Volkswagen CEO North America Jonathan Browning introduces the 2012 Jetta GLI at the Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place in Chicago on February 9, 2011. UPI/Brian Kersey | License Photo
CHICAGO, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Volkswagen unveiled the sporty 2012 Jetta GLI, offering comfort and performance at an affordable price that "sets the pulse racing."
With a base price of $23,495, the Jetta GLI comes with a 2.0-liter, direct-injection turbocharged 4-cylinder engine generating 200 hp and 207 pound-feet of torque at 1,700 rpm.
The Jetta GLI "sets the pulse racing," Jonathan Browning, president and chief executive officer of Volkswagen Group of America Inc., said Wednesday at the Chicago Auto Show media preview. VW is "striving to deliver German engineering for all."
Mated to a 6-speed manual transmission estimated fuel economy is 31 mpg on the highway while the automatic improves that to 32 mpg. He described the Jetta GLI as "an honest to goodness German-quality sedan."
The GLI Autobahn adds 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, sunroof, heated front seats, a Fender Premium Audio System and an in-dash navigation system.
"What we're trying to do is get people to think about Volkswagen again," Browning told reporters after a luncheon speech to the Chicago Economic Club at McCormick Place. An estimated 1 million people are expected to attend the 103rd edition of the largest consumer auto show during its 10-day public run beginning Friday.
The show features nearly 1,000 cars, trucks, hybrids, SUVs, competition vehicles and concepts and this year has three test-driving tracks.
Browning, who became the head of the Volkswagen America brand in October, said the German automaker expects U.S. sales to increase 20 percent in 2011.
At the Jetta GLI preview, Browning showed the company's two Super Bowl ads -- one of a racing "Black Beetle" insect for the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle and the other featuring a 6-year-old dressed as Darth Vader for the Passat sedan. The popular "Darth Vader" spot was one of the favorite commercials from the Super Bowl and had been viewed more than 21 million times on YouTube in six days, the most liked spot of all-time, he said.
A survey by PSCars.com found 71 percent of respondents remembered the Volkswagen and Hyundai commercials. The consumer poll was conducted Monday and the majority of the roughly 2,000 respondents were aged 21-55 who planned to purchase or lease a car within two to four months.