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2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI: Driven Page 2

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Despite the retuned suspension, the GLI is a little softer than we expected. Push the GLI hard on a curvy road—like one of our favorite stretches of test tarmac, with a choppy surface, and slow, tight esses—and the front end can cower a bit while the rear tires grip confidently and seem almost impossible to fluster. What's more, the electronic stability control comes on very quickly to slow us down—seemingly before we could use all the grip available in front, at times—and we see no way to disable it. That aspect alone confirms that the GLI is no longer the hard-edged enthusiast choice.

The attitude of a sporty sedan, not a sport sedan

All that said, drive quick but not crazy-fast, and the Jetta GLI has the right attitude for a sporty sedan but not a sport sedan, with a secure yet nimble feel. The quick-ratio electric-boosted steering is about the best we've felt in a compact sedan—easy to maneuver around tight parking spaces, nicely weighted, and capable of giving some feedback from the road surface.

In all, some of the same things we like about the standard 2012 Volkswagen Jetta, we also like here. With near-perfect ride quality, the Jetta beats most of the compact-sedan competition; seats are supportive in front, and there's enough headroom and legroom for taller adults in back; and there's plenty of trunk space.

So recalibrate your expectations about GLI, and if you're considering any standard Jetta, take the GLI for a drive before you commit. Sport sedan, definitely not. Sporty sedan, indeed.


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