Volkswagen Jetta R?
The 2019 Chicago Auto Show proved to be a good place to catch up on some Volkswagen product plans and news.
VW used the show to finally show the 2019 Jetta GLI which ups the power considerably from the conventional Jetta. We are talking 80 more horsepower by replacing the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with the 2.0-liter turbo-four from the Golf GTI. The GLI offers 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque with a choice of a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and a limited-slip differential.
For stopping power there are Golf R front brakes in a car described as the most advanced GLI to date. Styling is conservative with touches like a red accent stripe across the grille, body-colored rear spoiler and of course the GLI badging. A strong crisp character line runs through the door handles and it rides on 18-inch wheels.
Built in the Puebla, Mexico, plant, the GLI goes on sale this spring in base and Autobahn trims. Pricing has not been announced.
There will also be a 35th Anniversary Edition—a short run of 2,400 units for the 2019 model year, with a black roof, unique wheels and a black rear spoiler. Appealing to young, affluent male buyers, the special edition should sell out quickly, said Derrick Hatami, vice president of sales and marketing for Volkswagen of America.
Jetta dates back to its 1978 start in the European market and the GLI dates back to 1984 when it was an appearance package, manual transmission, and upgraded wheels and brakes. VW has sold 18 million Jettas to date.
Since VW introduced the current Jetta in May 2018, there have been calls for the GLI. It traditionally only represents about five percent of Jetta sales, said Hatami, but it is key to VW DNA.
Will there be a Jetta R? "Never say never," said Hatami, stressing the pains VW has taken to make the Jetta a key member of the performance club that includes the Golf GTI and Golf R. There could be some overlap of GTI and GLI but he sees potential for more volume from the larger Jetta versus the smaller hatchback.
VW remains committed to the sedan market, a segment Hatami said is still 4 million units strong in the U.S.
How about that electric Microbus? It is still a few years out, said Hatami. But an electric Beetle is not in the plans right now.
Still in the works is a new compact crossover smaller than the Tiguan—and not on the Tiguan platform. It is due in 2021.
And nothing concrete yet on a VW pickup for the U.S. as talks continue with Ford. Ford will engineer and build the next-generation Amarok on the Ford Ranger platform for markets outside North America. Hatami said any truck for the U.S. must be a true VW, true to the brand, and there is nothing in the cycle plan at this point.
VW has shown the Tanoak unibody pickup concept based on the Atlas and it has moved to the feasibility study phase. It might not be able to overcome the challenge of how to offer a $20,000 pickup version of the $30,000 Atlas.