The new Volkswagen Golf GTI holds few surprises, and that’s a very good thing. This model is so well defined that it doesn’t need reinventing with every generation; it simply needs renewing. There wasn’t much wrong with the seventh-generation version, so Volkswagen didn’t mess with the formula.
A tuned performance engine? Check. Classic front-drive layout? Check. Subtle but distinctly restyled bodywork? Check. Red GTI badging and flourishes? Check. Golf ball-styled gearstick? Check. Tartan sheets? Special seat fabric? Not check: it's tartan, of course.
Everything is as you'd expect it to be for a Golf GTI – and while such predictability doesn't sound too exciting, we'll be happy if the eighth-generation Golf GTI maintains the capabilities, performance and all-round usability of its predecessor. Of course, it does raise the question of what VW haven't added by not messing with a proven formula.
For starters, there's no electrified powertrain. Fitting a 48V mild-hybrid system may be bang on trend - and is being done to standard Golf models – but Volkswagen believes it wouldn't add anything to the GTI formula, because such systems only boost fuel economy and low-speed performance. So Volkswagen didn’t do so. To its enormous credit, it has made the GTI that GTI fans want. Brilliant.