Volkswagen will launch a new high-performance VW Golf GTI soon after its standard flagship hatchback, company sources have revealed.

It should arrive in showrooms in spring 2009, but we may get a sneak preview of the new GTI as soon as October, when a concept is tipped to be unveiled.

The new Volkswagen Golf GTI will keep the current car’s well-judged balance of ride, handling and refinement, although an extra edge will be added to improve steering and handling. This will help close the gap with the sporty new Scirocco, which makes today’s GTI feel a little soft.>> Read the technical story on the VW Golf Mk6>> See exclusive pics of the VW Golf Mk6

Power will come from a 211bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre version of the group’s new global EA888 engine, equipped with the new valve-lift system developed by Audi.

Volkswagen is keen to make maintenance easier, and access to the turbo and oil cooler will be improved in a bid to cut servicing costs.

The VW GTI will get beefed-up looks too. It will have new bumpers front and rear, as well as different head and tail-lights. The headlights will have Audi-style LED running lights. Five-spoke 18in alloys will be standard, with 19in items on the options list.

The bad news for six-cylinder Golf fans is that there are no plans to replace the current R32 version, mainly because of EU emissions legislation.

Instead, VW plans to launch a four-wheel-drive R variant with a 265bhp version of the GTI engine.

Greg Kable