2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI is coming with a standard manual gearbox

Volkswagen recently unveiled the 2021 Golf GTI at the Geneva Auto Show, and there were two exciting details that made us take notice. First, Volkswagen confirmed the Golf GTI is arriving in North America along with the Golf R. We already knew this when VW debuted the all-new eight-generation Golf in October of last year.

And yes, this is good news considering the base Golf won’t probably make it to the USA. The keyword here is ‘probably’ since nothing is final yet.

Next, the 2021 VW Golf GTI is arriving at the hot-hatch party with a standard six-speed manual stick shift, which in our humble opinion is the only way to drive a hot hatch.

The new VW Golf GTI is packing more muscle

There’s more good news. In what we call a brilliant move, the new VW Golf GTI is packing more power under the hood. Apparently, we’ll get the Euro-spec Golf GTI with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine generating 245-horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque.

The power boost is a welcome feature considering the previous Golf GTI was only good for a measly 228 horsepower. And if you don’t like driving stick (you poor thing!), VW will shoehorn an optional seven-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic transmission to prevent an aching left leg in traffic.

Of course, the GTI is based on the Mk 8 VW Golf

At first glance, it’s hard to tell the differences between the previous model and the new Mk 8 Golf. However, look closer and you’ll see the new Golf is sleeker, sharper, and more aerodynamic. It still has a powerful rear end along with broad shoulder lines and a large greenhouse for a dose of familiarity.

The standard LED headlights in the Golf GTI are positioned lower than before while there’s a narrow red line spanning the entire width on the front end. Apparently, this red line that spans the width of the headlights and radiator grille is replaced by a blue line in the Golf GTE PHEV and a silver line in the Golf GTD diesel – both of which are NOT arriving in the USA.

Also new is a one-piece lower air intake grille with a honeycomb pattern. The grille also houses unique X-shaped fog lights that give the Golf GTI an unmistakable presence. Standard in the new Golf GTI are 17-inch Richmond aluminum-alloy wheels and red brake calipers. Larger 18-inch or 19-inch wheels remain optional.

Out in the back, the VW Golf GTI receives LED taillight clusters along with a centrally-positioned GTI emblem (previous GTI models had the emblem positioned on the driver side). Apart from a new sculpted rear bumper, the GTI also has a sporty diffuser and one tailpipe on each side.

The interior is also new

We’re all living in the modern age, and so is the new Mk8 Golf. The GTI has a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and a large 10-inch infotainment screen. The GTI also has standard ambient lighting, two USB-C ports, stainless steel pedal covers, single-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth and a multifunction steering wheel.

Every new Golf is fitted with standard driving assist systems including lane-keeping assist, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, Car2X communication, and an XDS electronic differential lock.

Oh, and before we forget, the 2021 VW Golf GTI also has vintage plaid cloth seats. Meanwhile, manual versions also receive a golf ball shifter knob.

Volkswagen has yet to announce pricing information for the 2021 Golf GTI, nor did it reveal when the car will go on sale. We reckon the first deliveries will arrive later in 2020 (as a 2021 model) or early 2021.

2021 Volkswagen Golf GTI Image Gallery