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

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
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.

  • Sayahh Is it 1974 or 1794? The article is inconsistent.
  • Laura I just buy a Hyndai Elantra SEL, and My car started to have issues with the AC dont work the air sometimes is really hot and later cold and also I heard a noice in the engine so I went to the dealer for the first service and explain what was hapenning to the AC they told me that the car was getting hot because the vent is not working I didnt know that the car was getting hot because it doesnt show nothing no sign no beep nothing I was surprise and also I notice that it needed engine oil, I think that something is wrong with this car because is a model 23 and I just got it on April only 5 months use. is this normal ? Also my daughter bought the same model and she went for a trip and the car also got hot and it didnt show up in the system she called them and they said to take the car to the dealer for a check up I think that if the cars are new they shouldnt be having this problems.
  • JamesGarfield What charging network does the Polestar use?
  • JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
  • Stuki Moi What Subaru taketh away in costs, dealers will no doubt add right back in adjustments.... Fat chance Subaru will offer a sufficient supply of them.