 Volkswagen Beetle: The Sedan Version
September 5, 2012
I was driving the 2012 VW GLI this weekend and although it was previously just the sedan version of the GTI, that isn't the case any longer. Just as the Jetta moved away from the Golf, so too the GLI. The dash may be padded, but the rest of the interior has the Jetta's cheaper, harder plastics (especially on the doors) along with missing extras like the adjustable front armrest and rear air vents.
So what does this have to do with der Beetle besides the common badge? Well, I thought the GLI felt more like our Beetle Turbo to drive than the GTI. This is especially true of the steering, as both have a big old numb spot on center and an equally Novocaine-tastic turn-in response. In my recollection, the GTI just feels sharper. The infuriating throttle response when DSG is in Drive is the same too, along with the odd off-throttle slowing and hyper downshifts in Sport. Using the paddles is a must. (To be fair, I haven't sampled the GTI with DSG so I can only imagine that aspect is the same).
When I checked our testing numbers of the three cars, guess what? Equipped with the same tires, the GTI circled the skidpad with more grip (.90 vs .84) and went through the slalom 1 mph quicker. Our Beetle Turbo (with different tires) had the same skidpad number and was 2 mph slower. Acceleration is essentially the same across the board even with the GTI in question featuring the manual.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor