Finally: this is the Mk8 Volkswagen Golf GTI | Top Gear
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Friday 31st March
Geneva Motor Show 2020

Finally: this is the Mk8 Volkswagen Golf GTI

New GTI is joined at Geneva by diesel GTD and plug-in GTE

Published: 26 Feb 2020

Typical – you wait years for a new, fast Golf, then three come along all at once. Ok so spoiler alert, none is revolutionary or the teensiest bit surprising, but we’re glad they’re back all the same. And you should be too. VW certainly is – the GTI, GTE and GTD are set to account for more than 15 per cent of all Golf sales in Europe.

Star of next week’s Geneva Motor Show, for VW anyway, will undoubtedly be the Golf GTI. After all, the other two probably wouldn’t exist without it. Like its predecessor you get a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine making 242bhp and 273lb ft – we expect 0-62mph in the low sixes, and a top speed north of 150mph. Drive is sent only to the front-axle, wait for the 300bhp-plus Golf R for all-wheel drive, via either a six-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed DSG.

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The GTD and GTE’s powertrains are more interesting on a technical level. The former has one of the cleanest diesel engines in the world, or so says VW – a 2.0-litre turbodiesel that uses twin-dosing to cut nitrogen emissions. It’s had a power bump too, from 181bhp to 197bhp, and is only available with the DSG.

Meanwhile the GTE, which is also more powerful than before, has the same 242bhp as the GTI (more torque, though – 295lb ft), only it makes said power very differently. 148bhp comes from a 1.4-litre petrol engine, and the rest from an electric motor that draws power from a 50 per cent bigger 13kWh battery. A six-speed DSG meshes everything together and sends power forwards. EV-range is said to be around 37 miles thanks to improved aero, as well as that bigger battery.

The GTE may be as powerful as the GTI, but no doubt the batteries and other hybrid gubbins add performance-blunting kilos – the old 201bhp Mk7 GTE was 200kg heavier than the equivalent GTI. That said, we’re promised “significantly sharpened driving dynamics” from all three cars, thanks to revised suspension and more intelligent, optional DCC.

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Looks? Same for all three cars bar different colour schemes for GTI, GTD and GTE. GTIs get a red stripe in the grille, as is traditional, while the GTD gets a silver highlight and the GTE blue. They all get those natty five-piece LED daytime running lights, and can be spec’ed with a full-width light bar connecting the headlights. The GTI gets twin exhausts – one pipe each side – the GTD gets a single, twin-exit exhaust while the GTE has no visible exhausts at all. It’s all very discrete, very VW, very GTI.

Inside you’ll find a dashboard largely bereft of buttons – most functions are taken care of via the central touchscreen, and what ‘buttons’ remain are mainly touch-sensitive rather than ones you, y’know, press. GTI, E and D-specific features include chequered upholstery, a sports steering wheel and, ah yes, in the manual GTI, a golf ball-shaped gear lever.

Which one’s your favourite?

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