2019 Jetta GLI driving on interstate

What does GLI mean on a Volkswagen Jetta?

GLI Designation: Not Just a Name

Like its sibling, the Volkswagen Golf GTI, the Volkswagen Jetta GLI has a mysterious name. In many inventories, the Jetta GLI is listed separately from the Jetta (including ours). But why? What makes the Jetta GLI special over other significant high-level Jetta models, like the R-Line? Well, we’re here to explain it.

What does the GLI mean on a Volkswagen Jetta?


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2019 Jetta GLI partial front shotGLI Acronym Explained

Simply, it means “Grand Luxe Injection.” To the most people, that probably doesn’t mean a whole lot. Let us break it down. There are multiple steps to the historic Volkswagen naming conventions that help explain this:

  • L = Luxe This was the base model.
  • LS = Luxe Special This was the middle trim, with a few more features.
  • GT/GL = Grand Tourisme / Grand Luxe Focused on higher performance or more luxury, respectively.
  • GTI/GLI = GT Injection / GL Injection This originally meant that the vehicles had fuel injected engines.

Why Fuel-Injection Meant Performance

While all modern vehicles have fuel injection, this wasn’t originally the case. Fuel-injected engines produced considerably more power than their carburetor counterparts. This is because the fuel is sprayed directly into the engine cylinders with fuel injection instead of having to go through the carburetor first. So, GLI is a hold over from the old days when it meant much higher performance. The Jetta GLI still reflects that.

What It Means Today

The Jetta GLI uses the 2.0L TSI® turbocharged engine. TSI = turbocharged stratified engine. Basically, it uses technology refined in the TDI diesel engine, and applies it to regular gasoline vehicles. The result is more power and higher efficiency. Those benefits come at a considerably higher cost, which is why it’s not included on basic Jetta models. Take a more in-depth look at how the Jetta and the Jetta GLI differ.

Interested in Driving a Jetta GLI?

Give us a call or send us a message. We’d be happy to schedule a test drive for you and answer any questions that you may have.