Review Video: 2016 MOMO Edition Volkswagen Jetta GLI

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While preparing the 2016 MOMO Edition Volkswagen Jetta GLI for entry into this year’s fifth annual Targa Trophy German Car Festival, I witnessed a young man by the name of Stephen Maxamillian Cobos, and his girlfriend, Kelly Pircher circumnavigating the MOMO Jetta with a mystified curiosity akin to 16th century explorers sailing in the name of the Spanish crown. After offering a friendly “hello” to the curious couple, Stephen inquired, “MOMO GLI? When did they come out with that one?”

And that’s the problem. Volkswagen hasn’t come out with it yet, but they need to. What you’re looking at is a SEMA Show special that has taken the already peppy Jetta GLI, and spiced it up with Italian MOMO style and more performance.

On the performance front, the Jetta’s been invigorated with an APR Stage 1 tune, a carbon fiber Carbonio intake, and an S-Type Borla exhaust. The engine upgrades amount to around 230 horsepower at the front tires. Calculating for a 15 percent driveline loss, the MOMO Edition Jetta GLI’s packing 270 horsepower at the crank, and it feels like it. I was surprised how close the car’s acceleration felt to that of the 292-hp Golf R.

I’ve always heard good things about APR engine software, but despite the praise, I’ve remained skeptical. I had figured an aftermarket ECU tune would make Volkswagen’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder wake up like a screaming two-month-old at 2 a.m. One moment, nothing, the next moment, bombs bursting in your brain.

I was wrong.

MOMO Edition Jetta GLI and Targa Trophy (19)

Whatever amount of power the stock motor produces at a certain RPM, the APR Stage 1 tune adds another layer of thrust. Imagine the stock VW motor’s torque and power curves. Now imagine 20 strips of bacon piled on top. You want to bite into the juicy thrust of an APR-tuned VW motor.

The accompanying exhaust note moves the eardrums nicely, too. Stock, the GLI has a nice timbre, which is incredible because a good-sounding four-cylinder engine is as rare as a smile from behind the counter at your local DMV. For the MOMO Edition, Borla took the stock VW motor’s song, and twisted the dial clockwise; not too much, but just enough to make things exciting, while not oppressively loud in the cabin.

Sometimes aftermarket exhaust systems have the tendency to amplify unwanted high frequencies, thus transforming sophisticated-sounding four-cylinder engines into clatter-blasters that appeal to ignorant teenagers hell bent on irritating the world. Borla’s S-Type system amplifies all the good frequencies, and leaves the crappy ones out.

As someone who believes a V8 swap is always the answer, I’ve never been a fan of loud exhausts on four-bangers, but the Borla system on the MOMO Edition Jetta GLI did nothing but add to the car’s driving excitement.

MOMO Edition Jetta GLI and Targa Trophy (20)

The MOMO Jetta GLI looks exciting standing still, too, thanks to its 19 x 8.5” MOMO Revenge wheels finished in matte anthracite. Wheels that nice deserve a hug, so thanks to H&R Street Performance coilovers, the Jetta’s body embraces the wheels nicely. An unfortunate side-effect of that low stance means the wheel wells occasionally kiss the tires in more spirited driving, but with the suspension’s ride height adjustability, a higher setup can be achieved in just a few minutes.

Lean in for a closer look, and behind the wheels you’ll see monobloc four-piston Brembo brake calipers ready to put the kung-fu grip on 14.4-inch-diameter cross-drilled, two-piece front rotors, also by Brembo. Out back, the MOMO Jetta wears the same 12.2-inch brakes as the Golf R. When you combine the upgraded brakes with the sticky 235/35 ZR19 Pirelli P Zero tires, one stab of the brake pedal awakens the supercar within the MOMO Jetta GLI.

Even though I was ride-height restricted to a 7/10ths pace, I had no problem keeping up with faster cars while driving in the Targa Trophy German Car Festival. For the MOMO Jetta GLI to be competitive at 7/10ths is a testament to the upgrade package’s capability. Had I an extra inch of ride height, I’d imagine the car would have been a jaw-dropping sleeper, and it would have been exhilarating to drive. At “show car” ride height, the Jetta was fun in the twisties, but its canyon-carving ability was nothing to fantasize about.

MOMO Edition Jetta GLI and Targa Trophy (6)

Despite being so low, the ride quality was actually pretty good. This isn’t like one of those lowered sport compacts you see bobbing over minor surface imperfections on the freeway. The car still has compliance even though it’s almost tucking rim.

The MOMO theme continues with the Jetta’s well-appointed interior, too. Yellow stitching was added to the seats, shift boot and e-brake boot. Yellow striping adorns the door and dash trim as well, and to finish it all off, the MOMO logo is embroidered into the headrests. The interior modifications are a gentle reminder you’re being coddled in 50 years of MOMO motorsport heritage.

Overall, the fusion of Italian MOMO style with today’s Mark VI Volkswagen Jetta seems fitting. The original Mark I Jetta was designed by Giugiaro. Thirty-seven years later, the pinnacle Jetta GLI is getting its rightful infusion of Italian flavor once again. But should Volkswagen wait until the Jetta’s 40th anniversary for this special edition to become factory-backed? No. It’s good enough to release now.

I saw the hunger in Stephen and Kelly’s eyes the second they began to approach the car. It would be tragic to keep fans like that waiting.

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