Hot hatched: 8th-gen Volkswagen Golf GTI launched
The Volkswagen Golf GTI is considered one of the greatest car icons of all time, and for good reason. Debuting in 1975 at the Frankfurt International Motor Show (IAA), the Golf pioneered an automotive category that hadn’t actually existed until that moment: hot hatches. Now with six successors to date, Volkswagen’s Golf has become the world’s most successful hot hatch and more than 2.3 million units had been produced by the end of 2019.
Forty-five years after the first GTI’s world premiere, Volkswagen is now launching its eighth generation. The first Golf GTI of the digital age will be a brand new, networked, and fully-fledged sporting vehicle.
The eighth rendition of the Golf GTI is the most digital GTI of all time. Its entire electronic architecture has been created from the ground up. On the interior, drivers have access to a fully reworked world of displays and controls. And it’s fully digital, too, allowing the driver to customize the visual look and technology of their Golf GTI more intuitively. The driver can also decide on functions including the color range of the background lighting and the individual configuration of the infotainment system, the Digital Cockpit and the engine sound.
“Each member of our team is aware of the responsibility on their shoulders when developing a new Golf. Evolving an icon like this is an enormous challenge but also the most exciting thing that can happen to you as a designer,” explains Klaus Bischoff, head of Volkswagen Group Design and the Volkswagen brand’s design department. He continues: “The Golf GTI also requires an evolution or even a reinvention of the very specific cues of this sports car. And I think that we have done a particularly good job with the new Golf GTI.”
The new Golf GTI is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injection EA888 evo4 TSI engine that makes 242hp and 370Nm of torque. The TSI unit is coupled with a standard manual six-speed transmission or an optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The electronically limited top speed is 250kph in both cases.
“The Golf GTI has always been synonymous with pure driving pleasure. Few other vehicles in this category offer a similarly finely tuned balance between sportiness and comfort,” says Karsten Schebsdat, Manager Vehicle Dynamics and Chassis Control Systems. “Considering the Golf GTI Mk7 already handled great, we aimed to further enhance the driving pleasure of the Mk8 Golf GTI with even more direct steering response and handling. And we have succeeded.”
Compared to its predecessor, the new Golf GTI body is now lower, longer and even sportier. Volkswagen designers created each body part from scratch and it now features a mix of traditional and completely new exterior features. The red strip in the radiator grille stretches across the vehicle’s entire front end above the radiator grille, merging with the fenders. For the first time, the red GTI strip is refined by a parallel LED crossbar below it, which gives the Golf GTI a new and unmistakable light signature. The exhaust system’s tailpipes, arranged either side of the rear diffuser, as well as chrome/red GTI badges on the front fenders, the hatch and on the radiator grille are also specific to the Golf GTI.
Interior highlights include new sport seats with integrated head restraints that are reminiscent of the first Golf GTI thanks to their red stitching and a tartan “Scalepaper” style fabric on the seat and backrest areas. There is also a new multifunction sport steering wheel that has been specifically designed with a red appliqué and the GTI badge. The new engine start/stop button comes as standard in the Golf GTI and pulses red until the engine has been started. The Digital Cockpit and standard 8.25-inch Composition Media infotainment system have been digitalized and integrated into a network, providing We Connect and We Connect Plus online services and functions.
Every new Golf GTI is fitted with notable safety features such as the Lane Assist lane keeping system, and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian and Cyclist Monitoring. Other standard features include a multifunction steering wheel, single-zone automatic climate control, the Press & Drive comfort start system, Bluetooth mobile phone pairing, LED headlights, taillight clusters, and LED daytime running lights, LED reading lights and two USB-C ports. This range of equipment has been extended significantly for the GTI.
“The new GTI is a design statement; it merges a dynamic, sporty character with uncompromising functionality,” Bischoff adds. “The new Golf GTI boasts a very low, visual center of gravity which we achieved through the wide air intakes at the front and the striking shoulder line. This superior, sporty character gives aesthetic expression to the vehicle’s potential.”