Ahead of next week’s big Geneva Motor Show, Volkswagen has debuted the latest version of its GTI hot hatch icon in near-production form.
The GTI applies the sporty treatment to the Mk8 Golf, which debuted last October. While the regular model still isn’t confirmed for Canada and the US, the GTI is, which makes this our first look at the hatch destined for our shores.
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Volkswagen has largely stuck to the styling playbook it established with the Mk5 a decade and a half ago here. A thin strip of red lines the nose, running through the headlights and extending nearly to the front wheel arches. The traditional crimson fillet aft of the wheel, complete with GTI badge, should be familiar to Mk7 drivers too. New however is the car’s LED daytime running light (DRL) signature. The grille lights up as well as the headlights, giving the new-age GTI a wholly unique nighttime look. As a driver approaches, an LED strip in the headlight also lights up red.
The larger lower intake houses what will probably be the Mk8’s most controversial feature: the five-point fog lights. It’s certainly distinctive, but it also is bordering on fussy, especially with the black slashes at the outer corners.
Out back the GTI grows a larger rear spoiler. Its badge migrates to the center of the trunk — we like — and the two exhaust tips stick to the outer edges.
Standard wheels are 17-inch items. The car you see here rides on 18-inch, five-spoke wheels, and 19s will be optional as well.
Underhood is VW’s familiar 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder once more. Hey, if it ain’t broke! It does bring more firepower with it, with a quotes 242 hp and 273 lb-ft in European trim. Volkswagen is keeping the nitty-gritty details of how its turned up the wick secret for now. As before, the GTI will put its power down through the front wheels via six-speed manual (huzzah) and optional seven-speed dual-clutch auto. Those wanting even more power and driven wheels will have to wait for the R.
The Mk8 uses a McPherson front axle and a multi-link setup out back. VW’s Dynamic Chassis Control is optional, but the new Vehicle Dynamics Manager isn’t. VDM allows drivers to tailor how the electronic limited-slip differential and dampers function.
It’s inside where the most change occurs — although importantly, tartan seats are still present. Every GTI, plus the hybrid GTE and diesel GTD, comes standard with the Mk8’s 10.25-inch digital instrument panel. Another 10.0-inch screen covers infotainment duty in the center console. There are precious few buttons here, with only a handful to the left of the wheel and below the central screen. On display is the stubby little gear selector of the DSG car.
Cool ambient lighting is customizable, with 30 colour choices available. The start/stop button doesn’t change its hue, however: once the driver is in the car, it pulses red until the GTI burbles its way to life.
We can expect more news on the GTI when Geneva officially kicks off tomorrow, including pricing and performance stats. Stay tuned for more.