The GLI has long been VW’s GTI with a trunk. At least it was until the last generation — like today’s Nice Price or No Dice car — diverged from the Golf for the first time. Let’s see if it still has enough GTI in its DNA to make you want to pay its Do-Re-Mi.
If you’ve ever asked how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood, then you’ve most likely also postulated on how many miles is too many miles when considering a model of motor vehicle manifesting more than just modest mileage. Seriously, the two go hand in hand.
In the case of yesterday’s 2002 BMW 330xi, that answer seemed to be 260,000 miles. That’s what the little AWD sedan had done, and it was a critical factor for many of you. Not even the promise of extensive maintenance over those miles could make the number more palatable, and in the end, the car and its $5,900 price fell in an 83 percent No Dice loss.
If the miles and the presentation were deciding factors in that Bimmer’s fate, then perhaps another German sport sedan with fewer miles and a less beat-up presentation would possibly do better. I suppose that for the sake of science we’ll have to find out.
This 2012 Volkswagen GLI technically isn’t German at all. These sedans are based on the sixth-generation Jetta, and that model was designed and built in Mexico specifically for the North American market. Volkswagen de México did an admirable job with the Jetta, as it served as the company’s top-selling vehicle in the U.S. until that position was usurped by the Tiguan in 2018.
The GLI mated the unfussy styling of the Jetta with a deeper front valance, subtle boot lid lip and black rocker trim for an overall more aggressive appearance. The look isn’t all that exciting, but then neither is it polarizing.
A multilink independent rear suspension and a half-inch lower ride height on 17-inch alloy wheels make the GLI a pretty strong package. With the standard 200 horsepower 2-liter EA888 four under the hood, the GLI can power to 60 mph in a few ticks under seven seconds. The six-speed stick on this car should make that a reasonably engaging experience too.
That six-speed was standard equipment on the GLI, and that brings up an important point about the model in general and this car in particular. You see, these cars lend themselves to modification. Whether it’s a cold air intake, coil-over suspension or turbo downpipe that’s been added, it’s hard to find one that hasn’t been messed with in one way or another.
That’s what makes this one pretty interesting, as it appears to be completely stock. That doesn’t mean, however, that its current state is exactly as it was when it left the Puebla, Mexico factory. The biggest change? That would be the new engine, which the seller says was installed less than a year ago in replacement of the factory mill. So out of the modest 98K on the GLI’s clock, only 3K has been added under new management.
Why did the old motor go belly up? The ad doesn’t say, but it does somewhat comically note that the car has enjoyed regular oil changes… on that old engine. With 3,ooo miles under its belt, it may be time for the new mill to get its fluid changed too.
The rest of the car seems to be in great shape. The Tornado Red paint appears shiny, and the wheels look to have been kept away from the curbs. The interior features red stitching on the cloth-upholstered sport seats and a decent amount of brightwork on the dash and doors to liven up its coal-mine darkness. The manual HVAC controls and lack of heated seats are down-market elements, but a leather-wrapped asymmetrical steering wheel and aluminum pedal covers sort of make up for that.
The title is clean, and the seller goes to great lengths promoting the car in its Craigslist ad, overlaying KBB and CarFax info on the photos and offering a link to a video walk-around. The ad also notes a couple of issues. None should be a deal killer, but the upcoming need for new tires represents a pretty sizable expense. The ad also notes the need for a new ABS wheel sensor and a fix for an airbag light on the dash. Both of those are safety-related issues and could affect the car’s ability to pass inspection if you’re in a jurisdiction that does such things.
The seller claims that he and his wife have switched to a work-at-home lifestyle, reducing their driving needs substantially. For that reason, they are setting the GLI free. Well, not free exactly, they do want $7,800 for it. That or a moped.
We don’t deal in mopeds here, just cold, hard cash. Or, sometimes cashier’s checks. That being the case, what’s your take on this almost entirely stock GLI with a replacement engine and a $7,800 price tag? Does that seem like a deal for a good looking and competent sport sedan? Or, does that price mean this GLI can GTFO?
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