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VW’s Mark 8 Golf to get GTI from launch in Oz

Hot GTI version of Volkswagen Golf 8 likely to be part of Australian launch line-up

25 Oct 2019

VOLKSWAGEN Group Australia has confirmed it hopes to launch hot GTI versions of the eighth-generation Golf at the same time as mainstream models when the much-anticipated redesign of VW’s small-car range arrives here in around 12 months’ time.


Revealed overnight in Germany, the Golf 8’s evolutionary exterior styling belies a substantially overhauled cabin layout and the new model packs plenty of cutting-edge connectivity, active safety and driver-assist technologies.


Although European-delivered Golfs will be offered with a choice of five electrified drivetrains, from 48V mild hybrids to plug-in hybrids capable of up to 60km on electricity alone, Australia will carry over the 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine for mainstream variants while the GTI will soldier on with the existing 2.0-litre turbo unit.


VGA has confirmed the new GTI will still output 180kW and 370Nm and come standard with a limited-slip differential. Although lacking a power boost, the Golf 8’s mooted 50kg weight saving over its predecessor should aid the GTI’s performance.


The even hotter flagship R performance variant is also confirmed to join the range at a later date. As reported, Australia is no longer hamstrung by VW’s ‘hot climate’ engine output restrictions, so even a carry-over drivetrain would bring a meaningful engine output uptick.


A “comprehensive standard safety package” is promised for Golf 8s sold here along with the availability of a head-up display, a 10-inch touchscreen and wireless Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring.


Whether the 1.4-litre engine has received any performance tweaks is yet to be confirmed, but the European Golf 8 press release suggests the most powerful non-GTI petrol engine develops just 81kW compared with the current 110kW unit sold here, while the mild-hybrid eTSI will be available in 110kW guise.


The Golf 8 includes ‘Car2X’ networking technology enabling it to communicate with other similarly equipped vehicles and infrastructure within an 800-metre radius in order to improve safety by anticipating hazards and changing conditions so it can prompt the driver to take action.


In addition, Volkswagen claims an advancement of the Golf’s driver-assist systems enables “assisted driving” at speeds of up to 210km/h “without actively steering, accelerating, or braking” using the car’s claimed segment-first ‘Travel Assist’ function.


Its new digital Innovision Cockpit cabin design incorporates the vast majority of controls – including climate settings – into the touchscreen, supplemented by just two small clusters of hotkeys and the usual array of steering-wheel buttons.


A sparse centre console features only a stubby gear selector and buttons for the park brake and engine start. Ahead of this is a pair of USB-C sockets.


The front air vents are set low, separated from the instruments and the touchscreen by a wood-effect panel that runs like a shelf across the full width of the dashboard.


Similarly, the exterior styling places the slimmer new headlights deeper into the front bumper, the leading edge of the bonnet cascading forward to create the most rounded Golf fascia yet – perhaps a nod to its Beetle heritage – while the lower intake has a simple, horizontally slatted design to complete the minimalist look.


The headlights themselves have an LED daytime running light strip that curls around the main beam unit and are linked by a strikingly slender interpretation of the traditional Golf grille.


From side-on, the familiar high-roof Golf silhouette remains virtually unchanged, as has the nameplate’s signature curved C-pillar, although the new model is distinctly less slab-sided than before as its flanks now have noticeable stepped ‘hips’ below a sharper waistline crease.


At the back, angular new tail-lights with crisp LED graphics are the biggest clue that this is something new, along with a fresh font for the now centrally mounted Golf nameplate that has adorned the back of 35 million Volkswagens since the original was launched 45 years ago.


In July this year, VGA applied driveaway pricing across the Golf range, starting from $24,990 for the manual Trendline 110TSI hatch to $57,990 for the rip-snorting R wagon, to stimulate sales and help make way for the incoming eighth-generation version.


However, sales of the model are down 26.4 per cent to the end of September, with the crossover Alltrack version down 26.8 per cent, and overall Volkswagen volume slumping 11.9 per cent in a broader market that has shrunk 7.9 per cent.


VGA PR and brand experience manager Kurt McGuinness told GoAuto the fact the current Golf was seven years into its life cycle had contributed to slowing sales but said interest in the range-topping R remained strong.


He agreed that the arrival of the Golf-based T-Roc and Polo-derived T-Cross SUVs in the second quarter of next year could prevent the Golf 8 from replicating the popularity of its predecessors.


“We do absolutely expect those cars to be our most popular,” said Mr McGuinness. “Having these full-time small SUV models is expected to do pretty big things for us.”


“T-Roc and T-Cross are pretty significant cars for us as it’s such a huge sector in Australia and an area where we haven’t really been represented in before.”

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