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2021 Volkswagen GTI MkVIII Looks Sharp in New Teaser

Plaid seats are confirmed, as are several new technical details.

Kelly LinWriter

It's increasingly unlikely Volkswagen will continue selling the standard and new-for-2020 Golf hatchback in the U.S., but the automaker has assured us the GTI is here to stay, a fact reconfirmed today by a VW rep to MotorTrend. And this teaser image is our best look yet at what the eighth-generation hot hatch will offer.

The new Volkswagen GTI will debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month with a new exterior design. The grille has been completely reworked, although the GTI's signature red stripe is still there. The headlights take on a new, slimmer shape, and an optional LED crossbar is integrated into the daytime running lights, bringing to mind the VW ID 4. Plaid seat upholstery is an important part of the GTI's interior design, and it's been confirmed to reappear on the MkVIII GTI. The rear end, which hasn't been shown yet, is described as receiving a GTI-specific fascia with a diffuser and exhaust outlets on both the left and ride sides.

VW hasn't provided U.S.-specific information, but the global GTI will come with plenty of tech goodies. Inside the cabin, look for new digital displays and controls, a new steering wheel with touch controls, and ambient lighting with 32 color options. The GTI will get Car2X technology, allowing cars to warn each other about hazardous road conditions. It will also feature Travel Assist, which is essentially semi-autonomous functionality that relies on lane-keep assist and radar cruise control and can operate at speeds of up to 130 mph. Because autobahn, you know?

Without revealing engine specs, VW says power delivery will "exceed expectations." Word on the street is that the basic Volkswagen GTI could get 245 hp. That's a considerable improvement from the current GTI, which makes 228 horses and 258 lb-ft of torque from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, while a higher-performing variant might reach the 300-hp mark. The latest generation of adaptive chassis control will also make its way to the Golf.

If that's not enough power, Americans will have another enticing option. A new generation Golf R, which is also destined for the U.S., is rumored to make more than 325 horsepower.

The Volkswagen GTI will launch globally in the second half of the year, although America's version—to be built in Wolfsburg—will arrive a bit later than Europe's.

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