Volkswagen Jetta GLI Performance Concept is a Touring Car for the Road

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick

Lower, wider, and with 350 horsepower, this is one serious Jetta.

Volkswagen on Tuesday kicked off the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) 2022 show by unveiling this, the Jetta GLI Performance Concept. The sedan shares booth space with no less than eight other concepts and vehicles.

SEE ALSO: Hyundai Elantra N Line vs Volkswagen Jetta GLI Comparison: Healthy Competition

The German automaker looked to the GLI’s 38-year history when designing the Performance Concept, peppering the car with nods to previous models. It started life as a six-speed manual Jetta GLI Autobahn, before Volkswagen hung custom widebody flares on it, adding 0.8 inches (20 millimeters) at each corner. Larger side skirts tie the swollen arches together. VW has fit a custom front bumper with larger intakes to feed the uprated engine, while the rear features unique grille inserts and a more aggressive lower section. The hexagon-themed matte wrap transitions into the car’s stock 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, Senior Director Volkswagen Design Center California. “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.”

RacingLine, VW’s UK-based in-house performance shop, has gone to town under the hood. Starting with its IS38 turbo performance package, RacingLine also adds a carbon fiber cold-air intake and upgraded intercooler. Official outputs are 350 horsepower and 372 pound-feet of torque, though the IS38 setup is capable of nearly 500 horsepower. 350 sounds more than ample for a front-drive compact sedan, however; the transmission is stock, save for an upgraded performance clutch.

RacingLine also handles the suspension and brake upgrades. Enormous 15.0-inch carbon-ceramic discs feature chunky six-piston calipers. You won’t be able to easily see them however, as they’re hidden behind the super-cool Aerodisc covers adorning the 20-inch Rotiform wheels. Rotiform will be making the Aerodisc graphics available for download if you want to mimic the GLI Performance Concept look, however. Naturally, these big wheels come wrapped in summer performance rubber.

SEE ALSO: Honda Civic Si vs Volkswagen Golf GTI vs Hyundai Elantra N: Sport Compact Shootout

A RacingLine TrackSport coil-over suspension kit drops the whole package closer to terra firma, featuring inverted front dampers, aluminum bodies, and adjustable top mounts. A whole lineup of underbody bracing improves body rigidity.

Inside, VW has fit a pair of classic Recaro Pole Position ABE seats, wrapped in a custom “Texagon” theme to match the exterior details.

Will Volkswagen build a wild Jetta GLI like the Performance Concept, straight from the factory? We highly doubt it. But many of these parts are already available, showcasing how much customization is already available for Jetta owners. We wouldn’t say no to the chance to drive this one, either…

Volkswagen’s family of SEMA vehicles will be available to view at Booth #10509, starting today through November 4.

Become an AutoGuide insider. Get the latest from the automotive world first by subscribing to our newsletter here.

Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

More by Kyle Patrick

Join the conversation