The eighth generation Volkswagen Golf GTI has been revealed and at first glance it looks like a bit of a Mk3 all over again – but let’s have a closer look anyway…
For the eighth generation of the Volkswagen Golf, the Wolfsburgers are pulling out all the stops – instead of drip-feeding us a bunch of cars they’ve just gone and launched three performance models at the same time.
We’ll gloss over the Golf GTD and its 200 horsepower turbocharged engine serving up 400Nm of torque – that’s 100bhp per litre in a diesel. Then there’s the electrified GTE, with its system total of 245 horsepower, a zero-emissions range of 60km, and obligatory blue-coloured accents because that’s how you know the occupants are better than you.
What we’re all really here for is the new eighth generation Volkswagen Golf GTI – since 1976 those three little letters represented a class benchmark so this latest model needs to impress in a class that’s recently been shaken up by the likes of Hyundai, Renault and BMW. It’s far from a one or two horse race, and even Toyota is properly back in the hot hatch game.
Of course the internet is already out in force criticising the latest GTI as lukewarm, at least in the looks department. It’s too conservative, they cry. And the wheels suck, and I don’t like the DRLs, said a third.
Remember the last time VW dulled down the GTI? Yes, it was the early 1990s and the Mk3 Golf had just appeared, only to endure a legacy as the worst GTI generation ever, unless you count the Mk4… These were the middle ages for German hot hatch enthusiasts.
Beneath the bland exterior, the latest Golf GTI packs a lot of technology starting with the updated 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that now develops 242 horsepower. With a new by-wire twin-cutch seven-speed gearbox the GTI should accelerate quicker than ever, but you’ll be happy to know there is a six-speed manual as standard kit as well. Maximum torque is 370Nm however so far Volkswagen isn’t releasing any performance specifications, at least not before the GTI makes its official public debut at next week’s Geneva motor show.
Otherwise it’s the usual: red pinstripe, honeycomb grille, rear diffuser, twin tailpipes, perforated leather steering wheel with the obligatory squaring-off at the bottom of the rim. What is entirely new in this Golf GTI is the cabin, complete with 30 mood lighting colours, a 10.25-inch driver’s display and a 10-inch centre touchscreen. The DSG equipped cars get a little Porsche 911-like gear lever on top of the tunnel console, but if you choose the standard manual transmission VW promises you’ll get the traditional golf ball gear knob, or at least a modern take on the classic. It’s nice to see that along with al the leather you can still get semi cloth seats with the good old tartan fabric print present.
The Germans say this eighth generation Golf GTI benefits from a new suspension design (although it’s still a MacPherson front and a multi-link rear end) and new dynamic chassis control that includes an electronic differential and adaptive damping.
Pricing is also still out in the open, but expect everything to be cleared up early next month. We’ll be watching the hot hatch space closely this year to see how the new VW Golf GTI squares up to its many rivals.