2012 Volkswagen GLI Review


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Average User Score

4.85 stars

Based on 5 reviews

European Sport Sedan On A Budget by rhody
 — I looked at a lot of cars when I was making this selection. I originally test drove a GTI Autobahn but it is a work car and I didn't feel the hatchback space was enough for the times I need to haul p... Read More
I Love My 2012 Jetta Gli! by akfarren
 — I went to the dealer to find a new Jetta that would primarily be my commuter. I wanted a new version of my 2004 Jetta, which has served me well for 7 years. When I test drove the GLI, I fell in love.... Read More
Geat Bang For The Buck In A Sporty Sedan by A2CarGuy
 — Only recently bought this one as a daily driver. Love it so far, especially the DSG transmission with its Sport and/or manual/SW paddle modes. Engine HP & torque seems to be underrated, as it is quick... Read More

2012 Volkswagen GLI Overview

Overall User Score

4.8 out of 5 stars4.8 out of 5 stars4.8 out of 5 stars4.8 out of 5 stars4.8 out of 5 stars4.85

Based on 5 reviews

2012 Volkswagen GLI

Though tough to distinguish from its parent Jetta sedan at first glance, the 2012 Volkswagen GLI is essentially a whole new car. After a two-year leave of absence, the GLI returns as a separate model that VW hopes will find an affordable niche somewhere between the traditional luxury boat and the sporty compact sedan, both of which typify Euro-style autos available in the U.S. Though still favored (or cursed) with the Jetta moniker in most reviews, what VW has done to demean its low-budget compact sedan is, for the most part, rectified in the GLI. First, the GLI packs a turbocharged inline four-cylinder (I4) mill that now puts out 200 hp; second, the GLI boasts both front and rear disc brakes; third, the GLI sports the traditional GTI-inspired multilink Independent Performance suspension as a concession to driving panache. Finally, the GLI flaunts a significantly upgraded, some would say almost posh, cabin that actually welcomes occupants as opposed to merely accepting them. Luggage capacity in VW’s re-done semi-sport sedan is about 15 cubic feet, the same as its Jetta siblings, and, of course, split-folding rear seats increase this space considerably.

Available for 2012 in two trims, the Base and the Autobahn, the GLI shows its less caffeinated Jetta cousins what a true Euro-sedan should be, and at a pretty fair price. Alas, though pricier, most of the GLI’s competition, including the Ford Focus ST, Honda Civic Si, Subaru WRX, and VW’s own GTI also offer a more refined ride, heady handling, and equal or better powerplants, at least according to the majority of reviews.

Notwithstanding its perceived inferiority to many of the bigger names out there, the 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 does considerably more than get the GLI out of its own way. Combined with the standard 6-speed manual transmission, the four-banger throws out 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque, with a few experts predicting a combined average of 31 mpg. Additionally, a dual-clutch 6-speed auto-manual transmission, the touted DSG, complete with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, is available for either trim. Gas mileage with the DSG auto-manual transmission is expected to average 32 combined. Both transmissions, incidentally, feature a transmission hill-holder for stress-free uphill starts. As a bonus, the 2012 GLI is rated as a partial zero-emissions vehicle (PZEV) in states with California emissions standards.

Appearance, comfort, and convenience features in the 2012 Base GLI include standard 17-inch alloy wheels, cloth upholstery, power windows and heated outside mirrors, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shifter knob. All this complements standard cruise control, front and overhead consoles, floormats and manual air conditioning. Techno-features, meanwhile, include an MP3-compatible 6-CD changer with six speakers, Sirius satellite radio, memory card slot, USB connection and Bluetooth hands-free communications technology.

Upping the ante, the GLI Autobahn adds standard 18-inch alloy wheels, a power sunroof, leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control and a cooled storage compartment. Additionally, nine premium Fender speakers include a single subwoofer,  while iPod integration and audio input capability toss some extra kick into the entertainment setup.

Options for VW’s sporty GLI sedan are few and limited to the Autobahn trim. Among the extras are a voice-activated hard-drive-based navigation system, keyless entry and push-button start. As a release date for the 2012 GLI gets closer, it is to be hoped that the options list will expand a bit.

Safety items in the 2012 GLI include four-wheel disc antilock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control, front side-mounted airbags, front and rear head airbags, daytime running lights, front fog/driving lights and a post-collision safety system.


Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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Looking for a Used GLI in your area?
CarGurus has 76 nationwide GLI listings starting at $6,700.

Volkswagen GLI Questions


How Hard Is It To Lower A 2012 Gli? Just Wanting A Few Inches Or So.

72 views with 7 answers (last answer 3 years ago)
Derek Tremblay

I Want To Hard Wire My Radar Detector In My 2012 Jetta Gli, Which Fuse Or W...

i looked where the fuses go, but didn't see an obvious location. Can anyone help, i can't bear to look at this 12v adaptor running down by dash

1 view with 1 answer (last answer 4 years ago)