The only distinction between the Volkswagen MkVI GTI and the retiring model is about a new front-end design. The previous generation saw 1.7 million units sold and the new version is anticipated to do the same or even better.
It will come with three- and five-door variants making it a more-than-average Euro hatch which will appeal to a broader customer base. The foundation for the GTI upgrade is the MkVI Golf platform which is indeed an improvement. The hatch keeps its 2.0-liter turbo unit but it currently generates 210hp (155kW) which is about 10hp (7kW) above the retiring version.
The maximum speed is 240km/h limited and acceleration from 0-100km/h is attained at 6.9 seconds. The engine is also flexible as demonstrated by an acceleration of 80-120km/h in 7.5 seconds in the fifth gear and even in the sixth gear it takes it under 10 seconds.
This is due to a tuning of the engine that guarantees torque throughout the rev range, with the GTI generating 206lb-ft (280Nm) at an early 1,800 rpm. A fuel economy of 31.6mpg (7.4 liter/100km) is created by a low-end boost.
Power is channeled to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual or optional six-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Instead of putting in more power into their hatchbacks Volkswagen has focused more on enhancing the dynamics of the new GTI with a fresh sports suspension, DCC adjustable damping and an XDS electronic differential. Compared to the standard Golf, the hatch's front end has been lowered by 22mm and with the rear at 15mm which necessitated the retuning of the entire configuration of the springs, dampers and rear stabilizers.
Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC), constantly adjusts to the road and driving condition and revises the dampers significantly in a very brief time. The DCC comes with three modes: Normal, Sport and Comfort.
Built-in in the stability system is the extension of the electronic limited-slip differential (EDS), the XDS electronic transverse differential lock. When the car does a steep corner and its electronics detect that the wheel at the inside of the curve on the front axle is beginning to slip, the hydraulics of the stability system builds up pressure in the braking system at the wheels to bring back traction. In effect, the XDS works as a kind of transverse differential lock that balances the understeer that is usual on FWD cars when doing hard corners.
Inside, the GTI is fitted with standard sports bucket seats at the front which are covered in a blend of tartan fabric and a choice of leather. The car is equipped with GTI logoed headrests that come with anti-whiplash. Further features consist of stainless steel pedals, aluminum gear knob and a leather steering wheel with the GTI emblem on the center. The car sits five passengers, while the rear seats can be folded to increase luggage space to 1,305 liters from just 350 liters. The car will be available for sale this week in Germany while North American variants will hit markets in the middle of 2009.