The word icon gets thrown around a lot, but in the case of the Volkswagen Golf GTI, that’s exactly what it is.
The first model began development in 1974 as a secret project for six VW staff members. It started life as the Super Golf, but by the time it went on sale in 1976, it had been given the GTI moniker.
With the eighth-generation Golf recently going on sale, a new Golf GTI is here too. Here are the highlights.
The power unit is a typical VW Group hot hatch recipe, using a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine. In this case it makes 242bhp and 370Nm of torque.
It gets a front locking differential
In the last generation of Golf, only the top models got a front diff, but no longer is this just the preserve of the Performance and TCR, as even standard GTI models get one now.
The differential has become a vital part of modern front-wheel-drive performance cars, because it helps with traction out of corners.
This clever piece of technology manages all of the electrical connections to various mechanical components, such as the differentials and optional adaptive shock absorbers.
It monitors everything from speed to throttle and steering inputs and constantly adapts the car’s settings to provide the best performance.
Unlike typical steering systems, which have a fixed ratio, progressive steering changes the ratio depending on what the driver is doing. Essentially it means the steering is light and easy to use when parking, but becomes weighty and direct when driving in a sporty manner.
VW says it has applied a more direct steering ratio as well as tweaking the software algorithms for improved performance.
The latest Golf is one of the sleekest designs yet, but it has been given a more aggressive look for the GTI. Highlights include an illuminated front grille, hexagonal fog lights, alloy wheels up to 19 inches, and prominent spoilers and wings.
The digital instruments and prominent infotainment screen that now houses most of the controls gives the new GTI a decidedly more modern appearance, but there are a few nods to the history of the GTI, particularly through the use of the classic tartan upholstery.