By on July 14, 2021

Volkswagen

Volkswagen’s base Golf may be dead, at least in America, but the performance-oriented GTI and Golf R are on their way to pick up the slack.

The 2022 Volkswagen GTI and Golf R have been unveiled in the flesh (or sheetmetal, as it were) at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show.

The Mk8 cars look promising on paper. The GTI is priced from $29,545 and comes in S, SE, and Autobahn trims while the Golf R will be available in just one trim — one that VW claims is “fully loaded” — and start at $43,645.

Both cars use a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder, and it makes 241 horsepower (an increase of 13) and 273 lb-ft of torque in the GTI, when run on premium fuel. The Golf R has 315 horsepower, an increase of 27, and 295 lb-ft of torque (280 with the standard manual transmission). Both cars are available with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed DSG automatic. All-wheel drive remains standard on the Golf R.

Volkswagen

The cars are slightly longer than before, with sharper hood raking, LED headlights, and an available light bar for the grille. The GTI gets X-shaped fog lamps and new wheel designs, a red grille line, red brake calipers, and dual exhaust tips. Plaid seats remain standard, and the manual transmission’s shift knob remains golf-ball style.

VW GTI. Tim Healey/TTAC

The Golf R gets a blue grille line and blue brake calipers, a new wheel design, front and rear bumpers and diffusers that are more aggressive than that of the GTI, a two-piece rear spoiler, body-colored side sill extensions, and a quad-tipped exhaust system.

Although each car gains a bit in length, wheelbases remain the same as before for each.

Volkwswagen

Adaptive damping is available, and the GTI is standard with an electronically controlled limited-slip differential. VW claims its system can vary intervention to avoid “steering corruption” (read: Torque steer) and can also work to reduce understeer.

VW Golf R. Tim Healey/TTAC

The Golf R gets rear-axle torque vectoring, and the car’s rear differential has dual multi-plate clutches as part of a system that can distribute 100 percent of the rear torque to either individual rear wheel. Distributing power to the outer rear wheel while cornering can reduce the cornering radius.

Inside, a digital cockpit is standard, and some of the controls are operated via “touch panels” (we believe this is PR-speak for haptic touch). If you opt for navigation, the map can be displayed in the cluster. Available features include navigation, infotainment, sunroof, and head-up display.

Volkswagen

Driver-assistance tech includes the ability for semi-autonomous driving using radar, ultrasound sensors, and cameras. Other driver-assistance tech includes travel assist (semi-automated driving assist), front assist (forward-collision warning and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist monitoring), blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, rear-traffic alert, lane assist (lane-keeping assist), emergency assist, high-beam assist, park assist with park-distance control, adaptive front lighting, and road-sign display.

VW Golf R. Tim Healey/TTAC

Other available features on GTI include push-button start, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, USB ports, keyless entry, leather seats, satellite radio, heated front seats, cooled front seats, heated rear seats, premium audio, tri-zone climate control, and 18- or 19-inch wheels.

Volkswagen

Available features on the Golf R not already mentioned include cross-drilled brake rotors, sunroof, keyless entry and starting, stop/start, heated steering wheel, leather seats, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, tri-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, premium audio, navigation, satellite radio, wireless device charging, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

The Mk8 cars arrive in the fourth quarter of this year.

[Images © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC, Volkswagen]

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42 Comments on “Meet the Mk8: Volkswagen Launches Next GTI, Golf R at 2021 Chicago Auto Show...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Any pics of the models from the show floor?

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Another push button shifter…

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Pretty sure I see three pedals and a stick there cool guy.

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        And thank God for another automaker that is giving us a stick. These engines have so much grunt down low and they were made to have a stick.

        Personally I don’t mind a push button shifter. Is it a gimmick? Yup. Does it save **that** much room? Probably not. But the fun is to be had with the paddles w/ the DSG, so once D or S is selected, it’s out of sight, out of mind.

        I’m more bummed at VW getting rid of most hard controls compared to current models…

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          theflyersfan

          I drive only MT, so this is just bitch time for me. Still, I hate this button shifter even when I imagine myself driving. After all, one of my 4 cars is auto and it had a shifter I like.

          For the hard controls part – totally agree. In my mind, more buttons car has, more sophisticated it is.
          I will keep my old cars for as long as I can. I don’t want any of these new setups.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        4th pic from the top

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          Keep scrolling down and count the pedals. This ain’t “Where’s Waldo”. If you don’t like the auto, get the manual. I’m sure it’ll drive better than an old Mazda.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            I like this Nazi car. But I will never pay Germans a penny for it. It is kinda, I admire your Tiger tank, but let me blow it. You’re the enemy.
            I said this before, if they would rename this company from the start, to dissociate from the Nazis that created it, I would consider.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @slavuta: How about “I like Koenigsegg, but wouldn’t pay Scandinavians a penny for it. It is kinda, I admire your Viking ship, but let me blow it, you’re the enemy. Disassociate from the Vikings that created it…”

            World War II started 82 years ago. An 18-year-old soldier at the start would be 100 years old now. DOn’t forget, Toyota made trucks for the Imperial Japanese Army. Nakajima/Subaru made aircraft along with Mitsubishi, and Nissan. BMW made aircraft engines and Mercedes made vehicles as well. Stellantis’ Opel made trucks too.

            Actually, Volkswagen was started out of the ruins of KDF and the Beetle was based on the “Volks auto” KDF-Wagen. VW was started as a back-to-work project by the British.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The sunroof option is for Corey.

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    Is it just the photo trickery at play, or does this car look really wide? Especially in the third photo (red, on the show floor).

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      It can be relatively difficult to take good pictures at an auto show, especially if there are crowds around. But some general (and relatively easy) guidelines:

      a) Put the camera at a level which would be eye-to-eye with the driver of the vehicle if the vehicle had a driver. [People make this mistake photographing kids *all* the time – the ‘my kid as viewed from space’ look – get down on their level.]

      b) Back up from the vehicle [maybe 15-20 feet if crowd conditions allow] and zoom in some (maybe “2X” if using your phone). This makes the proportions of the vehicle look *much* better, and also cuts a lot of clutter out of the background.

      Note that the ‘official’ Volkswagen exterior shots (first, second and last pictures currently posted above) sort of follow the first guideline [eye level with driver] but don’t really follow the second [distance/zoom]. They wanted to show a wider field of view to capture more of the landscape, but this combined with limitations of the ‘chase vehicle’ means that the proportions of the vehicle are off.

      Like the kid here (his nose gets distorted like the corner of the car gets distorted):
      https://www.ablphotography.co.uk/many-people-hate-photographs/

  • avatar
    dal20402

    As always with GTIs, these look very tempting on paper and in pictures, but I suspect strongly that I would actually enjoy the ownership experience of a Civic Si more.

    • 0 avatar
      Urlik

      While you may enjoy the entire ownership experience more with a Civic, you would enjoy driving the GTI more. There is a reason the Golfs keeping making Car & Driver’s top 10.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I have no doubt it would be a lot of fun to drive when it is working, although I suspect the Si will be too.

        • 0 avatar
          Urlik

          I’ve been in Golfs since 08 and never been stranded or even had a big dollar repair. They’ve been comparable to a previous Accord.

          • 0 avatar
            VWGolfGuy

            My experience is the same. Only annoyance would be media blasting carbon off the valves. Current mk7 is at 178,000 miles with no repairs beyond normal maintenance items. Can hardly wait for mk8 to arrive dealers so VW can take my money .

    • 0 avatar
      Lichtronamo

      I have had a Mk6, Mk7, and now Mk7.5. All have been the most trouble free cars I have owned. Each has been a fantastic drive, and each new one better than the last. Looking forward to the Mk8.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The front end styling (jutting bumper, angled logo, circley lower grille and bling lights) and overall proportions (looks tall and wide) seem off-putting.

    Maybe it looks better in person.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Hmmm. What to buy? BMW X3, X5, or loaded Type R?

  • avatar
    EX35

    Gonna need that 6yr B2B warranty again for me to get anywhere near one of these.

  • avatar
    VWGolfGuy

    My experience is the same. Only annoyance would be media blasting carbon off the valves. Current mk7 is at 178,000 miles with no repairs beyond normal maintenance items. Can hardly wait for mk8 to arrive dealers so VW can take my money .

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “Only annoyance would be media blasting carbon off the valves.”

      Drive more than 4000 miles/year, and that isn’t a problem on modern engines.

      Don’t invent trouble where it doesn’t exist.

  • avatar

    Sadly, the USDM won’t get the adaptive headlights, just the dumb automated high/low. Otherwise looks fun…

  • avatar
    V16

    Does Volkswagen even consider an interior color option outside of GRAY?

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      Beige leatherette with light dash in multiple models, the bound to get dirty and never get clean again white interior of the ID.4 First Edition, and black in the current GLI, GTI, and R.

      If anything, the Japanese and Koreans fall more into the monotone dark interiors more than the Germans.

    • 0 avatar
      Lichtronamo

      The plaid cloth interior looks similar to current. But the leather has lighter gray on the outside of the seat surfaces. The side/back also has a red accent. Not sure I like this or the fixed headrests. Do like the new steering wheel, which is more like the Mk6.

  • avatar
    stuki

    GTIs are sweet. Doubly so when almost everyone else are abandoning proper transmissions. Sis are sweet as well, but hatch vs sedan probably determines which one people prefer. Veloster Ns, Type Rs and Golf Rs are all a bit differently packaged and targeted.

    I simply do not understand who thinks touch sensitive controls on surfaces which shake and move a bit, is a good idea, though.

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