It’s been 44 years since the world first saw the quintessential hot hatch, the Volkswagen Golf GTI. We’ve gone nearly a full decade without a new generation model, but that officially changed Wednesday. Now, VW rolled out the heavily revised, eighth-generation GTI, bringing its most iconic surviving model into the 2020s.
To that end, the GTI follows in the standard Golf’s footsteps with new styling, updated technology and — thankfully — more power. At this year’s Geneva Motor Show, the German automaker will roll out three new performance models. The new GTI will make its way to the U.S., however we won’t see either the diesel GTD or the hybrid GTE shown above.
How much more power do we get?
For this generation, the 2021 Volkswagen GTI gets a new version of its EA888 drivetrain. That means you still get a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder unit, but with a healthy power bump from the old Mk7. The “evo4”, as Volkswagen calls it, puts out 245 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed MQ350 manual gearbox still comes standard, while a seven-speed DQ381 DSG transmission is available as an option.
It’s not just about tacking on more power, though. VW has also updated its DCC (Dynamic Chassis Control) system, and added a new dynamics system known as the “Vehicle Dynamics Manager”. That system makes the most of the available XDS electronic differential lock and the DCC to improve cornering stability over the old model.
The 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk8 also has its suspension lowered 0.6 inches from the standard Golf.
The GTI grows up
Now, the 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI also gets an interior update in addition to the exterior changes. No surprises there, but what’s curious — and perhaps disappointing — is how Volkswagen modernized the interior. You still get the red accents as you do on the exterior, but the traditional gear lever has been replaced with a smaller switch, like the new Porsche 911. At least in photos, the interior looks a bit more sedate, including the plaid seats. VW did keep the design and the red accents, but some may not see it as vibrant or fun as the older GTIs.
On the flip side, one area the 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI crushes the old models is on technology. Gone are the old analog dials, and in comes the 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit. VW also upped the infotainment system to a 10-inch unit, and the new GTI has Car2X technology, allowing it to communicate with other vehicles and traffic infrastructure, where the technology is currently in use.
On top of the standard digital displays, this GTI also comes with standard LED headlights and taillights and two USB-C parts. Every new Golf including the GTI also gets front automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and lane keep assist, among a host of other conventional safety and comfort features like automatic climate control.
Volkswagen hasn’t announced pricing for the 2021 Golf GTI yet. We expect to see the new GTI later this year, and should have more information closer to its official launch. We’ll have more on the new GTI soon, but watch the video on the standard Golf below if you want to see more.