The Volkswagen Golf started a trend back in 1975 which has, in some ways, changed the automotive landscape forever. The genre-defining Golf GTI took a humdrum hatchback and made it interesting in the same way an M5 made an ordinary BMW 5-Series a joyous experience. But it’s been 45 years since the original GTI was outed, what’s this 8th-generation car got over a Mk1?
In short, refinement and technology. The recipe never really changed, but it got better with the advent of using better ingredients to create this icon. In 1975, it was just the lone GTI variant that was floated out to sea, however with the Golf 8 there’s two additional hot variants sharing the lime light as well, namely the GTE and GTD.
We’ll get to the Golf GTE and GTD shortly, but first the GTI. As mentioned, the recipe for the Golf 8 GTI hasn’t really changed all that much when measured against its predecessor. It still utilises the Volkswagen Group’s EA888 turbo four engine with power routed to the front wheels. The GTI gets 180kW of power and 370Nm of twisting force.
Mated to the 2.0-litre EA888 evo4 lump is something that would cause the hearts of car enthusiast to skip a beat – a manual transmission. Yes, the Golf 8 GTI gets a stick shifter with a golf ball-shaped gear lever as standard with a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox available as an option. That said, when the Golf 8 GTI lands here, we reckon the DSG would be standard fitment.
Volkswagen describes the next GT variant as an endurance athlete which probably wouldn’t come as a surprise considering it’s a diesel. The Golf GTD, as the name suggests, is the oil-burning sibling of the GTI and by no means a new model or a slouch. The GTD packs a 147kW of power along with 400Nm of torque from its 2.0-litre EA288 evo series engine. The fast diesel hatch’s engine will not be mated to the manual gearbox found in the GTI but rather gets the 7-speed DSG as standard.
Volkswagen also goes on to claim that’s the oil burner under bonnet of the Golf 8 GTD is one of the cleanest diesel engines in the world, thanks to the two Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) catalytic converters connected in series. Furthermore, the twin dosing SCR system is complemented by the addition of dual AdBlue injectors which helps reduce the amount of nitrogen oxide emitted out the double tailpipe. No official emissions figures have been released though.
Next up is the Golf GTE, a plug-in hybrid vehicle, which produces the same amount of power as its petrol-fed sibling but with the GTD’s torque figure. The electrified Golf’s powertrain consists of a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine (EA211) with 110 kW paired up to an 85kW electric motor and is fed by a new lithium-ion battery pack. The hybrid module channels power to the front wheels via 6-speed DSG.
The GTE has been significantly updated over the previous generation. The battery pack now holds up to 50 percent more charge at 13kWh. Subsequently, the Golf GTE can be driven up to speeds of 130km/h in pure EV mode and has a range of 60km. Go above that speed and the turbo four mill springs into life and takes over.
Volkswagen claims that they’ve improved the comfort and dynamics of the new fast Golf trio by perfecting a setup which consists of a McPherson front axle and a multi-link rear. A new driving dynamics control system known as the Vehicle Dynamics Manager is used for the first time. The system controls both the Electronic Differential Lock (XDS) and the lateral dynamic components for the dampers.
The Golf 8 is built on the refined, stiffer version of the MK7 ‘s MQB modular transverse platform. That’s said, the all-new Golf is 29mm longer, 10mm narrower and 4mm taller than before but retains the same 2,636mm wheelbase.
On the outside, the designs of the three performance models have been brought into line by a unique front bumper and a roof spoiler along with other exterior kit. While the GTI retains its familiar red styling accents, including for a new illuminated bar running across the front grille, the GTD uses silver and the GTE blue. Each variant sits on 17-inch alloy wheels as standard, however 18 and 19-inch versions are also optionally available. Also, just like the regular Golf, Volkswagen will no longer produce three-door versions of the GTI, GTD and GTE. Shame.
Inside, is it’s plain to see the influence Audi and Porsche has had on Volkswagen's Golf 8 with a far cleaner and more stylised design that is most pronounce on the cascade-style dashboard. Climate control vents are but a sliver that runs across the midline, two large screens measuring 10.25-inch and a 10-inch displays satellite navigation, presents the driver with a virtual instrument cluster and infotainment interface, ambient lighting gently bathes the cabin, and a quirky little nub stands erect where a conventional gear lever used to/should be, if you opt for the DSG.
According to a report by CarAdvice, the Mk8 Golf range is due in Australia in the fourth quarter of 2020, unless factory supply tightens. However, the GTI is not likely to hit Australia until the first quarter of 2021 due to tight supply.