New 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI leaked ahead of launch

An undisguised image of the VW Golf GTI Mk8 has surfaced online, offering our first look at the hot hatchback’s new rear end and spoiler

An undisguised image of the new Volkswagen Golf GTI has leaked online giving us our first look at the hot hatchback’s redesigned rear bumper, new alloy wheels and new rear spoiler. The Mk8 model will go on sale in the summer closely followed by a new Golf R.

The leaked image reveals that the rear-end styling of the production-ready Golf GTI doesn’t stray too far from our exclusive render, sporting the same twin-exit exhaust system, and a similar rear bumper. This spied GTI also wears an enormous tailgate spoiler, which we expect will be an optional extra.

• Best hot hatchbacks on sale now

We’re yet to see the finished Mk8 Golf GTI’s front end, but our exclusive image (below) gives you a good indication of how it will look. The GTI’s nose will be lower and more aggressive than ever before, with winged LED headlamps stretching down the car’s flanks. Volkswagen will also fit an extended front bumper, which features a new hexagonal grille with integrated fog lights.

Volkswagen can’t afford to get the new GTI wrong, because it’s a consistently strong seller in the UK. Of the 182,000 Golfs sold here in the past three years, nearly 10 percent were GTIs. As such, the rest of the car’s styling will stick to the old model’s tried-and-tested recipe, with a set of larger alloy wheels, lower side skirts and a new boot spoiler. 

For the same reason, Volkswagen will extend its line-up of performance-focused Golfs. The recently launched GTE plug-in hybrid now packs 242bhp, while a new touring car-inspired GTI TCR will become a regular fixture in the Golf Mk8 range.

Engine-wise, Volkswagen considered fitting the GTI with a performance-based mild-hybrid system to strengthen the company’s push for electrification, but it’s now understood that the Mk8 variant will use the same formula championed by the Mk7 model. This will set the hot Golf apart from its Volkswagen Group stablemates – such as the next-generation Skoda Octavia vRS and Cupra Leon, both of which will switch to hybrid power.

Therefore, the new Golf GTI is expected to use a development of Volkswagen’s existing turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, codenamed EA888.

Because the new GTE plug-in hybrid already matches the outgoing GTI’s output of 242bhp, Volkswagen will increase the conventionally powered car’s performance so it can better compete with more powerful rivals such as the Honda Civic Type R and Renault Megane R.S. We expect the range-topping GTI Performance will develop around 280bhp, while the entry-level model will offer a GTE-matching 242bhp.

Both versions will use the same chassis and suspension set-up, which comprises MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link system at the rear. The GTI Performance edition will be offered with a mechanical limited-slip differential, while the entry model will make do with VW’s electronic diff. As before, a six-speed manual gearbox will be offered, with the option of a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

One significant difference between the new GTI and the old one is the Mk8 will be available as a five-door only. VW’s stalwart has not been immune to declining sales of three-door variants – indeed, that style of GTI had already been dropped in some regions – but that configuration has now been removed from the line-up entirely.

We shouldn’t have too long to wait for the Mk8 GTI. We expect it will make its public debut during late spring, with the first UK deliveries arriving by autumn. There will be only a mild increase in price, so the regular non-Performance edition should cost from around £29,000.

GTI generations: how VW’s hot hatch icon has evolved over 45 years

GTI MkI: The original hot hatch? This skunkworks project involved fewer than 10 VW employees, and wasn’t expected to exceed 5,000 sales. It was a smash hit.

GTI Mk2: A true mid-eighties classic, the second-gen GTI introduced 16-valve power for the first time – but stayed with carburettors instead of fuel injection.

GTI Mk3: No longer the beefiest Golf in the range (the VR6 outgunned it), the Mk3 GTI still packed 150bhp, thanks to a switch from 1.8 litres to 2.0 litres. It felt heavy, though. 

GTI Mk4: The over-engineered and weighty Mk4 Golf wasn’t the greatest base for making a hot hatchback. Even a turbocharged motor couldn’t save it.

GTI Mk5: Fifth-generation GTI was a stunning return to form, thanks to its punchy, rev-happy 2.0 turbo motor and an agile yet compliant chassis.

GTI Mk6: The last non-MQB GTI built on the Mk5’s strengths but added more power – up to 232bhp in the ‘Edition 35’ celebration version.

GTI Mk7: Outgoing GTI split into a range of its own, with standard and ‘Performance’ versions, plus more extreme Clubsport and TCR models.

Rivals: What VW’s new GTI needs to beat 

Ford Focus ST

Power: 276bhp
0-62mph: 5.7 seconds
Price: from £32,495

The Focus has a reputation as the best-driving family hatchback, and that translates well into its ST version. It manages to mix raw pace and handling agility with a sophisticated ride, so it’ll be a key target for the VW.

Renault Mégane R.S.

Power: 276bhp
0-62mph: 5.8 seconds
Price: from £27,995 

Another hot hatch icon, Renaultsport’s take on the Mégane has evolved into a car that offers shattering pace and track day-friendly handling – but its suspension does feel firmer than many of its rivals’.

Hyundai i30 N

Power: 271bhp
0-62mph: 6.1 seconds
Price: from £25,995 

The i30 N is Hyundai’s first proper attempt at a hot hatchback – but you’d never know it. A gutsy turbo engine, oodles of driving modes and (in the right colour) understated styling make it a great left-field choice. 

Cupra Leon

Power: 242bhp
0-62mph: 6.0 seconds
Price: TBC 

We’re weeks away from the reveal of the Mk3 SEAT Leon – but we already know that its Cupra performance version will use plug-in hybrid power to mix pace with the ability to run on electric power alone.

Do you think the new Volkswagen Golf GTI will be the best hot hatch money can buy? Let us know your thoughts below…