We can finally show you the production version of the Golf 8 GTI! After poring over myriad speculative renderings and spy shots of the eagerly awaited hot hatch for several months, we now know what the kingpin of the 8th-generation Golf range in South Africa looks like. It’ll be here in the last quarter of 2020.
As the clock counts down to the opening of the Geneva Show, Volkswagen has already shown its Touareg R and followed it up with a media release about the Golf 8 GTI, GTE and GTD. As is often the case with pre-show information, technical details (including performance details) of the new GTI are still thin at this stage, but the marketing machine is in full swing: “Newly designed and engineered, (the Golf GTI) is fully digitalized and networked. Put simply, it’s a Golf GTI that’s perfect for the modern era,” the company claims.
The Golf 8 GTI's characteristic X-shaped fog light clusters consist of 5 LED modules apiece.
Going on to describe the GTI “as an agile, raw, efficient and high-tech compact sportscar”, the Wolfsburg-based firm confirmed the newcomer is powered by an EA888 (evo4) 2.0-litre turbocharged and direct-injection 4-cylinder engine with peak outputs of 180 kW and 370 Nm of torque; don't be worried, fanboys, there will definitely be hotter versions to come! A 6-speed manual gearbox (MQ350) is standard in the Europen market, but we believe the local GTI will be exclusively equipped with the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission gearbox (DQ381 DSG).
The Golf 8 GTI is underpinned by a McPherson strut-type front- and a multi-link rear suspension (it rides 15-mm lower than its stablemates), but further incorporates a new Vehicle Dynamics Manager driving-dynamics control system that coordinates the workings of the electronic differential lock (XDS) and the lateral functionality of the adaptive damping system (DCC) – if so equipped.
This view of the Golf 8 GTI shows the illuminated bar that runs above the newcomer's headlights and along the top edge of its grille.
The Volkswagen's vehicle setup can be extended in Individual mode to go beyond the range of Comfort, Eco and Sport driving modes and the driver can set/store their personal driving profile using a digital slider, the firm says. For example, beyond the Comfort setting, “the body (can be) ‘decoupled’ from the road surface as much as possible”, to select as pliant a ride quality as possible. Beyond the Sport setting, however, the driver can select the firmest damping available for minimal body movement and optimal handling responses.
Restrained, but purposeful looks
Those who have studied the appearance of the Golf 8 will recognise that the premium hatchback's (standard LED) headlights are positioned low to form a striking crossbar in conjunction with the top of the hatchback’s slim radiator grille. In the Golf 8 GTI derivative, the crossbar is topped off by a distinctive red line that runs the width of the GTI’s front end. What’s more, once the daytime running lights are activated, such as when the driver approaches the vehicle with the remote fob, LED strips atop the headlamp clusters and the leading edge of the grille light up to underline the red strip.
The black cladding strips accent the side skirts and extend into the diffuser-style rear-bumper apron.
The front bumper features a typically large, honeycomb-pattern lower air intake grille framed on the outside by swoopy black inserts. For a usually restrained design, the GTI is marvellously detailed: note the ornamental 5-piece fog light clusters that create a pair of X-shapes, one at either end of the lower bumper.
The GTI 8 GTI comes standard with 17-inch Richmond aluminium-alloy wheels accented by red brake calipers (18- or 19-inch rims will be optional) and its wider side skirts sills feature black cladding strips that extend into the motorsport-inspired rear diffuser. A spoiler extends the roofline at the back of the car and the GTI lettering has been reposition to appear centrally under the VW emblem.
Volkswagen ensured the design of the multifunction steering wheel recognised the tillers of GTIs past.
Retrolicious high-tech interior
As a nod to its storied heritage, the Golf 8 GTI’s sports steering wheel features a trio of silver "double spokes" and a recessed Wolfsburg emblem; the pedals are festooned with stainless-steel covers.
As retro as it looks, however, the multifunction leather-trimmed wheel is all new and features the usual array of touch controls as well as a Travel Assist button (if specified) that enables the hot hatchback to offer driving assistance at speeds of up to 210 kph when the system is engaged.
Meanwhile, the classic plaid fabric trim for the GTI’s sport seats makes another appearance in the 8th generation hatchback, but in a new checked design called Scalepaper. The seams of the grey-and-black design are red, which is complemented by the similar-coloured accents on the edges of the steering wheel’s lower spoke.
The front sports seats feature red detailing on their side trim as well as in the weave of the tartan fabric.
Once you step into the Golf 8 GTI’s cockpit, its Innovision Cockpit (the combination of the 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit instrument cluster and the 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system, including navigation) is automatically activated and the start/stop button pulses red until the engine is started.
The featured car features single-zone automatic climate control (Climatronic), the aforementioned Press & Drive comfort start system, LED reading lights and two USB-C ports. The Lane Assist lane-keeping system, Front Assist (Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring), Car2X (local communication with other vehicles and the traffic infrastructure) and We Connect and We Connect Plus online services are included, but obviously not all of those systems are confirmed for South African-spec GTI derivatives.
And lastly, the LED background lighting, which also comes as standard on the GTI, embeds the displays and all other illuminated interior areas (dash panel, door trim, storage compartment – with an interface for a mobile 'phones, as well as the footwell) in a spectrum of 30 configurable colours. We'll bring you more info on the Golf 8 GTI as it becomes available.