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2016 Volkswagen Jetta GLI vs 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI

All VW enthusiasts should be aware of the Volkswagen Golf GTI by now, as it has long held its position in the lineup as the favorite hot hatch. It’s a slick model that not only offers plenty of power, but looks good doing it. VW has recognized the popularity of this model by offering it in a variety of trim levels and options, which is one way that distinguishes it when comparing the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta GLI vs 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI. The Jetta GLI, unlike the Golf GTI, is just two trims levels under the Jetta umbrella.

Perhaps it’s because the Jetta GLI is newer than the GTI, or because it has fewer trims, but frequently there aren’t as many options for drivers seeking the sportier compact car, even within our impressive inventory. This being the case, it comes as no surprise that the Jetta GLI tends to receive less recognition. Still, it’s a smart option for those who enjoy the Golf GTI, but aren’t fans of the hot hatch body style. Both models have the 210 horsepower 2.0T engine, though the GTI returns more torque.

2016 Volkswagen Jetta GLI SE vs 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI SE, 4-Door
$26,920 MSRP $28,625
23/33 MPG 25/34
207 lb-ft Torque 258 lb-ft
15.7 cu. ft. Cargo Space 22.8 cu. ft.

How do you choose between GLI and the GTI?

If you’re more prone to purchase with your wallet in mind, you may have noticed the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta GLI has a starting price slightly higher than the 2016 Volkswagen GTI starts at. Our chart lists only SE trim levels because the Jetta GLI starts at this trim, but choosing the S trim for the GTI will save money, while also dropping many premium features. Savings are even more pronounced if you’re willing to order your car, as the GTI has two-door body styles that drop it further in price. When directly comparing four-door SE trims, however, the Jetta GLI is the less expensive option for virtually all the same features. Both models have a panoramic sunroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, sport suspension, VW App-Connect, a rearview camera system, Fender Premium Audio and keyless access with push-button start.

There are a few key areas in which the models do differ. One is obviously the body style, as the Golf GTI is a hatchback. This means it has considerably more cargo space than the Jetta, which opens up to 52.7 cubic feet since the seats fold flat and open up full use of the rear cargo space. It does have slightly less interior space, but it’s not a significant difference. As far as features go, the Golf GTI puts more emphasis on style and performance, delivering more torque, featuring various driving modes and upgrading the interior to have genuine leather and ambient lighting. The Jetta GLI puts more emphasis on driver assistance and comfort, with standard Park Distance Control and dual-zone automatic climate control.

Which model speaks to you will likely depend on how you feel when sitting in the driver’s seat. Stop by Trend Motors to test drive both models.