Volkswagen might not be bringing the entry level Golf here in the U.S. but that does not mean the German company is leaving performance hungry buyers high and dry. Volkswagen is bringing the GTI and the R models to the U.S. with the company using the Geneva Motor Show to showcase the eighth generation GTI.
The design of the outgoing GTI is certainly a tough act to follow, with the seventh generation model blending a balanced recipe of refinement and performance into a sensibly designed package. The eighth gen model largely sticks to this proven script, but adds new touches to make the hatch fresher and more aggressive. The front fascia for example features a standard light bar above the radiator grille which adds GTI exclusive red accents to help create a unified strip of light. This is a very striking detail, and is probably our favorite item on the GTI.
The optional LED light clusters in the lower part of the front bumper are unique too, and they help highlight the GTI’s meaner leaner face. The GTI featured in Volkswagen’s press images comes adorned with wheels that are similar to the ones on the outgoing model, but they have a more angular look to them, and are sleeker as a result. The trademark red brake calipers are still present, and will remain very potent calling cards to the GTIs mission in life. The rear fascia also gains redesigned lighting elements, and now incorporates a modified slanted rear spoiler on the roof. The iconic red hued GTI logo is now mounted on the center (versus the lower corner) and even features a new style of font.
While the exterior plays the role of subtle gentleman, look inside the interior, and it clearly steals the show when it comes to wowing the masses. The interior has been heavily revamped, with every GTI model arriving with a 10-inch infotainment system that is nestled above the center stack, digital gauges, and even colorful ambient lighting with 30 different colors to choose from. A slightly bigger 10.2 inch infotainment system is optional, and it comes equipped with integrated navigation and so much more. Volkswagen also kept the plaid cloth seats which incorporate red accents and stitching. Meanwhile, the car’s GTE and GTD siblings use blue and gray accents to help them stand out and establish their own distinct identity.
The center console is heavily reworked, and features a stubby shift by wire system for the DSG, as well as a square shaped button for the engine stop/start function that actually blips red before you fire up the engine from its slumber. The tweaked steering wheel features the new VW logo along with a larger cross section, and even more red accents. There is still plenty of fun elements to be found inside the cabin, but the overall sense of it trying to achieve a higher level of maturity is also apparent when one cross examines the finer details.
Like other GTIs, this one still gets its muscle from a 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine that is mated to either a standard six speed manual, or the optional and fore-mentioned seven speed dual clutch (DSG) automatic transmission. European models make 245 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. Volkswagen did not reveal figures for the U.S. market, but we suspect they are not too far off from their European siblings. The new GTI features a MacPherson front axle and a multi-link rear suspension but there is a new adaptive chassis control system on board. Known as DCC, the system reacts to road conditions while also factoring in variables such as braking input, steering, and even acceleration to help instantly change the dampers. Volkswagen claims that the new system will allow for a greater range of difference between comfort and some of the sportier driving modes baked into the car.
This is a strong debut, but it is still too early to determine if it can dethrone the Mk7 GTI in driving fun, with our time in a GTI Sport awhile ago being marked with smiles, and a true appreciation of the car’s finer charms
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.