A lot of thought went into this.
Last month Volkswagen revealed pricing and trims of the new Golf GTI and its AWD R sibling. Then we got to see what the car could be with a little bit of tuning from the aftermarket, and the result was a stunningly retro BBS concept. But after seven successful iterations of the Golf GTI, how does a designer (or group thereof) decide how to make the eighth generation look as it does? How does one blend the iconic heritage of a globally loved car with contemporary design cues that point to the future? Volkswagen explains how the new GTI was styled, and the amount of detail and thought is astonishing.
Klaus Zycoria is the head of Volkswagen Group Design and says, "The all-new GTI is a design statement; it merges a dynamic, sporty character with uncompromising functionality. We wanted to show that the GTI in its eighth generation has made a huge leap forward in performance."
The new GTI gets that trademark red pinstripe at the front, modernized with the aid of an optional LED strip connecting the headlights and the VW logo. Wide lower side intakes increase visual width as does the shoulder line. This gives the car a low visual center of gravity, but it's more than just styling. Extensive aero work was carried out on everything from the mirrors to the roof spoiler and even underbody paneling and arch liners, resulting in a drag coefficient of just 0.275.
The forward-facing C-pillar and high rear shoulder give the impression of forward movement while an extended roof spoiler helps make the car look flatter. In keeping with a tradition initiated with the Mk. 6 generation, a wide rear diffuser houses one exhaust tip at each end, but there are modern changes too, like the central GTI badge where it would previously be offset to one side.
New wheels include a standard polished18-inch rim, an optional 18-inch gloss black wheel, and an optional 19-inch wheel blending both silver and black. There are five new colors, including Kings Red Metallic that pays homage to the original Mars Red of the Mk. 1 model, and a special new launch color called Pomelo Yellow Metallic available exclusively with the top Autobahn trim.
Inside, the cockpit is "future-forward" and retains touches from the past. When you open the doors, both the digital driver display and the central infotainment screen light up, while new sport seats are said to echo the shapes of the original GTI's seats. A tartan theme for the upholstery is common in GTIs, so this new model gets a fabric called Scalepaper with red seams and stitches complementing gray and black tartan. 30-color ambient lighting adds a touch more modernity.
The steering wheel is also rather modern, with touch-sensitive controls and a red GTI accent. The start/stop button is new and pulses red until you start the car. Finally, the standard manual gearbox comes with a golf ball-inspired knob, although it's less like the original knob than expected.
It's all been done rather well, but if you think that the new GTI doesn't pay proper homage to past generations, take a look at the evolution from the first-ever GTI to now.