Just ahead of the Geneva International Motor Show, Volkswagen is showing off the eighth generation of its beloved hot hatchback, the 2021 Golf GTI. Though every indication leads to the U.S. market not getting the entry-level Golf model, VW is keeping enthusiasts in mind by confirming the hotter GTI and upcoming Golf R for America.
On the exterior, VW included some key styling enhancements to denote the GTI from the base Golf. The face wears a standard light-up bar above the radiator grille, which also features specific red accents for the GTI. This creates one continuous bar of light that stretches across most of the car’s face and is probably the most striking design feature. The new optional LED light clusters in the huge honeycomb front bumper are unique too, adding some additional style to the GTI’s more aggressive face. This GTI wears a new wheel that’s similar to the previous car, albeit with a more angular five-spoke design. The signature red brake calipers, however, are still present.
New LED taillights include a sleek design and a modified slanted rear spoiler stands out in the rear. We also love the etched detailing the rear diffuser, which also includes dual-exhaust tips. The iconic red GTI logo is a new font and moves to the center of the vehicle from the lower corner.
While purists should adore the subtle enhancements to the exterior, there’s more going on inside. Every GTI comes with a new 10-inch infotainment system that sits above the center stack, digital gauges, and ambient lighting with 30 colors to choose from. Optional is the bigger 10.2-inch digital cluster, which includes navigation integrated into the center touchscreen.
Volkswagen kept the fan-favorite plaid seats, which incorporate GTI-specific red stitching and red accents. This car’s Euro-only GTE and GTD siblings use blue and gray color schemes, respectively. The center console is completely re-worked and features a new stubby shift-by-wire gear selector for the DSG and a square-shaped start/stop button that blinks red before firing up the engine. Finally, a redesigned steering wheel wears the new VW logo, along with a larger center section and even more red accent coloring. There’s a real grown-up feeling with this GTI’s interior, but thankfully the most recognizable cues are still here to keep things fun.
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Similar to the previous generation, the new GTI uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that mates to a standard six-speed manual, or optional seven-speed dual-clutch DSG transmission. European models are rated at 245 horsepower (180 Kilowatts) and 273 pound-feet (370 Newton-meters) of torque, with U.S. specs not yet confirmed by VW. The new GTI uses a McPherson front axle and multi-link rear suspension, though there is a new adaptive chassis control system. Known as DCC, the system reacts to road conditions, while also taking into account steering input, braking, and acceleration to change the adaptive dampers almost instantly. Volkswagen says this new system will allow for a much-improved range between comfort and sport driving modes.
Though it’s still too early to get the entire picture with the new GTI, including pricing and performance figures, this is a promising debut. Volkswagen keeps many of the most-loved cues from past generations while pointing the GTI toward the future with its interior. Check back next week for our first look video with the new GTI live from the Geneva International Motor Show.
Gallery: 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI
90th International Geneva Motor Show
The new Golf GTI*, GTD* and GTE*
All equipment specifications apply to the German market
* Near-production prototype
Première of the new Golf GTI, GTE and GTD –
Volkswagen brings sports icons into the digital age
Three new Golf models, three characters
• Petrol, hybrid and diesel. Golf GTI* and partially electric Golf GTE*
now with identical output; Golf GTD* is highly efficient over long
• Innovision Cockpit. Golf GTI, GTE and GTD always feature the digital instrument cluster and 10-inch infotainment system
• Always on. We Connect services bring streaming, Internet Radio
and other online features on board the GTI, GTE and GTD
• Pulse of the digital world. New start-stop button pulses red before
the engine starts
• Charismatic design. New bumpers, new roof spoiler, new diffuser
and new lettering
• Light as chrome. The Golf GTI, GTE and GTD will be equipped with
an illuminated radiator grille bar as standard for the first time
• LEDs in an X-shape. Five strikingly arranged LEDs create the fog
lights in the bumpers (optional)
• Icon – the 8th generation. The new Golf GTI is a pure, efficient,
high-tech, compact sports car for the digital age
• Turbocharged petrol engine. The GTI engine generates 180 kW
(245 PS). It powers the unmistakeable, original version of the compact sports car
• Quicker gear shifts. DSG with new shift-by-wire gearbox features
unique characteristics in the Golf GTI
• Light output with style. LED headlights and LED tail light clusters,
exterior and interior background lighting
• GTI charisma. Open front bumper with GTI wings and honeycomb
grille, GTI diffuser with tailpipes on the left and right
• Motorsport features. Striking black side sills form a line with the
front splitter and rear diffuser
• GTI steering wheel. New multifunction leather sports steering
wheel with touch controls, perforated leather and GTI clasp in
• GTI for a new age. Digital Cockpit and 30-colour background lighting including GTI-specific mode
• Electrified sports car. New performance plug-in hybrid combines
electrical sustainability with vast, dynamic performance
• Turbocharged petrol engine with electric motor. The 180 kW (245
PS) Golf GTE has reached the performance level of the Golf GTI
• Zero local emissions. Battery with 50% more energy capacity (13
kWh) extends electrical range to around 60 kilometres
• All-electric start. The performance plug-in hybrid drive in the Golf
GTE starts on electrical power alone, with zero emissions
• Predictive hybrid control. The sophisticated electronics of the GTE
incorporates GPS and route data into powertrain control
• IQ.DRIVE (optional). Travel Assist provides Golf GTE drivers with
active steering, accelerating and braking (up to 210 km/h)
• GTE – distinguishing features. GTE with no visible tailpipes (GTI has
a tailpipe on the right and left, GTD has double tailpipe on the left)
• GTE instruments. Digital Cockpit and Infotainment system with
GTE-specific efficiency and range displays
• Endurance athlete. High efficiency levels of the new GTD engine
enable very long ranges
• Turbocharged diesel engine. 147 kW (200 PS) of power and 400
Nm of torque are the vital statistics of the most powerful Golf with
a TDI engine
• Double SCR catalytic converter. Twin dosing significantly reduces
nitrogen oxides (NOx) generated by the TDI compared with the engine in the predecessor model
• Always automatic. New Golf GTD launched onto the market with a
7-speed dual-clutch gearbox (DSG) as standard
• LED headlights as standard. GTD has option of illuminated radiator
grille fin which merges into the LED headlights
• GTD insignia. Air intake grille in honeycomb design, red brake calipers, illuminated radiator grille and red pulsing start button
• GTD interior. Background lighting with 30 colours and new Digital
Cockpit provide extra GTD ambience
• Digital GTD. New touch and slide surfaces, screens and shift-bywire
THE NEW GOLF GTI, GOLF GTE and GOLF GTD
Wolfsburg, March 2020. A car becomes an icon when its design DNA and
character remain recognisable for decades. It is also important for an icon
to provide fresh ideas in order to cope with the challenges of our time. Just
like the Golf GTI. For 44 years, Volkswagen has been reinventing this icon of
sporty, compact cars while retaining the original concept – generation after
generation. The eighth reinterpretation of the Golf GTI is now celebrating its
debut. Newly designed and engineered – fully digitalised and networked. A
Golf GTI that is fit for the modern era. The Golf Mk1 from 1976 has long
evolved into a vehicle family. This was followed in 1982 by the first Golf GTD
with a turbocharged diesel engine, and in 2014 by the first Golf GTE to feature plug-in hybrid drive. And so it stands to reason that a new Golf GTD and
a new Golf GTE are celebrating their world premières alongside the new Golf
GTI. Three Golf variants, three characters, three efficient and clean drive systems – but one design and specification philosophy.
GTI. The new Golf GTI is an agile, raw, efficient and high-tech compact
sports car for the digital age – with 180 kW (245 PS).
GTE. With a system output of 180 kW, the new Golf GTE is just as powerful
as the Golf GTI. The hybrid drive is designed for sporting performance and
combines electrical sustainability and zero-emission distances of around
60 kilometres with a great dynamic performance.
GTD. The new Golf GTD is a real endurance athlete. In this variant an output
of 147 kW (200 PS) has been coupled with very long fuel ranges.
Dynamic front end. The design of the new, sporty Golf models embodies
unadulterated charisma. The standard LED headlights are positioned low
down and form a striking crossbar in conjunction with the radiator grille.
Towards the top of the bonnet a narrow line spans the front end – red in the
case of the GTI, blue for the GTE and silver for the GTD. All are typical insignia
just like the red radiator grille frame on the first Golf GTI. Once the daytime
running lights are activated – when the driver approaches with the key (optional) – an LED strip in the headlight mirrors the red, blue or silver line. As
standard, the radiator grille is illuminated as a continuation of the LED strip
for the first time. This creates the completely new, unmistakable headlight
design of the Golf GTI, GTE and GTD. Another striking and unmistakable feature is the typically large, one-piece lower air intake grille in a honeycomb
pattern. It is framed on the outside by a black application, with a striking
wing-like design on the sides. The new GTI insignia also include the optional
fog lights which are now integrated into the air intake grille in an X-shape.
Striking outline. The side section features the eye-catching, standard 17-
inch Richmond alloy wheels, unique to the GTI. 18-inch or 19-inch rims are
available on request. Painted red: brake calipers of the new, sporty Golf
models. The GTI and GTD also carry a signet with the respective lettering on
the side of the front wing panel. The GTE does not boast this feature but
instead has an extra supply connection on the passenger side for charging
the battery. All three models feature wider side skirts sills in black – with a
splitter design similar to that found on racing cars. The sills come together
to form the front spoiler and the rear diffuser. An individualised spoiler extends the roof line at the very top of the outline. The dominant design element of the side section is the C-pillar, a characteristic element of all versions of the Golf. It visually propels the vehicle body forwards and transposes the iconic graphics of the original Golf and GTI into the modern era.
Superior rear end. The new Golf has a powerful shoulder section and striking
rear end design. This also benefits the new, sporty models, which are fitted
with LED tail light clusters as standard. The GTI, GTE or GTD lettering is now
positioned centrally under the Volkswagen emblem rather than on the driver
side as it was before. The roof spoiler is extended rearwards and merges
with the black edging around the rear window, making the Golf GTI, GTE and
GTD appear even flatter than the less powerful models. At the bottom, the
sporty diffuser distinguishes the new versions from the other versions of the
series. They are also differentiated by the tailpipes of the exhaust systems –
the GTI has one tailpipe on the left and one on the right, the GTD has a double tailpipe on the left, and there is no tailpipe in sight on the GTE.
Dynamic insignia. Ever since the first Golf GTI made its debut, this car has
been like a perfectly fitting pair of jeans. Right from the outset, Volkswagen
created distinctive, dynamic insignia with the multitude of interior details –
the sports steering wheel featuring three silver double spokes and recessed
Wolfsburg emblem, the gear knob in the shape of a black golf ball, GTI sports
seats in tartan with black side bolsters – all of which are considered classic
A nod to the past, a nod to the future. Although Volkswagen is enhancing
the digital and networking capabilities of the eighth-generation Golf – and
with it the GTI, GTE and GTD – to an unprecedented extent in order to future-proof the range, many of the original insignia can still be found on
board. However, the sports steering wheel of yesteryear has been transformed into a new multifunction leather sports steering wheel with touch
controls and an optionally integrated Travel Assist button to help the powerful Golf models reach a top speed of 210 km/h while Travel Assist is engaged. The three silver spokes have been retained – in the GTI, the interior
of the central spoke has a red finish, while the GTE and GTD have blue and
silver finishes respectively. The classic checked pattern of the sports seats is
also retained. The new checked design is called Scalepaper. The seams of
the grey and black design are red in the GTI, blue in the GTE and light grey
in the GTD. Red, blue or black are also used for all decorative seams and
edging, depending on the model.
Fit for the modern age. The Innovision Cockpit extends upwards upon opening the doors in the Golf GTI, GTE and GTD. It is a fusion of the top-of-therange version of the 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit (digital instruments) and the
10-inch navigation system. The visual and functional blend of the two
screens creates a new and consistent, digital architecture. The background
lighting, which also comes as standard, embeds the displays and all other
illuminated interior areas (dash panel, door trim, storage compartment with
interface for mobile telephone, footwell) in a spectrum of 30 configurable
colours. The Golf GTI, which is equipped with a 6-speed manual gearbox as
standard, features a brand new GTI gear knob. The GTI is available with an
optional, automatic 7-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG); the GTD comes exclusively with this DSG. The GTE features a 6-speed DSG developed for hybrid drive. The models equipped with a DSG are generally shift by wire; the
DSG gear lever itself has been designed specifically. The functionality of the
standard start/stop button for the drive systems of the three sporty Golf
models has been customised – once the doors have been opened, it pulses
red until the drive system has been started.
Basic equipment. In general, every new Golf is fitted with assist systems
including the Lane Assist lane keeping system, Front Assist Autonomous
Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring, XDS electronic differential
lock and Car2X (local communication with other vehicles and the traffic infrastructure). Standard digital instruments and an infotainment system to
suit the mobile We Connect and We Connect Plus online services and functions that have been integrated here. A multifunction steering wheel, singlezone automatic climate control (Climatronic), 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 USBC ports. This range of equipment is once again extended significantly for GTI,
GTE and GTD.
Enhanced equipment. 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 tailpipe systems, red brake calipers and sill extensions. The functions include sports running gear (only GTI and GTD; 15 mm lower) and the
Keyless Access locking and starting system and associated lighting. In the
interior, the top-of-the-range version of the Digital Cockpit (multiple screen
configurations) and the 10-inch navigation system merge to form the Innovision Cockpit. The colour and graphics of the Digital Cockpit correspond to
the respective model. In many other details, as is the case with the exterior,
the Golf GTI, GTE, GTD are also differentiated by the specific colours assigned to the respective drive system – red (GTI), blue (GTE) and silver (GTD).
All pedals are made of stainless steel.
GTI with turbocharged petrol engine. The new Golf GTI is powered by a 180
kW (245 PS) 2.0-litre turbocharged injection engine (EA888 evo4). The maximum torque is 370 Nm. The four-cylinder engine is coupled with a 6-speed
manual gearbox (MQ350) as standard. A 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox
(DQ381 DSG) is available as an option.
GTE with plug-in hybrid. The plug-in hybrid drive of the Golf GTE essentially
consists of a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine (EA211 TSI) with 110 kW
(150 PS), the hybrid module with an electric motor (85 kW), a 6-speed DSG
(DQ400e) and a new lithium-ion battery. The powertrain delivers a maximum power output of 180 kW (245 PS) and a maximum system torque of
400 Nm. Compared with its predecessor, the all-electric range has increased
significantly to now around 60 km. Volkswagen’s engineers have achieved
the increase in range by improving the Golf’s aerodynamics and managing
to increase the energy content of the battery by 50% to 13 kWh. It can be
driven at speeds of up to 130 km/h in all-electric mode. When the battery is
sufficiently charged, the Golf GTE always starts in all-electric E-MODE. The
drive switches to Hybrid mode if the energy capacity of the battery drops
below a certain level or if the speed rises above 130 km/h. In Hybrid mode,
the driver has the option of maintaining the state of charge using three symbols on the Infotainment system screen (the equal sign “=”), increasing it (up
arrow “∧”) or reducing it to a defined level (down arrow “∨”). This makes it
possible to drive into an urban destination area under electric power and
with zero emissions, even at the end of a longer journey, if so required.
Whenever route guidance is active in the navigation system, the battery
manager also predictively takes into account road and topographical data to
ensure the set battery energy is available when you reach your destination.
During this process, battery use is adapted on the basis of the route data in
order to achieve an optimum electrical range.
GTD with turbocharged diesel engine. The long-distance sports car features
a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine (TDI) with an output of
147 kW (200 PS). The Golf GTD engine (EA288 evo series) generates an impressively high maximum torque of 400 Nm. The TDI already delivers this
power at very low engine speeds. As with all the turbocharged diesel engines in the new Golf, the GTD’s drive system is linked to two SCR catalytic
converters connected in series (SCR = Selective Catalytic Reduction). This
new twin dosing SCR system with dual AdBlue injection greatly reduces nitrogen oxide emissions compared with its predecessor. Volkswagen offers
the Golf GTD with a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox (DQ381 DSG) as standard.
Improved comfort and dynamics. Volkswagen has developed and perfected
the running gear of the Golf GTI, GTE and GTD with the combination of a
McPherson front axle and a multi-link rear suspension. A new driving dynamics control system known as the Vehicle Dynamics Manager is used for
the first time. The system controls both the XDS function and the lateral
dynamics components of the regulated dampers (optional DCC). This significantly increases the spread between maximum comfort and maximum dynamics, and the vehicle benefits from significantly sharpened driving dynamics as a result.
DCC adaptive chassis control. DDC adaptive chassis control continuously reacts to the road surface and driving situation while taking account of various
elements including steering, braking and acceleration manoeuvres. By
means of the set driving profile mode, the driver can influence the reduction
in body motion as desired. The required damping is calculated for each
wheel and adjusted at the four shock absorbers within fractions of a second.
Consequently, DCC always provides the highest level of driving comfort and
ensures ideal driving dynamics in combination with the driving dynamics
manager. In the latest DCC generation, the vehicle setup can be extended in
INDIVIDUAL mode to go beyond the existing range of the fixed COMFORT,
ECO and SPORT modes. The driver can accurately set and store their personal driving profile using a digital slider. Beyond the COMFORT setting, the
body is “decoupled” from the road surface as much as possible, thus boosting driving comfort. Beyond the SPORT setting, there is an extended setting
range with maximum damping for minimised body movements and extremely direct handling for that unadulterated GTI, GTD and GTE feeling.