The last time we heard anything about the next-generation Volkswagen GTI, we thought it would pack a 220-horsepower punch and possibly retain its electronic differential programming. Now, we hear that Volkswagen will probably give it 260 horsepower and a trick front differential.
In the years since the Mark V Volkswagen GTI (2006) debuted, the sub-$30,000 sport compact segment has gotten some serious upgrades. Today's GTI will have to face off against new competitors like the Hyundai Veloster Turbo (201 hp), Fiat 500 Abarth (160 hp), and Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ (200 hp), and battle old rivals like the Hyundai Genesis Coupe (274 hp), Mazda MX-5 Miata (167 hp), Mini Cooper S (181 hp), Mazdaspeed 3 (263 hp), and Subaru WRX (265 hp).
Wading into battle with just 200 horsepower from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine may not be good enough anymore, so Autocar says that the Mark VII (2013) GTI will pack a 260-horsepower punch. That's enough to vault right over the Ford Focus ST, the upcoming 247-horsepower hot hatch that's already aiming to steal the GTI's lunch. It's also a healthy 60 horsepower more than before.
Autocar also says that Volkswagen will look to a new type of front differential to keep the power boost from making the GTI too much of a handful. The differential, dubbed VAQ, is an electronically controlled clutch-type unit, and is similar to those employed in a Haldex all-wheel-drive setup in cars like the Golf R.
While the GTI will be based on the same MQB architecture that will underpin the Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3, we also hear that the car will use aluminum, not steel, in the floorpan and roof to keep weight low.
Expect to see the VW Golf and GTI bow at the Paris Motor Show later this year, with an early-2013 sale date, and perhaps a Golf R variant to follow. We can't wait, but what do you think: is 260 hp and a trick diff enough to push the GTI to the top of the heap? What do you feel the next GTI needs in order to be a success? Send your thoughts to us in the comments section below.