Used 2008 Volkswagen GLI

2008 Volkswagen GLI
List price range

Pros

  • Powerful turbo engine, comfortable ride, tight handling, rich interior materials, plenty of standard safety features, solid build quality.

Cons

  • Exterior styling not exciting enough for this type of car, option packages can quickly drive up the price.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Offering the taut, interactive drive that seems to be the domain of German marques, the 2008 Volkswagen GLI deserves strong consideration from driving enthusiasts wanting a sport sedan in the $25,000 to $30,000 price range.

vehicle overview

The 2008 Volkswagen GLI bridges the gap between econosport compact sedans (typically of Japanese persuasion) and pricier luxury sport sedans (typically of German descent). Those drawn to classy European styling, a nicely tailored cabin, athletic road manners and spirited performance will find a lot to love in this Vee-Dub.

Based on the Jetta sedan (and indeed, called the Jetta GLI until this year), the GLI should satisfy just about anyone who craves the taut, energetic feel of a German-pedigreed sedan but needs a price that's not going to cause missed student loan payments. The GLI's turbocharged inline-4 provides plenty of punch, while a firm suspension and communicative steering bring joy to those who appreciate a strong connection to the road.

Apart from its athletic dynamics, the Volkswagen GLI also boasts impressive build quality and more passenger and luggage room than most of its rivals. The cabin's high-quality materials and tasteful design impart a luxury-brand ambience, and VW offers the latest features like a navigation system and a dedicated iPod interface.

With pricing (depending on options) in the $25,000 to $30K range, the 2008 Volkswagen GLI is a very good pick for a fun-to-drive small sport sedan. But you might want to take a look at a few other models before signing on the dotted line. We also like the Acura TSX for its refinement and stronger reputation for long-term reliability, though it lacks the Vee-Dub's power. Other highly rated choices include the turbocharged Volvo S40 T5, the rev-happy Honda Civic Si sedan and the all-wheel-drive Subaru WRX and Legacy GT models.

trim levels & features

The 2008 Volkswagen GLI is a compact sedan that's available with a choice of a six-speed manual or automanual transmission. Standard features include bi-xenon headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, metallic interior trim, aggressively bolstered front seats, air-conditioning, cruise control, full power accessories, heated side mirrors, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat and a 10-speaker audio system with a CD changer, satellite radio and an auxiliary input jack.

Options include an "Autobahn" package (leather seating, heated front seats with power lumbar supports, a sunroof and an upgraded audio system), an exterior Sport styling kit, 18-inch alloy wheels and a navigation system (which allows the option of iPod connectivity in lieu of the CD changer). Individual options include a sunroof, an iPod adapter and a variety of wheels and rear spoilers.

performance & mpg

The Volkswagen GLI is front-wheel drive and comes solely with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 that makes 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. One may choose either a six-speed manual or VW's slick six-speed DSG ("Direct Shift Gearbox") sequential-shift transmission. The latter allows either ultra-quick manual-style shifting or fully automatic operation. The GLI can sprint to 60 mph in about 8 seconds flat. EPA fuel economy estimates for 2008 stand at 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway for a DSG-equipped GLI.

safety

Antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags and full-length head curtain airbags are all standard. Side airbags for rear passengers are optional.

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests, the 2008 Volkswagen GLI received four out of five stars for protection of front-seat occupants in head-on collisions and five stars for front- and rear-occupant protection in side impacts. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the GLI earned the top rating of "Good" in both frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests.

driving

The GLI's well-sorted suspension strikes a near-perfect balance between a comfortable ride and sporty handling. Though not as edgy as the previous-generation Jetta GLI, the current VW GLI has a rock-solid feel with a surprisingly quiet ride. Factor in the precise, communicative steering, eager engine and brilliant DSG transmission, and the 2008 Volkswagen GLI makes an ideal, well-rounded choice for enthusiasts on a budget.

interior

A sense of premium quality is immediately evident upon entering the cabin. Top-grade materials and exacting fit and finish, along with clean European style, give the GLI an upscale flair. Performance-oriented touches include a thick-rimmed, flat-bottom steering wheel and metallic-trimmed pedals. Firm side bolsters on the front seats hold both driver and passenger snug around corners -- perhaps a bit too snug for those of wide frame. Otherwise, seating for four adults is comfortable all around, and the rear seat offers a folding armrest and a split/fold feature. Trunk capacity measures an impressive 16 cubic feet.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2008 Volkswagen GLI.

62k Miles & Still goin' Strong.
jdubbs19, 3/6/2011
I know the title of the review doesn't seem too impressive, but for all the VW nay-sayers it's saying something. This is my 2nd review on the car, the original being back in 12/2007. My overall stance on the car has not changed in the few years and 60,000 miles that have passed. My car still consumes very little to no oil within the 5k mile oil change intervals and has not had a mechanical break down. Some of the parts on the car have needed to be changed however (trunk gas struts, valve cover gasket & electronic door lock module). If you're looking at one second hand, check for oil leaks or slower performance/lower gas mileage (carbon buildup issue). Still 30ish MPG, still a sweet ride.
08 GLI (Trigger)
Tidge, 7/1/2009
I loved the car when I first bought it, since I worked for Vw at the time. It handles great and has great throttle response. The color of the gauges at night are super cool. I like the ease of controls from the steering wheel instead of having to fiddle with the main controls. One thing that has bothered me is 8 months ago from July 1st 2009, is that it started having problems. Tonight while coming from work the display said stop engine, oil pressure etc. For an 08 GLI w/ 30K thats awful. Make sure you check you oil people. I drive only 5K per oil change as told to and Somehow I'm on the minimum part of dipstick!!
First Test Drove
First Test Drove, 3/14/2008
I've mainly purchased BMWs and Audis, probably a good reason for that. My wife and I test drove the 08 GLI 4dr with DSG. Transmission was fairly jumpy in my mind, breaks were not as solid, and the handling was very loose. Of course I'm coming from a 06 325i and comparing it to this VW. In my mind it isn't as sporty as some people think it is or handles as well. A vehicle that compares well to BMW that is not an Audi or Mercedes, is the 08 Mini Cooper S AM. I was very impressed with this vehicle and probably will purchase one. And I know that VW makes Audi and etc. But transmissions are different, i don't think the DSG compares well enough to Audi's tiptronic nor BWM's SMG. Sorry.
Outstanding Sport Sedan
Rich , 12/13/2007
Having owned a myriad of sport sedans, many costing tens of thousands more than this vehicle, I am more than impressed with this car. Excellent performance, including acceleration, braking and handling and the best steering of any car I have ever driven make this VW truly exceptional. It could easily sell for $10K more than the sticker and it would still be worth it.
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Features & Specs

MPG
22 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed automated manual
Gas
200 hp @ 5100 rpm
MPG
20 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed manual
Gas
200 hp @ 5100 rpm
MPG
22 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed automated manual
Gas
200 hp @ 5100 rpm
MPG
20 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed manual
Gas
200 hp @ 5100 rpm
See all Used 2008 Volkswagen GLI features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Acceptable
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2008 Volkswagen GLI
Used 2008 Volkswagen GLI Overview

The Used 2008 Volkswagen GLI is offered in the following submodels: . Available styles include 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), PZEV 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), 4dr Sedan w/Prod. End 04/08 (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), and 4dr Sedan w/Prod. End 04/08 (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM).

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