2007 VW Jetta GLI: Cranking up the heat

  • By Larry Lark Automotive Reviewer
  • Thursday, September 13, 2007 4:50pm
  • Vehicles

OK, boys and girls, a little history lesson to start this week’s review.

A Special Edition version of Volkswagen’s 2007 Jetta GLI just ended up in my driveway. Numbered 100 of 1,200, the Fahrenheit model was, I can only assume, named for German physicist Daniel Fahrenheit, credited with the temperature scale now used only in the United States.

I’m guessing the name is a clever reference to how hot this German masterwork will be perceived by the American car-buying public.

My question is will the car be marketed as a Celsius to the rest of the world – a tribute to Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius whose temperature scale is used everywhere else?

The only thing that really matters is that this car is indeed hot — or cool if you prefer. Fahrenheit has you covered either way.

Sporting a screaming Fahrenheit Yellow paint that yells “look at me” at the top of its lungs, the color scheme is carried over into interior accents and stitching on the GLI’s heated, leather sport bucket seats.

Other than that, however, the GLI is discreet: no towering wings or scooping spoilers, and no overdose of faux carbon fiber.

Also elevated is the car’s price: My six-speed automatic DSG transmission tester priced out at $28,995.

The latest version of this quintessential German sports sedan features VW’s most advanced turbocharged gasoline engine – the 2.0T four-cylinder that is a blast from the second it fires up to the second it shuts off.

The 2007 GLI 2.0T really shines when the tachometer needle edges north of 4,000 revolutions per minute, with a peak 200 horsepower coming at 6,000 rpm. There’s huge low-end performance to boot, thanks to the engine’s maximum torque of 207 lb-ft, available from just 1,800 rpm all the way up to 4,700 rpm.

Push the accelerator to the engine’s sweet spot and the 3,300-pound GLI leaps from 0 to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds as the turbo and exhaust notes whistle Dixie in the wind. With ample seating for four adults, the Fahrenheit delivers a surprising 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

For those eager to embrace the future – which leaves me out of the equation – VW offers a DSG transmission that operates in fully automatic or true manual modes. Drop the selector into “D” and the transmission operates like the advanced, six-speed automatic that it is.

For manual shifts, a flick of a shift paddle behind the steering wheel activates the manual mode. There is no clutch pedal; shifting is accomplished with dual clutches that take turns grabbing the next gear – up or down. The result is no power-transfer loss during upshifts, and computer-matched revs for perfect downshifts every time. Gear changes are imperceptible, and acceleration is effortless.

Every GLI model comes well-equipped. Mine was loaded with XM satellite radio, in-dash CD player, sunroof, automatic climate control, power everything, premium sound system, keyless entry, Electronic Stabilization Program, traction control, tire pressure monitoring system, 17-inch alloy wheels and more.

My Jetta GLI Fahrenheit was a blast to drive, with thrills and chills to match the car’s moniker. Even with the inflated price tag, one would be hard pressed to find a sports car with a better fun-per-dollar ratio.