2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI vs. 2019 Ford Fiesta ST

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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The Jetta GLI has standard Autonomous Emergency Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Fiesta ST doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

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 Fiesta ST 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 Fiesta ST doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Volkswagen Jetta GLI has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Fiesta ST doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

To help make backing safer, the Jetta GLI’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Fiesta ST doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the Jetta GLI and the Fiesta ST have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding and rearview cameras.

The Volkswagen Jetta GLI weighs 475 to 532 pounds more than the Ford Fiesta ST. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.


The Jetta GLI comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The Fiesta ST’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 3 years and 36,000 miles sooner.

The Jetta GLI’s corrosion warranty is 5 years longer than the Fiesta ST’s (10 vs. 5 years).


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

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Jetta GLI’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the Fiesta ST’s camshafts. If the Fiesta ST’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 12th in reliability, above the industry average. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 16th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Volkswagen vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Volkswagen 2 places higher in reliability than Ford.


The Jetta GLI’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 31 more horsepower (228 vs. 197) and 56 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 202) than the Fiesta ST’s 1.6 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Jetta GLI Auto’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Fiesta ST doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Volkswagen Jetta GLI higher (7 out of 10) than the Ford Fiesta ST (3). This means the Jetta GLI produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Fiesta ST every 15,000 miles.


The Jetta GLI offers an optional automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. The Fiesta ST doesn’t offer an automatic 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 Fiesta ST doesn’t offer an SMG.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Jetta GLI’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Fiesta ST:

Jetta GLI

Fiesta ST

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

10.95 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

9.96 inches

The Jetta GLI’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Fiesta ST are solid, not vented.

The Jetta GLI stops much shorter than the Fiesta ST:

Jetta GLI

Fiesta ST

70 to 0 MPH

160 feet

172 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Jetta GLI has larger tires than the Fiesta ST (225/40R18 vs. 205/40R17).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Jetta GLI has standard 18-inch wheels. Only 17-inch wheels are available on the Fiesta ST.

The Volkswagen Jetta GLI’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Ford Fiesta ST only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Volkswagen Jetta GLI has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Ford Fiesta ST has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The Jetta GLI has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Jetta GLI flat and controlled during cornering. The Fiesta ST’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The Jetta GLI offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Fiesta ST’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Jetta GLI’s wheelbase is 7.6 inches longer than on the Fiesta ST (105.6 inches vs. 98 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Jetta GLI is 3 inches wider in the front and 3.4 inches wider in the rear than on the Fiesta ST.

The Jetta GLI 35th Anniversary Edition handles at .95 G’s, while the Fiesta ST pulls only .87 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Passenger Space

The Jetta GLI has 9.6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Fiesta ST (94.7 vs. 85.1).

The Jetta GLI has 3.2 inches more front shoulder room, 6.2 inches more rear legroom and 5 inches more rear shoulder room than the Fiesta ST.

Cargo Capacity

The Jetta GLI has a much larger trunk than the Fiesta ST with its rear seat up (14.1 vs. 10.1 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

A maintenance reminder system is standard on the Jetta GLI to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes and vehicle inspection based on odometer mileage. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Ford doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the Fiesta ST.


The Jetta GLI Autobahn Auto has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The Fiesta ST doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

When different drivers share the Jetta GLI Autobahn, the memory seats and mirrors make it convenient. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The Fiesta ST doesn’t offer a memory system.

The Jetta GLI’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Fiesta ST’s passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.

If the windows are left open on the Jetta GLI the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows with the driver’s door power window switch. The driver of the Fiesta ST can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Jetta GLI’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Fiesta ST’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

To shield the driver’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side window, the Jetta GLI has a standard extendable sun visor. The Fiesta ST doesn’t offer extendable visors.

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 Fiesta ST doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

The Jetta GLI has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Fiesta ST doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

The Jetta GLI’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The Fiesta ST doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

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

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