2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI vs. 2019 BMW 3 Series Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Volkswagen Jetta GLI are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Jetta GLI has a standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Jetta GLI has a standard backup collision prevention system that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

Both the Jetta GLI and the 3 Series Sedan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

Warranty

The Jetta GLI comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The 3 Series Sedan’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 22000 miles sooner.

There are over 89 percent more Volkswagen dealers than there are BMW dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Jetta GLI’s warranty.

Reliability

The Volkswagen Jetta GLI’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the 3 Series Sedan’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

Transmission

The Jetta GLI offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer a manual transmission.

The Jetta GLI offers an optional sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer an SMG.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Jetta GLI’s standard front brake rotors are larger than those on the 3 Series Sedan:

Jetta GLI

3 Series Sedan

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

13 inches

The Jetta GLI stops shorter than the 3 Series Sedan:

Jetta GLI

3 Series Sedan

70 to 0 MPH

160 feet

165 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

The Jetta GLI’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 330i’s standard 45 series tires.

The Jetta GLI has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the 3 Series Sedan; it requires you to depend on its run-flat tires, which limits mileage and speed before they are repaired. If a run-flat is damaged beyond repair by a road hazard your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

The Jetta GLI 35th Anniversary Edition handles at .95 G’s, while the 330i xDrive pulls only .89 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Jetta GLI’s turning circle is 1 foot tighter than the 3 Series Sedan’s (36.4 feet vs. 37.4 feet). The Jetta GLI’s turning circle is 2.8 feet tighter than the 3 Series Sedan xDrive’s (36.4 feet vs. 39.2 feet).

Chassis

The Volkswagen Jetta GLI may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 350 to 700 pounds less than the BMW 3 Series Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

The Jetta GLI has a much larger trunk than the 3 Series Sedan (14.1 vs. 13 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Jetta GLI Autobahn keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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