As of the summer of 1976 it stormed into an automotive category that hadn’t actually existed until that moment – compact sports cars with front-wheel drive. 5,000 GTI units had been planned. This quickly turned out to be a fabulous misconception. The new vehicle immediately became an icon because the affordable Golf GTI turned the automotive order upside down by breaking into the expensive sports cars segment and bringing driving dynamics to the masses. And consequently a total of 461,690 Golf GTI Mk1 rolled off the production lines. The first Golf GTI has long since become a timeless classic. With its six successors to date, it has become the world’s most successful compact sports car. More than 2.3 million units of the Golf GTI had been produced by the end of 2019. It has become a phenomenon. However, revolutionary ideas require evolutionary development. The first Golf GTI’s DNA lives on to this day in the agile front-wheel drive, sporty running gear, perfect ergonomics and authentic design. Some 45 years after the first GTI’s world première, Volkswagen is now launching the eighth generation. The first Golf GTI of the digital age will be a brand new, networked and fully-fledged sports car.
Intelligently networked electronics. The eighth Golf GTI is also the most digital GTI of all time. Its entire electronic architecture has been created from scratch. And that changes everything. The new generation of software and hardware is tangible inside and when driving the vehicle. On the interior, drivers have access to a digitally networked world of displays and controls. This enables the driver to customise the visual look and technology of their Golf GTI more intuitively and in greater detail than ever before. The driver can decide on functions including the colour range of the background lighting, the individual configuration of the Infotainment system, the Digital Cockpit and the engine sound – they also have a greater influence on their Golf GTI’s handling characteristics than previously.
Bespoke driving dynamics. The new Vehicle Dynamics Manager control system makes its debut in the Golf GTI, and it certainly shows its full potential. The Vehicle Dynamics Manager controls the XDS electronic differential lock, (electronically regulated) front-axle locking differential functions, now a standard feature across the board, and also the lateral dynamics ratio of the optionally controlled damping system (DCC) that forms part of the new GTI running gear setup. Drivers can customise their setup using the standard driving mode selection feature and the gradually adjustable DCC running gear. Electromechanically adjustable running gear systems once again significantly enhance the balance between maximum dynamics and the highest levels of comfort. In this process, sharper driving dynamics guarantee a completely new and unadulterated driving experience as the eighth Golf GTI handles extremely accurately and is agile to drive despite its unrivalled long-distance comfort. For example, running gear engineers have in effect entirely eliminated understeer, a typical characteristic of front-wheel drive vehicles whereby the vehicle’s front wheels tend to lose grip through quick corners. The new Golf GTI races through corners extremely neutrally, even at high speeds on race tracks, and also accelerates out of corners without any loss of traction.
Performance engine becomes GTI standard. The new Golf GTI is powered by a 180 kW (245 PS) 2.0-litre turbocharged direct injection engine (TSI). The maximum torque is 370 Nm. The GTI engine (EA888 evo4) in this output level had been reserved for the predecessor Golf GTI Performancewhich was available as an alternative to the basic model (169 kW/230 PS) at a surcharge. Now the 245 PS engine is part of the standard range. The TSI unit has been coupled with a manual 6-speed gearbox – a combination that is a firm favourite with sports car purists. An extremely quick-shifting 7-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG) is available as an optional alternative. The electronically limited top speed is 250 km/h in both cases (full power and consumption values will follow homologation approval).
Exterior GTI features. Compared with the predecessor the new Golf GTI has become flatter, more elongated and dynamic. Designers created each body part from scratch and worked with aerodynamicists to perfectly hone the vehicle in the wind tunnel. The drag coefficient (Cd) of the basic model dropped from 0.3 to 0.275. The aerodynamics have also been improved by a range of individual measures. These include Cd-optimised exterior mirrors, aerodynamic corners and a bespoke GTI roof spoiler, extensive underbody panelling as well as aerodynamically optimised features in the wheel housing liners (displacement elements at front, spoiler at rear). The new sports car also features a range of traditional and completely new exterior GTI features. The red strip in the radiator grille is imperative for a GTI. This strip originates from the first GTI generation in which it completely framed the plastic radiator grille. Today this red strip stretches across the vehicle’s entire front above the radiator grille and merges with the wings. For the first time the red GTI strip is refined by a parallel LED crossbar at the bottom. In each case, this LED crossbar stretches from the outside of the standard LED headlights to the VW badge arranged in the centre of the radiator grille. This gives the Golf GTI a new and unmistakeable light signature. The bottom section of the front panel also features GTI-specific design with the typical, black, honeycomb air intake. LED fog lights designed in a brand new X formation are available as an optional extra. Other exterior GTI characteristics include the front spoiler, side sills and rear diffuser frame, forming an all-round design unit. The 17-inch Richmond alloy wheels that come as standard have also been designed exclusively for the new Golf GTI. The exhaust system’s tailpipes, arranged to the left and right of the rear diffuser, as well as chrome/red GTI badges on the front wings, the tailgate and on the radiator grille are also specific to the Golf GTI.
Interior GTI features. Interior highlights include new sports seats with integrated head restraints that are reminiscent of the first Golf GTI thanks to their special ergonomics, red stitching and a tartan Scalepaper style fabric on the seat and backrest areas. It goes without saying that the new multifunction sports steering wheel has been individually designed with a red appliqué and the GTI badge. Another typical Golf GTI feature is the honeycomb pattern on the dash panel and door trim. The new Engine Start/Stop button comes as standard in the Golf GTI. Once the doors have been opened, it pulses red until the engine has been started. UX designers have also developed a new GTI graphic for the standard Digital Cockpit. It can be opened using the new View button on the steering wheel. It is made up of a combination of three round instruments: the rev counter with GTI logo in the centre surrounded by one round instrument each on the left and right. These can be individually assigned, for instance to show the engine’s boost pressure or the current power output.
Golf Mk8 – general standard equipment. Every new Golf is fitted with assist systems such as the Lane Assist lane keeping system, Autonomous Emergency Braking Front Assist with Pedestrian and Cyclist Monitoring, XDS electronic differential lock and also Car2X (local communication with other vehicles and the traffic infrastructure). In the interior the Digital Cockpit and standard 8.25-inch Composition infotainment system have been digitalised and integrated into a network, providing We Connect and We Connect Plus online services and functions. Other standard features include a multifunction steering wheel, single-zone automatic climate control, the Press & Drive comfort start system, a Bluetooth provision for mobile telephone, LED headlights, LED tail light clusters, LED daytime running lights, LED reading lights and two USB-C ports. This range of equipment has been extended significantly for the GTI.
Golf GTI Mk8 – equipment in detail. On the exterior, the equipment outlined here is supplemented by 17-inch alloy wheels, a customised front section, a grooved rear diffuser, a standalone roof spoiler, the corresponding model logos, individual tailpipes, red brake calipers and sill extensions. The functions include a sports running gear (lowered by 15 mm), a front-axle locking differential, sound actuator and the Keyless Access locking and starting system. All pedals are made of stainless steel. Pre-sales of the new Golf GTI will start this summer.