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Chicago 2011: Debut of the 2012 VW Jetta GLI

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The 2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI made its debut today at the Chicago Auto Show. The car will hit the market in May and offer a number of upgrades over the other trim levels, both in terms of performance and standard features.

The 2.0-litre turbocharged engine used in many VW models is back and once again produces 200 horsepower along with 207 lb-ft of torque at 1,700 rpm. A 6-speed manual gearbox sends power to the front wheels.

Photo: Volkswagen

Fuel consumption is projected at 7.58 litres per 100 kilometres on the highway – or 7.35 L/100 km with the optional DSG autobox. The latter includes steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Notable performance-enhancing additions include a fully-independent sport suspension, an electronically-controlled XDS cross differential system and four-wheel disc brakes.

Aesthetically, the 2012 VW Jetta GLI is available with 17- or 18-inch wheels, smoked taillights and dual exhaust tips.

Meanwhile, the cabin gets sport buckets and a flat-bottom sport steering wheel (all wrapped in leather with red stitching) as well as GTI-style soft-touch plastics that should appease longtime VW fans who complained about the sub-par interior quality of the 2011 Jetta.

Finally, the GLI comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen premium VIII radio, exclusive Fender® Premium Audio, keyless entry and push-button start.

Canadian pricing has yet to be announced.

Photo: Volkswagen