The Volkswagen Golf enjoys much a similar history as the Beetle. Both small in stature yet quick on their feet, these foreign go-carts have plastered smiles across the faces of many generations. Drivers continue to love that the Golf goes fast, doesn’t drain your gas budget, and is a ride worth taking when push the pedal to the floor.
The 2021 Golf GTI continues this tradition. It’s dynamic, humble, and always ready for a quick jaunt around town. The 2021 GTI steps into the 21st century with modern styling, a peppy yet fuel efficient engine, and enough creature comforts to keep you focused on the road.
We encourage you to add the 2021 Volkwagen Golf GTI to your shortlist. In fact, we’ve put together the following reference guide so you can narrow down your options and get the most for your money. Because in these times, every greenback down makes a difference.
Volkswagen was set to reveal the new 2021 GTI at the cancelled Geneva International Motor Show this March. Since that didn’t happen, details are still emerging as to what will come to American shores and what remains in Europe only. One of the first things to note is that the electric and diesel versions of the GTI will not make it to North America. However, that’s not to say the GTI we are left with will be lacking in power.
In fact, VW confirms the 2021 GTI will have a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder beneath the hood. Capable of 245 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, this engine will mate to a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Like the previous GTIs, the newest generation will be front-wheel drive only. If you’d like to hear the exhaust note on this hot hatchback, click here for some auditory feedback.
Though Volkswagen remains intent on revealing the 2021 Golf GTI in mainly Kings Red Metallic, we imagine the newest model won’t vary much in terms of the current color palette. The 2020 Golf GTI is currently available in Dark Iron Blue Metallic, Pure White, Tornado Red, White Silver Metallic, and Deep Black Pearl. Colors may be limited on base models. However, prospective GTI owners should have the opportunity to enjoy the full pigment spectrum available.
Some of you might consider the “GTI” badge a trim level on its own. That’s fair, since VW lists the regular Golf, Golf Wagon, and the Golf R as a separate models on their website. However, the 2021 model will likely be divided further into the same trims as the outgoing model. From the base S model to the middle-of-the-road SE and even the top-of-the-line Autobahn, each Golf GTI has something unique to offer drivers.
In terms of major and minor details, the GTI continues with many things that made it popular from the beginning. It also changes a few things to stay current. For example, the tartan seating remains but the front fascia receives a lift and some sharpening.
Design and Features
Speaking of that polarizing front fascia, it’s a feature many have loved. However, some have also been scratching their heads at it. Volkswagen calls the design of the new Golf GTI “charismatic.” Coupled with the “powerful shoulder section and striking rear end design,” this new GTI strives to tighten up the rounded edges found on past models. While the base 17-inch rims — which can be upgraded an inch or two, if desired — are standard sizing, VW does give customers a few more choices in design there as well.
Sit inside the 2021 Golf GTI and you’ll find the same basic structure, with some updated styling cues. This eighth generation features automatic climate control, a 10.3-inch gauge cluster, a 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and 30 — yes, we said 30 — ambient lighting shades available. Though this hatchback technically seats five, there’s not much benefit to packing it like a clown car. However, CarBuzz.com does note, “we can confirm overall passenger and cargo space has increased.”
As more and more safety systems achieve standard equipment status by law, new vehicles are much safer from the factory than even five short years ago. Volkswagen installs basic safety systems on the new Golf GTI that include automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection and lane-keeping assist. “Adaptive cruise control with a more precise lane-centering (self-steering) highway function will be available for extra,” says MotorTrend. Forward collision mitigation systems will likely be available as well.
Official ratings have not yet surfaced for the 2021 Golf GTI, but we can use the outgoing model for comparison. For example, a 2020 Golf GTI, with a six-speed manual transmission, should achieve around 24 city and 32 highway EPA-estimated miles-per-gallon (MPG). That’s according to FuelEconomy.gov, which also rates the seven-speed automatic version of the 2020 GTI at 24 city and 32 highway MPG. We expect ratings for the forthcoming generation to follow suit.
With the industry’s trajectory moving it further away from hatches and sedans and closer to SUVs, VW GTI faces less competition than before. However, it remains in an even more cutthroat segment. For example, the Ford Focus ST and RS are no more in the U.S. That leaves the Hyundai Veloster, Toyota Corolla Hatchback, Kia Soul, MINI Cooper, and Honda Civic Type R. However, comparing these models results in a lot of exceptions. Technically a FIAT 500 is a hatchback, along with the MINI Cooper. However, slap a convertible top on both models and it becomes more Mazda Miata-like than your typical hatchback.
That being said, it might be time for VW to bring the diesel and electric GTI models over. Especially since FIAT has the 500e and greener Honda and Toyota offerings might not be far behind. Offering these versions could keep the GTI nameplate alive for 30-40 more years. Because with “more power, additional technology, and fresh looks,” notes MotorTrend, “the latest GTI should amount to a better version of its already hugely appealing self.” Keeping the likable hatch ahead of the curve will attract buyers for generations to come.
The Last Word
Volkswagen has not released a hard deadline for the 2021 Golf GTI. However, most review sites agree that “Americans will likely have to wait until the fourth quarter of 2021 for it to arrive.” Edmunds’ experts place the price range for the newest GTI around $25,000-$35,000. That leaves this hot hatch in an affordable sweet-spot for most customers.
Either way you slice it, there’s a lot of value built into the Golf GTI. From the unassuming lines and simplistic interior design to the fuel efficiency and power ratings achieved by the smaller output engine, the GTI scores big. Test drive the newest Golf GTI at your local Volkswagen dealership — when they arrive, that is — and see why so many drivers around the world have added the Golf GTI to their family.