While there are already two performance variants of the current, seventh-generation Golf — the 210-hp, front-wheel-drive Golf GTI (220 hp with the optional performance pack) and the 292-hp, all-wheel-drive Golf R — Volkswagen wants to add a third hot hatch to its lineup when the eighth-generation Golf comes out in three years’ time. Sources say we’ll see a 300-hp Golf GTI, a 350-hp Golf R, and a 400-hp Golf RS.
The march toward this performance Golf trio could start as early as next year when Volkswagen will likely release a one-off, 400-hp GTI that picks up the red thread Wolfsburg started spinning at the Wörthersee festival with the Clubsport concept. We’ll likely keep marching until early 2019, when we expect the eight-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI (seen here in our renderings) to debut. When it does, it won’t be a completely new car but an evolution of the existing GTI. (Even its architecture is internally known as MQB evo.) The front-wheel-drive-only car will be between 50 and 100 pounds lighter than the current GTI, and its main upgrades will focus on the drivetrain and electronics.
As of now, only one engine has been approved for the eighth GTI: a 300-hp, 2.0-liter turbo-four. (In other words, the current Golf R engine.) But other powertrain options are still on the table. One of those is a 300-hp, narrow-angle V-6 engine displacing either 2.5 or 3.0 liters that could be a comfort- and torque-oriented alternative for the U.S., which is neither sensitive to displacement nor consumption. The new GTI could also become a high-output hybrid or an emission-free EV with two motors — one 170 hp, one 95 hp — but those are questionable at best.
Assuming the Volkswagen Golf GTI gets a 300-hp inline-four engine, it’ll have a standard six-speed manual transmission bolted to it. Available options will include a dual-clutch automatic transmission, adaptive suspension dampers, bigger brakes, a pair of rather brash aerodynamic aids, and an electronic limited-slip differential. The lower and wider GTI will sit on a longer wheelbase and have a more rakish windscreen, a taller beltline, and shorter overhangs. Familiar styling cues, such as the wide C-pillars and characteristic cutlines, will be accented by fresh touches including LED headlights, a special body kit, and a half-dozen extra-cost cameras to monitor traffic and facilitate maneuvering in tight spaces. As far as the interior is concerned, the cockpit of the Golf concept recently shown at the CES in Las Vegas provides plenty of hints, and we fully expect familiar cues such as the red-and-black stripe work, the golf-ball shift knob, and the tartan plaid upholstery to stick around.
There will also be a much wider array of extra-cost safety systems and electronic nannies, as well as improved infotainment with seriously upgraded connectivity. An optional fully digital instrument panel will likely feature navigation and a head-up display. On the center console, a large touchscreen monitor should mix voice and gesture control, provide access to mobile Internet, and have extended connectivity via MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.
The forthcoming Golf R and Golf RS likely won’t debut until after the eight-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI, and since the GTI is still a good bit off, it’s not surprising we haven’t heard a whole lot about these all-wheel-drive hot hatches. What we do know is that while both will have turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engines, they will both get two turbochargers instead of one, and the RS will get an instant-torque electronic boost system on top of that.