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Chicago 2011: Debut of the 2012 VW Jetta GLI

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