The next-generation GTI arrives in 2019

The seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI may still be the most popular hot-hatchback out there, but it’s getting a bit long in the tooth after more than four years on the market. With Ford already working on a new-generation Focus ST, which will be significantly more powerful than the current Golf GTI, Volkswagen needs to roll out a new hatchback really soon. Fortunately, the Germans are already testing the next-generation Golf GTI, which is rumored to break cover sometime in 2019.

Not much is known about the upcoming performance hatchback, but it should borrow many design features seen on recently introduced Volkswagen models, including the sporty Arteon sedan. The company also promises a revolution inside the cabin, including a "total digital environment," according to design chief Klaus Bischoff. Set to use a revised version of the company’s MQB platform, it will also a new engine with power ratings of up to 250 horsepower. Let’s find out more about that in the speculative review below.

Updated 12/30/2019: The 2021 Volkswagen Golf MK8 GTI was caught doing some cold-weather testing with next to no camo and zero padding. Check out the new images and the latest details in our spy shots section below!

Spy Shots

December 30,2019 – Volkswagen Golf MK8 GTI Playing in Snow

2020 Volkswagen Golf Mk8 GTI Exterior Spyshots
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It’s been a while since we’ve seen the Mk8 Golf GTI, but now we get to see a near-production prototype as it goes through what we believe is the final phase of testing before it debuts and shifts into production. The new muscular hood is fully exposed as are the near headlights and most of the front fascia. The larger corner air intakes are hidden with black tape, but if you look close enough, you can make out their print behind the tape.

2020 Volkswagen Golf Mk8 GTI Exterior Spyshots
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The side profile is exactly what you would expect, and there are no major changes outside of the wider side skirts that will give the GTI a slightly more aggressive look. This prototype is wearing the standard Golf wheels, but we already know the GTI will feature black, dual-five-spoke wheels as we saw those on the last prototype (look down and the last sighting.) The rear end is pretty much the same story as before, however, we can now see the full production tailights and the larger exhaust pipes with the official lower fascia insert. It actually looks quite sporty from this view.

As far as power output goes, we’re expecting around 300 horsepower since the current GTI TCR delivers around 290. However, we’ll have to wait and see what happens now that VW has that awesome mild-hybrid system that is capable of delivering a considerable performance increase.

July 8, 2019 – Volkswagen Golf Mk. 8 Testing on German Streets

2020 Volkswagen Golf Mk8 GTI Exterior Spyshots
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2020 Volkswagen Golf Mk8 GTI Exterior Spyshots
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We’ve seen the Mk.8, or at least what we thought was the MK. 8, testing in a video a while back, but this is the first time our photographers have spotted it on public roads. We still don’t know a lot about the next-gen Golf, but we do know that this is the hotter GTi model thanks to the bigger, wider wheels, the wider side skirts, and the larger exhaust outlets. We’re also expecting the next-gen GTI to offer around 300 horsepower in most markets, which ill put it a hair over the current GTI TCR that has around 290. The interior will receive a full makeover and should go all-digital, but the overall appearance of the Golf will change very little as is the usual case with the past few generations. Expect a debut to happen later on in 2019, probably at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

Volkswagen Golf Mk8 GTI Exterior

  • Arteon-based design
  • Longer and wider
  • Aggressive stance
  • LED lighting system
2020 Volkswagen Golf Mk8 GTI
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The GTI package will replace the horizontal slats in the grille with a honeycomb mesh

Although Volkswagen is still using the old body for Golf Mk8 test cars, the hatchback will definitely get the company’s latest design language. We’ve seen it on a range of newly-launched models, including the Arteon sedan that replaced the CC. The Golf will also benefit from a larger front grille, bigger headlamps, and a more aggressive bumper. The GTI package will replace the horizontal slats in the grille with a honeycomb mesh and will add the traditional red stripe on each side of the logo.

Our designer also added C-shaped LED lights on the big, black-painted air vents on each side of the lower grille and a heavily sculpted engine hood. Onto the sides, the upcoming Golf shouldn’t change much, so look for the same traditional hatchback grille. However, it will sport revised mirror caps (likely with a carbon-fiber option), a more muscular beltline, and beefier side skirts. A new set of wheels will round off the look.

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Exterior
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Design aside, the new Golf GTI will be a bit longer and wider than its predecessor

The rear section should look very familiar, although Volkswagen will probably redesign the taillights to include new LED lights. More changes will be visible in the bumper, which will gain a new diffuser-like element, hopefully significantly more aggressive than the mundane unit seen on the current GTI. For the first time ever, there will be "Golf" lettering beneath the "VW" badge, similar to the new Arteon.

Design aside, the new Golf GTI will be a bit longer and wider than its predecessor. Not only it will give the hatchback a more planted stance, but it will also increase stability and provide a bit more legroom and elbow room inside the cabin.

Volkswagen Golf Mk8 GTI Interior

  • "Revolutionary" layout
  • Fully connected
  • Semi-autonomous drive
  • More premium features
2015 - 2016 Volkswagen Touareg
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The Touareg’s 15-inch display is likely to be offered on the more expensive trims

The interior of the upcoming Golf Mk8 remains a mystery with no spy shots to run by, but the latest Polo and Touareg models provide some valuable hints.

Although the Golf won’t be identical to any of the cars mentioned above, it will have similar cues, starting with a much cleaner dashboard with rectangular vents at the corners and in the center stack. I will get a much bigger infotainment screen in the middle, with the Touareg’s 15-inch display likely to be offered on the more expensive trims. An all digital instrument cluster is also on the table. As usual, the redesign will include a new steering wheel, revised seats, new upholstery and materials, and enhanced room for rear passengers.

According to design chief Klaus Bischoff, the upcoming Golf will have a "total digital environment"

On the tech front, Volkswagen promises a "revolution." According to design chief Klaus Bischoff, the upcoming Golf will have a "total digital environment; the only analogue aspect is basically the steering wheel."

Karlheinz Hell, Volkswagen’s small car boss, also said that the upcoming Golf will take the hatchback into a new era: "The next Golf will take Volkswagen into the era of fully connected vehicles with extended autonomous driving functions. It will have more software on board than ever before. It will always be online and its digital cockpit and assistance systems will be the benchmark in terms of connectivity and safety."

Volkswagen Golf Mk8 GTI Performance

  • Updated 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • Mild 48V hybrid system
  • Around 270 horsepower
  • 0 to 62 mph in less than six seconds
  • All-wheel drive
2020 Volkswagen Golf Mk8 GTI
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The turbocharged engine will work in conjunction with a 48V mild hybrid system

Official drivetrain details are still under wraps, but we do know that the upcoming Golf GTI will use an updated version of the company’s familiar MQB platform. Word has it that the upgraded underpinnings will help shed up to 70 kg (about 154 pounds) compared to the outgoing model due to use of more lightweight materials. Combined with other weight-saving features, the new Golf GTI could be around 200 pounds lighter than the old model, which will translate into better performance and fuel economy.

Speaking of performance, the GTI will retain its spot between the standard Golf and the performance-rated R model in the lineup. It will also continue to use the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, but the turbocharged unit will work in conjunction with a 48V mild hybrid system. The technology will include engine-off coasting, an integrated starter-motor and generator, as well as electrically driven turbochargers. Output is still a mystery, but the upcoming model should be the most powerful ever built and generate in excess of 250 horsepower.

Volkswagen will probably continue to offer the Performance Package, which should increase the GTI’s output to at least 270 horsepower

With the next-gen Ford Focus ST set to get th RS’ 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine with at least 270 horsepower, the Golf GTI should boasts at least 250 horses in base trim. Volkswagen will probably continue to offer the Performance Package, which should increase the GTI’s output to at least 270 horsepower. An updated all-wheel-drive system will give the hatchback increased stability, traction, and dynamics. Word has it that Volkswagen is working on an electrically driven rear axle for the 4Motion system, but this feature might be offered on the Golf R model only.

Given the extra power, the hybrid setup, and the lighter curb weight, the new Golf GTI should be around a half-second quicker from 0 to 62 mph. The outgoing model needs 6.4 seconds to hit 62 mph, so expect the Mk8 version to get there in 5.9 clicks. Top speed will remain locked at the usual 155 mph.

Volkswagen Golf Mk8 GTI Pricing

2020 Volkswagen Golf Mk8 GTI
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Pricing information is obviously not available at this point, but it’s safe to assume that the redesign will add a premium to the current sticker. With the outgoing GTI priced from $26,415, the Mk8 model could fetch around $28,000 before options. Volkswagen has already confirmed that production of the eighth-generation Golf will start in June 2019, so the GTI model could break cover by the end of 2019.

Volkswagen Golf Mk8 GTI Competitors

Ford Focus ST

Here's a Preview of What the Ford Focus ST and Focus RS Might Look Like
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The Fiesta ST has been the Golf GTI’s main rival for many years now and a brand-new model is underway. Ford has already unveiled the new-generation Fiesta, but the ST model has yet to break cover. The outgoing version is already more powerful than the current Golf GTI at 252 horsepower, but word has it that the next-gen model will generate even more power. The latest rumors claim that the ST will use a detuned version of the 2.3-liter EcoBoost mill from the Focus RS, with output around the 270-horsepower mark. Other sources suggest that the engine could be tuned closer to 300 horses in order to fill the gap between the base model and the next-gen, 400-horsepower, hybrid RS model. If this proves to be true, the Focus ST will be hard to beat. But even with 270 horsepower, the ST will need less than six seconds to hit 62 mph Styling-wise, the new Focus looks decidedly more aggressive and the ST will get sportier bumpers front and rear. The latest Focus is already equipped with Ford’s latest tech and more premium features, so the cabin should be competitive against the upcoming Golf GTI. Pricing will probably start around $26,000 in the United States.

Read our speculative review of the 2019 Ford Focus ST.

Hyundai i30 N

2018 Hyundai i30 N High Resolution Exterior
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2019 Hyundai i30 N

The i30 N is the newest model in this class and unlike other hot-hatches, it has what it takes to give the Golf GTI and Focus ST a run for their money. Developed by Hyundai’s N performance division based in Europe, the i30 N is surprisingly aggressive on the outside, while the interior boasts sporty seats and a lap timer for track duty. The Korean hatchback draws its juice from a 2.0-liter T-GDI engine offered in two configurations. The Standard Package comes with 246 horsepower and 260 pound-feet, while the Performance Package cranks out 271 horses and the same torque. An overboost function adds eight percent more torque and quicker acceleration. But although the i30 N is just as powerful as the next Focus ST and Golf GTI are expected to be, it will be slower from 0 to 62 mph, with the Performance version rated at 6.1 seconds. Top speed is limited to the same 155 mph. The bad news is that the i30 N isn’t offered in the United States, so the comparison is for European consumers only.

Read our full story on the 2018 Hyundai i30 N.


2020 Volkswagen Golf Mk8 GTI Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Granted, the upcoming Volkswagen Golf GTI is a big mystery as of this writing, especially with the regular Golf still under wraps, but rumors suggest that the Germans are preparing the quickest and most advanced GTI ever built. There’s no doubt that the Golf will remain highly popular in this niche, but the competition is getting tougher than ever with the Hyundai i30 N already in dealerships and with a new Ford Focus ST underway. Maybe the highly advance, digital cockpit and the mild hybrid system will make a difference, but we won’t know that until the next Golf GTI breaks cover in 2019.

  • Leave it
    • Tough competition from Ford and Hyundai
    • Not much is known about it


2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI.

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Read more Volkswagen news.

Update History

Update 070/8/2019: Our spy photographers caught the 2020 Volkswagen Golf MK. 8 doing some testing on public roads near the company’s headquarters in Germany. Check out the latest spy shots and what we know in the Spy Shots section below.

Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert -
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read More
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