Yes, we now come to the all-important GTI version of the Mk7 Volkswagen Golf, which has been shown at the Paris motor show in concept form. This is basically what the production model will look like when it hits markets early next year and replaces the Mk6 GTI.
At its heart is a turbocharged 2.0 litre direct-injected petrol engine from the EA888 family that produces 220 PS and 350 Nm of torque (10 PS and 70 Nm more than in the previous GTI) but if you desire more, you can have a factory-installed performance pack which pushes output to 230 PS. Volkswagen refers to the two states of engine tune as Stage 1 and 2 respectively.
Stage 1 allows the Mk7 GTI to get from 0-100 km/h in 6.6 seconds and max out at 246 km/h, while the Stage 2 version is one-tenth of a second faster to 100 km/h and tops out at 250 km/h. You can have either a manual or DSG; both have six speeds.
Besides more oomph, the performance pack also gives you 17-inch brakes (16s are standard) with GTI badges on the callipers and a front axle differential lock (VAQ), which reduces understeer by feeding power to the outside wheel when the car tackles a bend. Needless to say, this helps the car corner faster and also improves all-round traction.
There’s a new progressive steering system offered as standard. This is essentially variable-ratio steering – the system’s light and easy at low speeds and when parking, and more responsive and direct when you’re really going for it.
How does it differ from the regular Golf on the outside? Well, apart from the obvious GTI badges here and there, the hot hatch gets twin 80 mm-diameter tailpipes, a roof spoiler, red brake callipers and a honeycomb structure for the air inlet screens, amongst others.
The smoked rear lamps are LED; so are the front fog lamps and the license plate lighting. The signature GTI red stripe sits on the bottom edge of the front grille, extending through the housings of the bi-xenon headlamps, which we think is pretty cool. And how could you miss those lateral aero fins in the lower bumper?
Tyres are 225/45 series; 17-inch wheels are standard but 18s can be specified. A GTI sport chassis means the car sits 15 mm lower than the regular Golf, giving it a fuller stance and doubtless improves performance in the twisties.
Homages to GTIs of the past include a golf ball gear knob (for the manual, obviously), a selection of production colours that have carried on throughout, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, classic GTI ‘Denver,’ ‘Detroit’ and ‘Glendale’ wheels and tartan seat covers.
Finally, the tedious matter of fuel consumption: at an impressive claimed 6.0 litres per 100 km it’s an 18% improvement over the previous-gen Golf GTI. Performance and fuel economy are truly not mutually exclusive any more.