The New Volkswagen GTI Is Here, But The Manual Isn't

Volkswagen has a new GTI. Not a totally new GTI, but a significant refresh of the current 8th-generation model. Changes are sweeping, both in and out, and many of them remedy customer complaints surrounding the MK8 GTI, like physical buttons on the steering wheel and illuminated climate and volume controls. Others update the vehicle with aesthetic changes like new lights, and mechanically with a power bump. However, Volkswagen appears to have killed the manual GTI. Press materials list both an updated power output for the GTI of 262 horsepower and a sole transmission option: a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

More on that in a moment. VW says that the new face features updated LED matrix headlights and taillights. Owners will also be able to customize a “goodbye effect” for the lights in three ways via the infotainment system. The bumper is new too, featuring a honeycomb grille framed by straked air vanes and the colorful red stripe that has adorned the GTI since its inception in the early 80s. The entire Golf lineup also offers four new colors, though it isn’t clear which will make their way to the GTI: Crystal Ice Blue Metallic, Anemone Blue Metallic, Oyster Silver Metallic, and Grenadilla Black Metallic. GTI buyers will be able to opt for a new black roof as well, and the hot hatch will see new 19-inch wheel designs to boot.

Inside, the big news is VW’s massively updated systems. VW calls them more “intuitive” to operate, which is clear from the now-physical wheel controls. In addition to illuminated sliders for temperature and volume, the free-standing screen also features a new menu structure. It is divided into two fixed menu bars, top and bottom, which can store favorite functions. Volkswagen has also made the system faster to respond, too.

Tech updates aren’t just limited to the infotainment. A new Park Assist Pro will be available as well. It allows the new GTI to be driven into and out of parking spaces using your phone, but it isn’t clear yet if this feature will come to US-market Golf models. A new Area View system will also relay a 360-degree image to the car’s center screen when the cameras are activated, greatly enhancing visibility while parking. Finally, a new IDA voice assistant will help drivers control vehicle parameters like A/C, phone, and navigation functions via their voice.

The GTI’s interior and mechanicals remain largely unchanged. VW has added a new carbon fiber trim option for the model, and the rest of the interior features the same mix of materials as the current car, including the wonderfully quirky plaid seats. The only mechanical update to the GTI is the aforementioned 15-hp bump and the death of the manual transmission. Volkswagen hasn’t yet said when updated GTI models will be hitting dealers here in the US, nor if the Golf R will share any of these updates Stateside just yet.

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Chase Bierenkoven
Chase Bierenkoven

Chase is an automotive journalist with years of experience in the industry. He writes for outlets like Edmunds and AutoGuide, among many others. When not writing, Chase is in front of the camera over at The Overrun, his YouTube channel run alongside his friend and co-host Jobe Teehan. If he's not writing reviews of the latest in cars or producing industry coverage, Chase is at home in the driver's seat of his own (usually German) sports cars.

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