The all-new, more powerful, more high-tech Volkswagen Golf GTI has debuted, right in time for the Geneva motor show. The original hot hatch is now set to make nearly 250 horsepower and there will also be a plug-in version that offers an all-electric range of 60 kilometres.
VW's Golf GTI is the pioneer hot hatch, with the tartan and red-striped performance-oriented compact first arriving in 1974. Since then, it's been near the top of the heap for drivers wanting a quick and affordable hatch and this one looks to keep that tradition going.
The GTI gets a new version of VW's 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that now makes 245 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. That's up from the current GTI's 229 hp from a same-sized engine. The hatch will be available with a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, information that been confirmed for Europe, as today's debut is for the Euro-spec GTI. Volkswagen Canada has confirmed that we will be getting this new car, along with the new Mk 8 Golf it's based on, but that we're going to be getting the current cars for model year 2020 and 2021, so we might not get this new version until model year 2022.
While it's too early to say that we'll get this one here, the PHEV version of the car, the GTE, is also upgraded for the Mk 8. The 150-hp 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder and 114-hp electric motor give that car the same 245 hp max as the GTI, with 295 lb-ft of torque. More importantly, at least for when you're not going full-send, the GTE offers a 60-km electric range and can stay in EV mode to about 130 km/h.
The suspension has long been the hallmark of the GTI, offering a nimble and involving driving experience that's tough to duplicate. The latest car adds a new Vehicle Dynamics Manager controller that controls the XDS electronic-locking differential as well as the optional DCC adaptive dampers, working to improve dynamics and comfort.
Inside, the GTI adds a 10.25-inch digital dash and 10-inch infotainment system as well as 30 colours of ambient lighting. There's a new shift knob that's not pictured (don't worry, it's still a golf ball) and the DSG comes with a much smaller controller in the console. The tartan seats are also still on the menu, which is much appreciated.
Outside, the GTI is more expressive than past cars, which looked almost indistinguishable from the slower Golfs. LED headlights form a crossbar with the grille and is lined by that red trim for GTI (blue for GTE), and now an LED strip in the mirrors and illumination in the grille continue that colour pattern in more places on the car. Below the grille is a large honeycomb pattern air intake with X-shape optional fog lights integrated into the corners. 17-inch alloys are standard but up to 19-inch versions will be available.
We'll keep you updated on the car's performance figures, when VW Canada narrows down when the car will get here, and how much it will cost when it does.