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New Volkswagen Golf GTI facelift is hotter than ever with 261bhp

In a bid to trump rivals in the hot hatch market, the Volkswagen Golf GTI has been given more power to go with its new look

The Volkswagen Golf celebrates its 50th birthday in 2024 and VW has seen fit to spruce it up ready for the celebrations. We’re being treated to a facelift of the popular hatchback - which in turn has spawned a far-reaching update of the hot Volkswagen Golf GTI model. 

There’s been a GTI variant of every Golf generation and more often than not, Volkswagen’s hot hatch has been at the very top of its class. That should continue with the new model, building on what was a very convincing Mk8 GTI with a revised powertrain and much-needed interior technology changes for this Mk8.5 version. 

On the outside the changes for the VW Golf GTI follow on from the standard Golf’s facelift so there’s a new LED headlight design and a new rear light signature. As you’d expect, there are some bespoke details for the GTI with a red stripe on the upper grille and a new honeycomb insert for the reshaped wide lower grille. To the rear, twin-exit exhaust tips sit beside a black diffuser and there’s a purposeful roof spoiler above. As standard the GTI gets 17-inch alloy wheels, although up to 19-inch wheels are available. Sitting behind are a set of red-painted brake calipers - upgraded over the standard Golf’s to match the GTI’s performance. 

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Inside, the Golf GTI retains plenty of red stitching on the steering wheel, sports seats (which can be upholstered in a trademark check pattern) and GTI badging. New is the option of carbon fibre trim - a first for the GTI. There’s also ambient lighting with 30 colours to choose from and three-zone climate control.

As with the standard Golf, the GTI’s infotainment and dash has been redesigned in response to some negative feedback. The GTI has added backlighting to the touch sliders on the dash for climate and volume control and on the steering wheel the touch-sensitive buttons have been replaced by physical ones.

There’s a new 12.9-inch central screen replacing the old 10-inch unit, fitted with Volkswagen’s new MIB4 infotainment system. VW claims the system is “simplified” and “very fast in operation”. It features a new layout with the main menu always available. There’s also a 10.25-inch driver’s screen, which VW calls ‘Digital Cockpit Pro’. 

While these interior tweaks are welcome, the big news is that the GTI’s most important attribute appears to have been improved. The outgoing GTI produces 242bhp from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which will be upped to 261bhp for the revised car. There are no performance figures as yet, but it’ll surely beat the current car’s 0-62mph time of 6.2 seconds. So far we’ve not heard of any replacement for the canned six-speed manual so the GTI will only be offered with the seven-speed DSG automatic

There’s also been no word on any chassis tweaks for the Golf GTI. We expect the GTI’s ‘Dynamic Chassis Control’ (DCC) will remain an option, introducing variable settings for the suspension, provided the optional 19-inch alloy wheels are equipped. 

Pricing is yet to be announced but the current car kicks off from £39,815, which means we could see the GTI start at over £40,000 with this new facelift. We expect Volkswagen’s famous hot hatch to go on sale later on this year. 

Click here for our list of the best hot hatchbacks on sale right now...

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Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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