2009 Volkswagen GTI

2009 Volkswagen GTI

Though we were intrigued by news of a sixth-generation Golf, as enthusiasts and devotees of the current GTI we wondered when the next hot hatch would arrive. It turns out the 2008 Paris motor show will grant us our first official look at the 2009 Volkswagen GTI - though VW managed to slip some information out in advance.

Like the next Golf/Rabbit itself, the new GTI is what could be deemed a mild evolution. Though the platform has been considerably reworked, much of it still harkens back to the fifth-generation car - which, we'd argue, isn't necessarily a bad thing. We found that car's chassis to be a verifiable gem among small cars, and if Volkswagen can save money by carrying over some components, so be it.

Though one premise of the sixth-gen Golf is cheap assembly, VW knows it can't rest content with leftover hardware - particularly not for the GTI. A perfect example is the 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injected (or, in VW-speak, 'TFSI') I-4. Though the Mk V GTI uses the same basic motor, the Mk VI model pumps out 210 hp, ten ponies more than the outgoing car. Torque, however, doesn't change - the TFSI's still good for 207 lb-ft of torque between 1800 and 5000 rpm. Transmissions, like the engine itself, are also carryover. Customers can still choose either the standard six-speed manual or the optional six-speed dual-clutch DSG semi-auto 'box.

Regardless of the choice, both transaxles send their power to the front wheels, but there is something new between them. Volkswagen's added "XDS," their buzzword for an electronic limited-slip differential. Though it's not a revolutionary piece of technology, this does mark its first appearance on a GTI.

The same goes for the Adaptive Chassis Control system. First seen on the 2009 Scirocco (itself sharing bits with the new Golf and GTI), ACC allows the driver to tailor the car's suspension and steering using normal, comfort, and sport modes.

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