The all new, Mk7 Volkswagen Golf GTI has been spied undergoing final testing before an expected showroom launch early next year. The all-important GTI is rumoured to be powered by a 260bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine and will get the firm’s new VAQ front differential for “more agile steering behaviour”. 

Insiders say this VAQ unit, which consists of an electronically controlled Haldex clutch of the kind usually found in four-wheel drive systems, would allow the new car to lap the Nürburgring faster than today’s GTI even if it didn’t have any extra power.

VW bosses have already revealed that they are working on a lightweight version of the Mk7 Golf structure with aluminium floor pressings and an aluminium roof, and this is expected to be used as a base for the GTI.

However, the more potent Golf R is expected to get a super-light carbonfibre roof. VW engineers have come up with a way of incorporating steel flanges into the panel, allowing it to be welded to the car’s steel side structure.

The Mk7 Golf is the second model — after the Audi A3 — to be based on the VW Group’s new MQB architecture. It will be unveiled at the Paris show in September before reaching showrooms early next year.

Although the car is heavily disguised in these pictures, the Golf’s signature wide C-pillars are visible. However, the front-end styling looks less bluff, with low-mounted headlights sitting below raised wings.