Las Vegas - Back in the 1980s, the Volkswagen Jetta CLi was a highly sought-after sedan in South Africa. It was essentially a Golf GTI with a boot, and in 16-valve form, it was pretty quick for its day.
The CLI nameplate faded into obscurity with the 8V-only third-generation model, although the legendary VR6 certainly kept things exciting in that generation, and the CLi badge fell away altogether when the fourth iteration of the Jetta was launched in the late ’90s.
But that’s enough history for today. The point is that the CLi has always had an equivalent, the GLi, in the US market, and it exists to this day as something of a booted GTI based on the latest-generation Jetta that was never launched locally.
And now, Volkswagen’s North America division is showing its further potential, with the Jetta GLI Performance Concept that was revealed at the SEMA show in Las Vegas this week.
Not only does it boast a wide-body kit and hunkered down stance, but Volkswagen has also teamed up with RacingLine to perform some serious tinkering beneath the bonnet of the concept car. The modified Jetta’s 2.0-litre turbocharged engine produces 260kW and 405Nm, up from the standard GLI’s 170kW and 350Nm outputs.
To achieve this, RacingLine installed its IS38 turbo-based performance package, which also includes a carbon fibre cold-air intake and performance intercooler, while an oil management kit and oil cooler aid with thermal management of the motor’s oil. Power is delivered to the front wheels via the factory six-speed transmission mated to an upgraded performance clutch package.
Stopping power is provided by a Stage 3+ six-piston forged calliper big brake kit with carbon ceramic discs.
To help keep things tidy through the corners, it installed a TrackSport coil-over suspension kit with a tuning package that promises to deliver a track-worthy suspension that is as at home on the street.
Of course, out on the street, you’re not going to mistake this for an ordinary Jetta GLI. The Performance Concept boasts unique front and rear fenders that have been widened by 2cm, all featuring backside vents.
The motorsport-inspired flares are tied together at the profile through larger profile side skirts. A custom front bumper boasts larger grille intakes, while the rear bodywork sports updated grille inserts and a muscular lower valance that frames the car’s twin-exit sport muffler. Finally, a custom hexagon-themed matte black vinyl wrap transitions to the car’s factory shade of Kings Red Metallic paint.
“The Jetta GLI concept was an opportunity for our team to draw from our passion for motorsports and create a vision that is even more expressive and exciting than the production vehicle already is,” said Reto Brun, the senior director of VW’s California Design Centre.
“The wide body design gives this GLI concept the stance that every enthusiast dreams of and the graphic treatment underlines its more aggressive nature, while incorporating classic GLI elements.”
Now don’t you wish you could see something like this in South Africa?