2021 Golf GTI Mk8 Looks Great and Gets a Horsepower Bump

by Paul Strauss
2021 Golf GTI Mk8 Looks Great and Gets a Horsepower Bumpzoom in

It’s hard to believe, but the Volkswagen Golf GTI has been continuously in production since 1975, with more than 2.3 million cars made since it debuted. Now, the hot hatch is about to see its eighth generation for the 2021 model year, and the new version is looking better than ever.

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The 2021 Golf GTI starts out with the same, modernized platform and body design that came to the standard Golf last year, riding lower and longer than the Mk7. In GTI form, it gets drag-reducing mirrors, rounded out corners, underbody panels, optimized wheelarch linings, and a special roof spoiler, all aimed at improving aerodynamics.

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But it’s what’s under the hood that sees the biggest upgrade, with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that now makes 242 horsepower and 273 lb-ft. of torque. That represents an increase of 14 hp and 15 lb-ft. compared to the outgoing engine. Drivers can opt for a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. With the engine and aerodynamic upgrades, I’d expect to see the new GTI get to 60 mph a couple of tenths faster than the prior model, which clocked in at 5.7 seconds.

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Of course, straight line speed isn’t the main reason you buy a Golf GTI. These cars excel on the autocross circuit thanks to their exceptional handling. For the Mk8, you can expect some upgrades in that department as well. A new aluminum subframe up front reduces the weight of the suspension by about 7 percent, while the front and rear axle spring rates have been increased to stiffen things up and create an even sharper handling dynamic. A torque-sensing electronic limited-slip differential is also standard, and adaptive damping is an option as well.

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Volkswagen has yet to announce pricing or to confirm when the Mk8 Golf GTI will land at dealerships.

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