So I recently got engaged and decided to sell my 2006 Infiniti G35 Sedan 6-speed manual, which I loved. I looked at the following: Kia Optima, Chevy Cruze, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Honda Civic, BMW 3-series, Jetta, and Acura TSX. My criteria: had to be 4 door sedan, and had to be manual transmision. I get so tired of salesmen trying to sell me on tiptronic fake manual transmissions! I test drove all of those cars, and I was very close to getting a kia, however, the only way to get a 6speed was getting the base model with plastic hubcaps. I went to VW with my fiance, we drove the 5 speed SE Jetta, and was bored. Then... I saw the GLI and was instantly in love.
In a perfect world, everyone could afford a 65k BMW M3. If you're like me, you want a fun to drive car which gets good mileage & doubles as a family car and doesn't cost a ton, the GLI autobahn hits on all counts. This car tells you what to expect when you turn the ignition and it lets out a low growl, and it will make the chore of driving around town an absolute pleasure. Around town it hugs turns and twisties and gets up and goes as fast as any other sedan in its class. Was easy to install car seats making the wife happy. It may be a Jetta but has a distinctive enough look that it turns heads. I'm a bit concerned about reliability long term, but bought a warranty for peace of mind.
I have owned several performance sedans through the years including a current generation Nissan Maxima SV with sport package, 07 'Civic SI, 05' Subaru Legacy GT Limited, Mazdaspeed 6. I was able to grab this 12' GLI Autobahn for $23500 which is a steal honestly for what you get. Coming from my SI, the GLI has way more torque and much better gas mileage while having equal handling, but with better interior materials. I average 29mpg in mixed driving and on straight freeway trips usually see 34-35mpg and as high as 37mpg. Had the APR stage 1 ECU update done and the car is a rocket now without even a dent in gas mileage. Some interior plastics could be better but overall a great car!
First off I have only had my new GLI for a month. Interior quality is much better than the standard Jetta models. The 6 speed m/t shifts smooth with long throws. The gearing is quite tall for a "performance" minded vehicle. Thankfully the 2.0TSI produces a flat torque curve to overcome the long gears. Fuel economy has been quite good so far with a combined average of 28.2 mpg. The ride handling balance is quite good with a nice firm ride and accurate steering. I'm 6'6" tall and have plenty of front leg space. Seats are firm and made for slender guys like myself. All in all good car for what it is!
I really love my GLI - it looks great, I get asked questions about it all the time and it gets second glances in parking lots and driving by. The 2.0 turbo engine is an absolute peach, don't be fooled by its relatively low power numbers, it pulls effortlessly. There are also a great variety of modifications available if thats your kind of thing. The DSG transmission takes some getting used to but it shifts extremely fast and smooth. The manual would be nice but it feels kind of rubbery. Ride comfort is OK. The car is a blast on the back roads with scalpel-precise steering. Great seats, decent interface, and a ton of trunk space make it practical as well. Overall very happy.