Set to follow shortly after the eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf which made its debut towards the end of last month is the higher-performance GTI version, which we see here undergoing cold weather tests in a much-reduced state of disguise compared to before.

Winter wheel-and-tyre combination used here aside, the GTI will feature visual cues to distinguish it from the more mainstream variants. A wide, mesh-style grille within the front bumper adds to the visual aggression of the performance hatchback, complemented by corner aprons to guide airflow. Around the back, revised bodywork aim to give the GTI a sportier stance, along with dual exhaust exits.

Our sources say that the Mk8 Golf GTI will continue to employ the EA888 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine in further developed form, which is estimated to produce from 255 hp in standard form, and possibly up to 290 hp in a TCR-badged guise. Driveline will carry over the six-speed manual and seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmissions, while 0-100 km/h is estimated to dip beneath the six-second mark.

Earlier plans to give the Golf GTI an electrified powertrain have been put on hold by Volkswagen Group chairman Herbert Diess, in an apparent reversal of the earlier decision made by his predecessor Matthias Müller, our sources said. Particular attention has been paid to steering accuracy, with a heavily reworked power steering system for added feedback and a more direct ratio.

Inside, the Golf GTI will take after the interior architecture of the standard model with a dual digital display which pairs the 10.25-inch driver instrumentation set with a touchscreen measuring either 8.25 inches or 10 inches. For DSG models, the gear selector will similarly use the 992 Porsche 911-esque item which is a compact, stubby rocker switch.

Sources suggest that the Mk8 Golf GTI will make its public debut in mid-2020, or less than a year after the debut of the eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf. This will be a five-door model only, doing away with the three-door bodystyle which had been available for previous generations of the Golf GTI.