Meet the Mk8: Volkswagen Launches Next GTI, Golf R at 2021 Chicago Auto Show

meet the mk8 volkswagen launches next gti golf r at 2021 chicago auto show

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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4 of 42 comments
  • V16 V16 on Jul 14, 2021

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

    • See 1 previous
    • Lichtronamo Lichtronamo on Jul 14, 2021

      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.

  • Stuki Stuki on Jul 15, 2021

    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.

  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.
  • Inside Looking Out Why not buy Bronco and call it Defender? Who will notice?