5 things you need to know about the Mk8 VW Golf GTI

five things you need to know about the new Golf GTI

The new Mk8 Volkswagen Golf GTI was revealed online overnight and will be on-sale soon, here are the 5 things you need to know about it.

The same but very different

The same but very different

The new Volkswagen Golf GTI is still built on Volkswagen’s clever push-me, pull-you MQB platform. And it continues with the old car’s 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder making 180kW and 370Nm of torque but everything else, like the suspension and technology, has been tweaked. A lot.

Indeed, the lighter, stiffer aluminium subframe from the old Golf GTI Clubsport (the kilograms lighter than the subframe on the current GTI) has been slotted underneath. The front axle spring rate has been increased by five percent and the rear is up by 15 percent. The rear axle is a new wishbone setup with an all-new damping system, damping bearings are new and the auxiliary springs have been reconfigured. Everything’s been tightened up, basically.

A clever damping system

You can change your own gears

Yep, Volkswagen has listened to performance car purists and the new Golf GTI will be available standard with a six-speed manual transmission, with a quick-shifting seven-speed DSG a cost option.

Volkswagen hasn’t released performance figures yet but in the online media presentation, Volkswagen suggested the new GTI is quicker than the old car around its handling circuit at Ehra-Lessien.

That improved lap time is likely to be because of the suspension improvements and tweaks to the Vehicle Dynamics Manager, and the greater spread of driving modes which loosen up things like traction and stability control. Indeed, Volkswagen’s driving dynamics boss, Karsten Shebsdat said if you toggle right through the drive mode selector you’ll even get the thing to drift…

You can still change gear yourself

A mode to suit every mood and road

The new Vehicle Dynamics Manager is a key part to the performance improvements of the new Golf GTI. It manages the electronically controlled front-axle locking differential, the electronic XDS differential lock as well as the lateral dynamic components of the optional electronically controlled shock absorbers (DCC) . “This higher-level control system centrally coordinates all electromechanical running gear functions,” explains Schebsdat.

“Thanks to the combination of new running gear setup plus front-axle locking differential and Vehicle Dynamics Manager we were able to elevate the Golf GTI’s outstanding overall performance to an even higher level. This applies all the more if the DCC running gear featuring a new software application and adjustable dampers is also on board.” There are several driving modes, including Comfort, Eco and Sport, as well as Individual which allows you to customise just about everything.

It still looks like a Golf GTI

It still looks like a GTI

According to Klaus Bischoff, Head of the Volkswagen Group Design department, “The new Golf GTI boasts a very low, visual centre of gravity which we achieved through the wide air intakes at the front and the striking shoulder line. This superior, sporty character gives aesthetic expression to the vehicle’s potential”.

It’s slipperier than the old car with a drag coefficient that’s dropped from 0.3 to 0.275. And everywhere else on the vehicle bits have been shaped and shaved to improve the aerodynamic efficiency of the new GTI. The fog lights are a new design too, shaped in an X formation and the 17-inch alloys are exclusive to the GTI.

You still get tartan seats

You still get tartan seats

You can’t have a Golf GTI without tartan seats and VW has delivered for the new one. Sure, there’s a new digital instrument cluster, push button start instead of a key start, an 8.25-inch infotainment screen and more. The dash and door panels get GTI staple, the honeycomb pattern and the seats are covered with a tartan fabric.

“Each member of our team is aware of the responsibility on their shoulders when developing a new Golf. Evolving an icon like this is an enormous challenge but also the most exciting thing that can happen to you as a designer”, said Klaus Bischoff, Head of Volkswagen Group Design and the Volkswagen brand’s Design department. He continued: “The Golf GTI also requires an evolution or even a reinvention of the very specific insignia of this sports car. And I think that we have done a particularly good job with the new Golf GTI.”

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Isaac Bober has been writing about cars and 4x4s for more than 20 years, has worked on some of the country's biggest motoring magazines (remember what they were?), and launched Practical Motoring. Now he's back, back again... to share dad jokes and much more.