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New 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI priced from £33,460

Eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI available with manual and automatic gearboxes, with sales for the Ford Focus ST rival now underway

The new eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI is on sale in the UK now. Prices start from £33,460 for the hot hatchback when equipped with a manual gearbox, while a seven-speed dual clutch automatic version costs £1,500 more.

That’s just a smidgen more than its closest rivals: the Honda Civic Type R starts from £32,820, while the Ford Focus ST is £2,885 cheaper.

The UK market ranks as one of the most important destinations for this latest car, given British buyers’ preference for hot Golfs. Around 40 per cent of all Golfs sold in the UK in 2019 came from the GTI/GTE/GTD and R ranks, so in terms of overall share, the GTI is a heavy lifter in the line-up.

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The standard equipment list for the latest version includes LED Matrix headlights, LED foglights, 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, tartan fabric sports seats and three zone climate control. The GTI features a suite of included safety kit, too: lane change assist, Travel Assist (a combination of lane-keeping and active cruise control systems that enable semi-autonomous driving), Side Assist and Emergency Assist (which can bring the car to a safe halt if the driver is unresponsive) are all included.

As with the previous Golf GTI, the Mk8 features a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that sends its power to the front wheels. The turbocharged 2.0-litre TSI engine now produces 242bhp and 370Nm of torque, and is the fourth generation of the familiar ‘EA888’ engine. In its quickest DSG-equipped form - optimized for this Golf generation with a new shift-by-wire system - the GTI sprints from 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds and has a top speed of 155mph. The standard six-speed manual is newly-developed for this generation.

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WLTP testing figures state that the Golf GTI achieves between 36.7mpg and 38.2mpg depending on spec and gearbox, while CO2 emissions range from 168-174g/km.

From the outside the GTI remains somewhat understated; the bodykit and spoiler barely any more aggressive than regular members of the Golf line-up. However, VW has re-incorporated some trademark GTI touches into the design, in addition to some new design flourishes.

The classic GTI red pinstripe is present and correct at the front, with the headlights linked by a full-width lighting strip lining the car’s nose. Below sits a new front bumper with a large honeycomb-style grille, within which sits those LED foglights in a chequered flag pattern.

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Moving down the sides, the standard GTI 18-inch wheels can be upgraded to larger 19-inch items. Wider side sills appear, while around the back the dual exhausts still feature. The GTI lettering is found right beneath the VW badge, in the middle of the bootlid, for the first time. A small hatch-lid spoiler appears too, rounding off the subtle but sporty touches.

It’s a similar story inside, whereby the interior of the normal Golf has received one or two bespoke GTI applications. There’s a new flat-bottomed steering wheel with GTI lettering and red detailing on the bottom spoke, while tartan checked upholstery returns on the standard fit sports seats - but with a twist. The pattern is colour coded across the GTI/GTE/GTD family, with red stripes in the GTI, but blue in the plug-in hybrid GTE and light grey in the GTD diesel. These colour themes are repeated throughout all three models. 

A standard 10.25-inch digital instrument panel sits behind the steering wheel, with GTI-specific graphics. The centre of the dashboard is occupied by an 8.25-inch touchscreen display, upped to 10 inches optionally, although again, UK equipment levels could be different. Ambient lighting with 30 selectable colours swathes around the dashboard and footwells. There’s a new GTI-specific gearknob on six-speed manual versions, too - but this loses the distinct “golf ball” design of previous generations.

Further variants of the GTI, such as Clubsport models and track-hardened TCR versions, are expected to follow in due course.

Do you like the look of the new Volkswagen Golf GTI? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below...

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Chief reviewer

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

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