Revealed: The next-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI, with new style and more power

The hot hatch lives on.

For more than four decades, the Volkswagen Golf GTI has been the standard for affordable, European-designed performance hatchbacks. Over seven generations, more than 380,000 Americans have taken home a GTI, enjoying the mix of driving enjoyment and everyday utility that few competitors even approach.

Now, Volkswagen unveiled the eighth-generation GTI, with more power and more technology than its predecessor that’s relevant to drivers worldwide. Don’t worry: there’s still a stick shift, a functional hatch and all the other features that make the GTI so flexible – all demonstrating a commitment by the driving enthusiasts at Volkswagen to keep building cars other drivers can enjoy.

The new Golf GTI arrives with a power boost. In European trim, the GTI makes 241 hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque, generated by an upgraded version of the 2-liter turbocharged, four-cylinder engine. That power hits the road through either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG automatic transmission.

The style of the eighth-generation GTI takes on a sharper, sleeker edge than its predecessor. Built off an updated version of the MQB chassis, the new GTI maintains the comfortable yet compact dimensions of the current GTI. The new look includes a more dramatic light signature with standard LED headlamps featuring a red and while illuminated strip across the grille, and optional fog lights integrated into the air intake in an “X” layout. New standard LED taillights, a more pronounced spoiler and the classic C-pillar shape of the Golf complete the look.

For improved handing, the GTI updates its suspension geometry but maintains the key basics, such as an independent, multilink rear suspension. The brakes and wheels have also been updated, with new designs up to an optional 19-inch wheel.

The most dramatic changes to the GTI come from new technology. Start with the driver, who will control the road with the standard Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, available with an optional heads-up display. The in-dash entertainment and control center now lives behind an updated touchscreen of up to 10 inches diagonally, with fully automatic Climatronic climate control below. The background lighting in the dash and passenger compartment can be customized in up to 30 colors. The updated Car-Net1 with available in-car WiFi2 and compatible wireless cellphone charging also now come standard.

Beyond the interior technology, the GTI now comes with an updated Front Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking and pedestrian monitoring as standard, along with a long list of available tech including Lane Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and Park Assist.3

And yes, there’s still a golf-ball shifter on the manual and a plaid design for the cloth seats – albeit in a new checked design called Scalepaper.

Expect the new GTI to come to America sometime in the second half of 2021, as a model-year 2022 vehicle.

Volkswagen Golf GTI