This is important, because as of now this new Golf will only be available in GTI and R flavors in America as we continue to thumb our noses at small cars as basic transportation tools. The new GTI shares all its base styling cues the base car, which gets a little meaner this decade with a lowered and flattened fascia and sharper lighting to accompany its classic two-box shape. Taking it further, the GTI is now offset from the base model with a large, honeycomb-laced air intake under the grille that houses optional X-shaped fog lights. Unless you’re afflicted with trypophobia, it’s a cool look.
VW’s taken further steps to make the GTI feel upmarket, adding flourishes like 30-color ambient lighting and its Innovision Cockpit interface—that’s a pair of 10-inch screens for the instrument panel and infotainment.You can choose your own adventure with the transmission, but the 2021 Golf GTI’s engine will always be an EA888 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder…if you live in America.
In Europe, the GTI is just one of three prongs of a trident, joined by the GTE plug-in hybrid and the GTD long-range diesel. The lack of a diesel over here makes sense, but the GTE is one we’ll miss, with nearly identical power figures from a 1.4-liter four tied to an 85 kW electric motor. Add in a 37-mile electric only range, a top speed of 81 mph without burning any gas, and a six-speed dual-clutch to swap cogs when you do, the GTE looks like an intriguing choice.
The 2021 GTI’s motor is rated at 245 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque in its European spec; American figures aren’t available yet, but there won’t be a significant deviation from those numbers, which are up 17 hp and 15 lb-ft from the outgoing Golf GTI. There’s one more parlor trick to share, a centralized chassis/suspension controller called DCC. It reads like a toned-down version of Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, combining incoming streams of data from the accelerator, brake pedal, and steering to help manage the adaptive dampers and further differentiate the four driving mode experiences. Add in a brake-based system up front to mimic a limited-slip differential, and the GTI should remain a hell of a good time.
We don’t have any performance stats for the 2021 VW Golf GTI yet, other than that Volkswagen’s Travel Assist aid (a system combining adaptive cruise control and lane-keep help) can function at up to 130 mph. We’ll bring you more details on the American version as they’re announced later this year, but in the meantime, enjoy the fact that some things in life do stay mostly the same.