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What You Need to Know – 2022 VW Golf GTI Mk VIII

Chris Kaiser

The next generation of Golf GTI is already out in Europe and the stage is set for a US debut in 2021. Here’s all the updates and optimizations coming to the GTI Mk VIII.

Mark My Words, It’s Fast

The Golf is dead. Long live the Golf … GTI. Though Volkswagen has dropped the regular Golf from its American showrooms for 2021, the Golf GTI (and the Golf R) will remain, with new generations slated for next year.

The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk VIII - volkswagen-newsroom.com

The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk VIII – volkswagen-newsroom.com  |  Shop Volkswagen Golf GTI on Carsforsale.com

The hotly anticipated next generation of Volkswagen’s classic hot hatch is already on sale in Europe, but we in the US will have to wait until next year to see the GTI Mk VIII on our shores. VW claims significant improvements to the GTI’s lap time, faster by 3.9 seconds from the Mk VII. And there are indeed a lot of tweaks, small and large, that play a part in making the Mk VIII equal parts swift and stylish.

Exterior – Keep Up With the Joneses

The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk VIII - volkswagen-newsroom.com
The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk VIII - volkswagen-newsroom.com

The most noticeable change to the exterior of the GTI is the addition of a big new, honeycomb grille. Big grilles are to automotive design of the 2020s what chrome was to the 1950s, you just can’t be considered modern and fashionable without it. And so, the Golf GTI Mk VIII does its best to look current, and to be honest, it wears it well. The new LED daytime running lights add a nice extra bit of flair.

The other upgrade from the Mk VII are the new standard 17-inch alloy wheels. There will also be options for 18-inch and, new for the GTI, 19-inch wheels available. Headlights and taillights have also received a new, sleeker look. Plus, the turn signals have some added pop with the addition of a “cascade” effect. GTI badging and red accenting round out the package and hearken back to the legacy of this storied hatchback.

Specs – It’s Not Always About Horsepower

The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk VIII 2.0L turbocharged I4 engine - volkswagen-newsroom.com
The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk VIII 2.0L turbocharged I4 engine - volkswagen-newsroom.com

Minor cosmetic updates aside, the real story for the Mk VIII are the performance upgrades. The engine is a 2.0L turbocharged I-4 making 242hp and 273lb.-ft. of torque. That’s the same as the outgoing performance pack version of the GTI. There are options for either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 7-speed dual clutch automatic (with paddle shifters). Front-wheel drive continues to be standard. The real performance news, however, are all the changes beyond the powertrain.

The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk VIII - volkswagen-newsroom.com
The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk VIII - volkswagen-newsroom.com

The Golf GTI Mk VIII received a new aluminum subframe, making it both lighter and stiffer than the Mk VII. The suspension is also tuned to be stiffer than the prior generation. Five percent stiffer up front and a full fifteen percent stiffer in the rear. That’s not all though, there are also new adaptive dampers, new bump stops, new springs, and new control arm bushings. Plus, there’s a new electronic limited-split differential to further reduce understeer.

The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk VIII - volkswagen-newsroom.com
The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk VIII - volkswagen-newsroom.com

Five drive modes include Eco, Comfort, Sport, Snow, and Individual. That last one includes 15 different suspension configurations to choose from.

Interior – “Going Plaid” Long Before Tesla

The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk VIII dash and infotainment - volkswagen-newsroom.com
The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk VIII dash and infotainment - volkswagen-newsroom.com

Clearly some cost compromises have been made with the interior of the GTI Mk VIII, as is evidenced by the housing of HVAC and audio controls in the infotainment screen. It’s a rare sour note in an otherwise exciting car. Still, there’s a lot to like inside the Golf GTI Mk VIII.

The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk VIII interior - volkswagen-newsroom.com
The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk VIII interior - volkswagen-newsroom.com

First among them are the now standard sport seats and their plaid patterning. These are “upgradable” to leather seats, but who wants to lose that tartan styling? There’s also a new steering wheel, with heating coming standard. A new ten-inch digital gauge cluster adorns the dash and pairs with a standard eight-inch infotainment screen (upgradeable to a ten-inch screen). A new heads-up display, a Harmon Kardon audio system, and 30-color ambient lighting will all also be on tap.

The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk VIII - volkswagen-newsroom.com
The new Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk VIII - volkswagen-newsroom.com

The Golf GTI MkVIII is slated for release in the US sometime next fall.

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Chris Kaiser
Chris Kaiser

Chris’ greatest passions include topiary, spelunking, and pushing aging compact cars well past 200,000 miles on cross-country road trips. His taste in cars runs from the classic and esoteric to the deeply practical with an abiding affection for VW Things, old Studebakers, and all things hybrid-crossover.

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