As the vehicle that started the hot hatch craze, the latest Volkswagen GTI has big shoes to fill. Unlike the analog first-generation vehicles which oozed simplicity, Donut Media shows off the technologies that make the latest flagship GTI so great in the latest episode of Bumper to Bumper.
It all starts with the car’s clever front differential. We’ll spare you the detailed explanation, but it eliminates the front-wheel drive elephant in the room known as torque steer. Long story long, because the front axles are different lengths to accommodate all of the necessary FWD components, this leads to an imbalance of power going to the front wheels, which leads to pulling at the steering wheel.
Gallery: 2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI: First Drive
James May rant aside, the differential’s party piece is that it isn’t a binary accessory. It can change how locked or open it is to optimize performance (yes this is technically torque vectoring). VW accomplishes this with a computer that can completely lock, open, and lock the diff in just three-tenths of a second to optimize cornering, eliminate torque steer, and launch the car more efficiently.
While automotive purists might lose their lunch at the idea of a DSG gearbox, it doesn’t take a mechanical engineer to tell you that it’s faster than three pedals. It’s not really groundbreaking technology, but put the automatic GTI next to a manual and it will walk away in a drag race. Even if you think you can bang through the gears like a Group B rally star, nobody can compete with the DSG’s ability to change gears in just 8 milliseconds.
Aside from gear changes and torque steer reduction, the latest vehicle can alter its damper settings independently on all four wheels to deal with the road surface. It’s nothing cutting edge in the automotive industry, but still very impressive to see on a VW GTI. Regardless of being packed to the gills with tech, it’s refreshing to see that Volkswagen kept its ethos of what a car should be.