These are the best pictures yet of Volkswagen’s iconic Golf GTI – we've caught the sixth-generation performance hotshoe undertaking final hot weather testing before its public debut at the 2008 Paris motor show on 2 October 2008.
Peel away that black masking and the car’s chunky new lines, fat bumpers, lowered ride height and goatee grille can easily be seen. Perhaps this is the new Golf that will finally get us interested after a lukewarm reception to the Mk6 Golf family hatch range.
We can also make out the Golf GTI's new exhaust layout – the new hot hatch is thought to ditch today's 2.0-litre blown engine for a brand new Audi-sourced turbo unit that is said to be cleaner, punchier and more economical.
Sounds good, but please tell me the VW Golf GTI's power hasn't taken a hit as a result…
The news is all good. The forced induction Audi-developed engine, which features a valve-lift system on the intake camshaft, as well as direct injection, is said to develop 208bhp at 4300-6000rpm – around 10bhp more than the current car, and developed lower down the rev range.
However, it’s the GTI's torque that improves the most – up from 207lb ft at 1800-5000rpm to a hefty 258lb ft that kicks in at 1500rpm and doesn't tail off until 4200rpm.
Hooked up to a seamless seven-speed DSG box, the GTI should whip to 60mph in 6.5 seconds and be electronically reigned in at 155mph, return close to 40mpg and post a sub-150g/km CO2 rating (current GTI – 6.9sec, 145mpg, 35.8mpg, 188g/km). Which makes it a pretty damn impressive engine in our opinion.
What else is new on the 'new' Golf GTI?
Expect the bulk of the current GTI’s architecture – suspension, brakes and steering – to be carried over from the current GTI. There's no word on pricing yet, but VW is claiming its newest Golf won’t be significantly more expensive than the outgoing model – which hints at a very attractive £21,000 or thereabouts.
Oh, and there’ll also be a turbocharged diesel GTD version on the way, powered by the company’s new – and very smooth – 170bhp 2.0-litre common rail engine. A hot hatch for the Noughties, if ever we heard of one.
Click ‘Next’ for more details on an even hotter Golf – and the rest of the range’s engine line-up…
So is the GTI the hot Golf to go for then?
Well, if you want more power, there’s the new Golf R20T due late next year. The R20T replaces the heavy and not-that-much-faster-than-the-GTI R32. Like the GTI, and as its name suggests, it will opt for a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot, but will retain its all-wheel drivetrain.
The engine comes from the Audi TTS and S3, but to keep Ingolstadt happy its power will be fractionally dialled back to around 265bhp so that it doesn't compromise the S3’s performance status. Sources say prices should start at around £26,000.
Anything else we should know about the new Golf’s engines?
Lots. For a start, approach the initial powerplant line-up with caution because it will change dramatically within the first 12 months of the new Golf going on sale this autumn. The entry-level 80bhp 1.4 will be replaced by a sparkling new 86bhp 1.2-litre TSI unit in September 2009. Around the same time, the ageing 2.0 SDI and 1.9 TDI units will be replaced by new 1.6-litre common-rail units developing 90 and 105bhp.
Ultra-green Bluemotion variants will arrive in summer 2009 – the Golf Bluemotion 1.6 TDI emits only 99g CO2/km, while the Bluemotion 1.2 TSI is pegged at 109g CO2/ km.
A year later VW will unveil its Bluemotion II, an even cleaner and greener concept which features a start-stop system, brake energy recuperation and the electrification of the auxiliary equipment.
And hybrid Golfs?
Instead of a plug-in hybrid Golf, VW is favouring the so-called Twin Drive application, which combines a frugal three-cylinder petrol or diesel engine with an electric motor, providing an aggregate power output of up to 180bhp but with ultra-low CO2 levels – and plenty of anticipated tax breaks.
Click 'Next' below to read about future VW Golf variants
How does the Golf VI affect its spin-off models?
The new Golf Plus will make its debut at the Bologna motor show in December 2008. It will be quickly followed by the revised Golf Variant (estate to you and me), which in turn will be followed by the facelifted Touran in July 2009.
But the proposed VW Golf cabriolet is now on hold, despite the design being signed off, and production scheduled for 2010. Slow demand for the A3 cabrio – which would have shared the roof with the VW – and too much internal competition with the Eos have caused the accountants to wave the red flag. That, and the fact the its arrival would come just two years before the Golf MkVII bows in.
What about the Beetle and Tiguan?
The second-edition Beetle, due in 2011, and the next iterations of the Tiguan (short and long-wheelbase models) will stay on the familiar Golf V/VI platform (PQ35 in VW speak), but the new Jetta will not. It will not even get the widely rumoured cosmetic update – instead, the four-door saloon will be replaced by a brand-new car in late 2010.
Primarily aimed at North America, China and India, the follow-up to the Jetta uses a re-engineered low-cost component set (known internally as VW311) which allows for a hefty 75mm wheelbase stretch to provide more legroom as well as more badge credibility.
But make no mistake, it will be a rebodied Golf V and not a forerunner to the Golf VII.
What do you think of VW's future Golf plans? Can the Golf GTI stay at the top of the performance tree? Click 'Add your comment' below and have your say