Earlier in February 2019, Volkswagen unveiled its new Jetta GLI at the Chicago Auto Show, with the fresh performance derivative sitting atop the new seventh-generation line-up in the United States. But now a high-ranking VW executive refuses to rule out the possibility of a Jetta R being added at a later stage.
"Never say never," Derrick Hatami, vice president of sales and marketing for Volkswagen of America, told Motor Trend when asked about the chances of a Jetta R reaching production.
Hatami admitted the new GLI could end up cannibalising GTI sales in North America, but said he saw potential for more volume from the sedan than the hatchback. If that indeed turns out to be the case, offering a Jetta R would certainly make sense.
Of course, if the Jetta were to receive the “R” badge, it’d be another high-performance model not available to South Africans. Why? Well, as CARmag.co.za reported late in 2017, the latest-generation Jetta – which moves to the brand’s MQB platform – is not destined for local shores since there are no plans to build it in right-hand drive.
VW also recently confirmed the T-Roc R for production, but this model is likewise not expected in South Africa since the standard version is not on the cards for SA (instead, we'll receive the new, smaller T-Cross).
For the record, the Jetta GLI uses the Wolfsburg-based firm’s familiar turbocharged 2,0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which sends a GTI-flavoured 170 kW and 350 N.m to the front axle via a six-speed manual transmission (a seven-speed DSG is offered as an option). A limited-slip differential is also included.
Thanks to its sport suspension, the Jetta GLI sits some 15 mm lower to the ground than the standard model. Standard LED projector headlamps flank a black honeycomb grille with a red accent line, while brakes from the Golf R (complete with red-painted callipers) are framed by new 18-inch alloys. At the rear, standard LED taillamps are joined by a new spoiler and model-specific rear bumper complete with finned diffusor and chrome dual exhaust tips.