The benchmark hot hatch seems to have been muted by global emissions…
Some names are special in the automotive world, capable of inspiring joy before you even get behind the wheel. For Volkswagen fans, it's the three letters GTI, instant notification that the hatchback they're affixed to is no ordinary commuter but a bucket of fun just waiting to be unleashed. So it's fair to say there's the weight of expectation on the shoulders of the eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI, due to arrive as a 2021 model near the end of the current calendar year. But while everyone wants something fun to drive, tightening emissions legislation may be hampering the Golf GTI's aural goodness. At least that's what we suspect after seeing footage of the Golf GTI out in the wild.
The 2021 Golf GTI is once again powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine - as has become a tradition for the last few generations. It develops 245 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, and unlike the Golf R, it sends it all to the front wheels via either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. This was previously a recipe for auditory joy, as the EA888 engine was notoriously flatulent on upshifts, even when driving in more sedate driving modes. However, upon a closer listen to the new footage of the Mk8, it seems to be an awful lot quieter than the GTI we've become accustomed to.
There are two possible theories. One - the GTI in the video isn't being driven with any sort of anger or zest, so it could just be that VW has made the decision to let the GTI mature a little and not make obnoxious noises in regular driving modes or with restrained driving inputs. The second, and unfortunately most likely situation, however, is that in order to comply with tightening legislation surrounding vehicle emissions, modern European cars require a 'petrol particulate filter' to help curb emissions. This regularly results in muted exhaust notes, as seen with the difference in noise between the raucous 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 and the 2021 version of the same. We can only hope we're wrong.