The latest VW Golf GTI, which is due to make its debut next week at the Paris motor show, uses the reskinned Golf's wide, shallow upper grille to underpin the front of the hot hatch with a dominant, road-eating lower grille.
"The effect is to visually widen the GTI to make it look much more aggressive and sporty," said exterior design chief Mark Lichte.
The aggressive styling of the new Volkswagen Golf GTI will become the family look for the next generation of GTI-badged Volkswagens.
This combination of design elements will become a consistent feature of all future GTI models, such as the Polo. "I'm not saying there will be a Scirocco GTI," explained Lichte, "but if there is, it would have the same graphic treatment."
The visual emphasis on the base of the front bumper changes the stance of the sixth-generation GTI, claims Lichte. To reinforce this, the foglamps have been repositioned at the extremes of the lower grille. "On the old car the fogs were about 150mm in from the headlamps; now they're outboard," he said.
Volkswagen believes that the Mk5 Golf GTI appeared taller than it was because of the front grille and dumpy, three-piece lower intake. But whether such changes are sufficient to distinguish the Mk6 GTI from the Mk5 remains to be seen.
New alloy wheels would have helped, but VW has decided to continue with the current five-hole alloys, adding a minor tweak. Instead of being finished with grey paint, they've got gloss black inside the holes.
A strong plus point is the Mk6's higher-quality interior. The Golf GTI builds on this with the extensive use of Audi-style illuminated switchgear and backlighting. Other parts such as the seats and steering wheel are carried over, but modified.
The flat-bottomed wheel is retrimmed with a different leather, while the seats get tweaks to the cushioning and trim material.
Other details that VW has worked on include the exhaust pipes. These have moved to the far left and right of the rear bumper moulding. "Large, single exhaust pipes positioned at the edges of the rear bumper will be a GTI feature in future," said Lichte.
A key aim has been to beef up the Golf shape without a body kit or spoilers. "We're really proud of the clean, simple shapes. We don't want unnecessary add-ons that increase weight."
When it goes on sale next spring, the new GTI will be powered by a version of the EA888 2.0-litre turbo engine used in the Edition 30 version of the Mk5 GTI, with 207bhp and 206lb ft of torque. In its latest guise the GTI covers the 0-62mph dash in 7.2sec and goes on to 149mph.
The Mk6 GTI will also benefit from DCC adaptive damping and VW's XDS electronic differential.A 265bhp, four-wheel-drive R version is expected later to replace the V6 R32.