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Chicago 2011: Volkwagen Partners with Fender, Panasonic on New GLI Stereo

Fender isn't just a name known to musicians. It's a name known to any serious music fan as the guitar brand of choice for countless industry greats. After more than half a century of producing such iconic guitars and amplifiers as the Stratocaster and Twin Reverb, the company has partnered with Volkswagen and Panasonic to take on the new challenge of providing signature Fender sound to automotive stereo systems.

Available as standard equipment exclusively on the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn and Autobahn with navigation models, the new Fender Premium Audio System uses Panasonic speaker technology and Fender engineering tweaks to provide a dramatically different sound from lesser VW stereo offerings. Using the same mounting points and trim, the Fender nine-speaker system is designed to sound just as good at higher volumes as lower ones, as well as providing a tone more in line with an actual live performance.

We were able to spend some time inside a 2012 Jetta GLI equipped with the Fender Premium Audio System and came away impressed with both its punch and its definition. Also impressive was its ability to be played at high volumes without any undesirable vibration or rattling from either interior or exterior trim, as is so common in aftermarket stereo installations we've experienced. Fender representatives confirmed that eliminating rattles and resonance were high priorities with the system, as was the ability for the system to be played at high volume without harshness.

While neither Volkswagen nor Fender would confirm or deny that Fender audio technology will come to other Volkswagen models, both admitted that expanding the availability of the system is being seriously investigated, especially for the upcoming Passat.