The Volkswagen Golf GTI has been the hot yuppie machine for quite some time now, combining class, performance and practicality in one handsome package. There could be some who want all that with a boot though, and for them VW has the Jetta GLI. This is the 2012 Jetta GLI, the hot version of the Mk6 Golf based sedan that was launched mid last year.

The Jetta has grown in size. Compared to its Mk5 Golf based predecessor, this car is 86 mm longer to make 4.64 metres and the familiar 2,578 mm wheelbase of the Golf has been extended to 2,650 mm to better match C-segment rivals.

Unlike the previous gen, this Jetta GLI doesn’t look 100% identical to the GTI from the front, just like how the standard Jetta differs from the Golf. One can spot a GLI from its more prominent grille and bigger air intake, plus vertical fog lamps. Of course there’s the ‘GLI’ badge.

The GLI is powered by a 200 hp/280 Nm turbocharged four-pot, the same engine that powers the GTI in the US. This is not the old EA113 of the Mk5 but the latest EA888 engine without valvelift, presumably detuned to meet strict emission standards. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard; DSG with steering paddles is an option.

One key difference under the skin between the US and European Jetta is that the former comes with torsion beam rear suspension while Europeans get multi links. This is not the case for the North American Jetta GLI, which comes with “track tuned four-way independent performance suspension”, which should revert to a multi-link setup. Other GLI specific kit include an XDS e-diff and red brake calipers.

The cabin has sport bucket seats and a flat-bottom steering wheel, all with red stitching. There’s also the GLI logo and aluminum accents for the full effect. Customers can choose cloth or V-Tex Leatherette for the interior. Jetta GLI ‘Autobahn’ variants also come with a Fender Premium Audio System featuring proprietary Panasonic speaker technology. Read more about the sound system here.

Have you noticed that that although it looks familiar, the Jetta’s dash differs slightly from the Golf’s. The sedan’s centre console is grouped for a more driver focused “cockpit” feel and the angle of the centre stack is tilted slightly towards the driver.

Look after the jump for a video and gallery of the GLI.

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