Volkswagen has revealed the eighth-generation version of its quintessential hot hatch, the Golf GTI, ahead of its global debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show. Considering the iconic status of the nameplate, and the fact that most of its fan base is constituted by Volkswagen purists, the Wolfsburg carmaker has wisely refrained from messing with the time-tested formula. There is nothing radical in terms of exterior design, with changes limited to a few cosmetic upgrades to distinguish it from the base Mk8 Golf.

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Apart from the relatively more aggressive bodywork including new bumpers, roof spoiler, diffuser and lettering, the main distinctive feature of the GTI on the outside is the illuminated radiator grille bar that comes as standard. This red accent line runs across the front and over the edge of the headlights. Adding to the striking front fascia are the new optional LED light clusters incorporated into the honeycomb lower intake.

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In profile, the GTI’s most conspicuous element is the standard 17-inch Richmond alloy wheels, with the red brake calipers visible from behind the angular spokes. Alloy wheels in 18-inch or 19-inch sizes are available as optional extras. Out back, new LED taillights flank the GTI badge which is now placed under the Volkswagen logo in the centre as against the previous position on the driver’s side in the outgoing model.

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Inside, Volkswagen has managed to keep the Golf GTI DNA recognisable with the much-loved tartan seats and red accents, while bringing it up to speed with digitisation and the latest tech. While the manual transmission version gets the golf ball shaped gear knob, the DSG variant gets a stubby black shifter. Taking centre stage on the dashboard is a new 10-inch infotainment system placed above center stack, while digital gauges, a start-stop button that pulses red before the engine starts, and ambient lighting with 30 colors to choose from add to the cabin’s ambience. There’s an optional 10.2-inch digital cluster available with navigation integrated into the centre touchscreen.

Photo: Supplied

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Under the bonnet is an updated version of the same turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder that powers the current GTI. However, at 245 horsepower and 370Nm, both power and torque figures are up from the outgoing model’s output.  A six-speed manual transmission remains standard while a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is an option. As before, our market is expected to only get the latter as standard. Power still goes to the front wheels and the new GTI uses a McPherson front axle and multi-link rear suspension, with a new adaptive chassis control system.

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Details on availability, pricing and performance are not out yet, which we expect to have after the debut next week.