The Golf GTI is an icon that’s an enormous challenge but also the most exciting thing that can happen to you as a designer, according to Klaus Bischoff, head of Volkswagen Group Design. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Golf GTI is an icon that’s an enormous challenge but also the most exciting thing that can happen to you as a designer, according to Klaus Bischoff, head of Volkswagen Group Design. Picture: SUPPLIED

Having not experienced the best start to life, from production delays to Covid-19 pouring cold water on its intended world premiere at the cancelled Geneva Motor Show, the new Volkswagen GTI also missed out on its biggest coming-out party at the annual Wörthersee Festival, which has been cancelled due to the pandemic.

Wörthersee is the biggest Volkswagen Golf GTI event in the world and is usually held in May, attracting scores of global fans. According to Volkswagen SA, the new GTI was scheduled to launch locally some time during the fourth quarter of 2020 but the pandemic has shifted this date to the first quarter of 2021. 

Here are 10 highlights to expect from the new eighth-generation GTI:

  • The eighth generation is the most digitised of them all. The driver will be able to customise the visual look of parts of the cockpit with a range of 30 background lighting colours and individual configuration of the infotainment system.
  • It will come with a sport steering wheel with multi-functionality and three silver double spokes and a recessed Wolfsburg emblem.
  • While still on the tiller, it gets a new progressive variable-rate steering system installed as standard. The variable ratios and 2.1 turns from lock-to-lock are said to significantly reduce the effort required when manoeuvring and parking, but on winding country roads the steering turns more directly.
  • Front passengers sit on new sport seats with integrated head restraints that are reminiscent of the first Golf GTI and also feature red stitching and a tartan scale-paper-style fabric on the seat and backrest areas.
  • Between the front pews will be a standard-fitment manual six-speed transmission, or you can opt for a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (DSG). The levers hark back to the 1980s iterations via a golf-ball shift lever.
A new digital display cockpit transforms the new GTI into both a premium business car and playful weekend hatch. Picture: SUPPLIED
A new digital display cockpit transforms the new GTI into both a premium business car and playful weekend hatch. Picture: SUPPLIED
  • A pulsating engine start/stop button is equipped as standard fitment.
  • The engine of the new Golf GTI is a fourth evolution of the EA888 2.0l turbo four. It produces 180kW and 370Nm. Top speed is electronically limited to 250km/h in both transmission options.
  • The new GTI is lower and longer that the Mk7. It features improved aerodynamic optimisation through exterior mirrors, a roof spoiler, extensive underbody panels and refined wheel arch linings.
  • It handles better than the previous generation thanks to an evolved electronically controlled limited-slip differential, adaptive damping and full-integration ESC, EDS and XDS+ functions under a new vehicle dynamics management system.
  • It has two stability control (ESC) stages: ESC Sport mode and ESC Off. The former minimises interventions but is still alert and ready to rein it back should a driver overcook things.