The Volkswagen Golf GTI has been a crowd favorite for a long time. It is an affordable performance hatchback. To date, it has sold over 380,000 in the US, proving its popularity as a real workhorse. About 45 percent of the total volume of GTIs are sold in the US. The outgoing seventh-generation model was the most successful GTI in its 44-year history.
Volkswagen recently unveiled the eighth-generation GTI, with more power and upgraded technology. But it has kept back the stick shift, a functional hatch, and all the other features that make the GTI so flexible and something that people enjoy driving.
"We've taken the seventh-generation car's formula and added a lot of great features. Whether it's power- and performance-related, visual, design, dynamism, digitalization, infotainment. Everything you come to expect that's standard has been revolutionized rather than revolutionized; it is, after all, a GTI. We play it a little bit safe when it comes to the design because you would never want to mistake it for anything else," said Megan Closset, the product manager of the Golf series cars.
The GTI makes 241 hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque, generated by an upgraded version of the 2-liter turbocharged, four-cylinder engine. One can opt to drive with a six-speed manual or a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission. The engineers say that the extra power won't compromise fuel economy. The car has yet to get clearance from the Environmental Protection Agency, but its efficiency will be comparable to the Seventh GTI Golf, which gives 25 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway, and 27 mpg combined with the seven-speed dual-clutch.
Built off an updated version of the MQB chassis, the new GTI has kept the comfortable and compact dimensions of the previous GTI version. The changes are in the light fixtures, the standard LED headlamps feature a red and white illuminated strip across the grille, and optional fog lights integrated into the air intake in an “X” layout. New standard LED taillights, and the classic C-pillar shape of the Golf complete the look. For improved handing, the GTI has updated the suspension. The brakes and wheels have also been updated with new designs up to an optional 19-inch wheel.
Karsten Schebsdat, Volkswagen's manager for vehicle dynamics and chassis control systems, explained his team's goal was to make the GTI quicker without compromising on driving pleasure. This was achieved by tightening the suspension, shedding weight from key components (like the front subframe), and with new tech electronics. It allows drivers to choose their mode and even configure and save their preferred parameters. The end result, according to Schebsdat, is a much wider spread between comfort and sport.
The biggest changes have been made in the steering. There is the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, available with an optional heads-up display. A 10 -inch touchscreen entertainment center has been introduced, with fully automatic Climatronic climate control below. New lighting options allow you to customize the dashboard and passenger compartment lights with up to 30 color options. There is a Car-Net1 with WiFi2 and compatible wireless cellphone charging. The new GT1 has a Front Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking and pedestrian monitoring along with the standard added on tech for Lane Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Park Assist 3.
Maintaining their Golf tradition, Volkswagen still has a golf-ball shifter on the manual and new plaid design, called Scalepaper, for the car seats. The new GTI was to come to America sometime in the second half of 2021, as a model-year 2022 vehicle, but this date may change following the pandemic.
It will be built alongside the standard Golf in Wolfsburg, Germany. The pricing is yet not revealed, but it is said that it will only be about 10 percent more expensive than the current model sourced from Puebla, Mexico.
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