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The 2022 Golf GTI will have a much smarter brain for more driving fun

Now that COVID-19 has put paid to traveling anywhere for all but the most essential reasons, driving impressions of Volkswagen’s new Golf GTI will remain an indeterminate while away. But VW’s engineers and designers are just as capable of conducting a product briefing remotely as they are in person, so we can bring you plenty of technical info on what is now the eighth generation of the archetypal hot hatchback.

It all began in 1975, when some enterprising soul at VW thought to shoehorn a more powerful engine and some uprated suspension bits into the company’s then-new Golf hatchback. Front-engined and front-wheel drive, the hatchback Golf itself was considered a risky move inside a company that was known for air-cooled rear-engined machinery. So the GTI was planned as a limited-run variant to give the new car a bit of a halo. Instead, it became a massive sales hit, earning it a permanent place in VW’s lineup. And while you (or rather I) might think of Europe as the home of the GTI, apparently the United States and Canada now account for 45 percent of all GTI sales. (Thus, we’ll be getting the GTI and the next Golf R but none of the more basic Golfs.)

Yes, there will still be a six-speed manual

The Mk8 GTI is a gentle evolution of the outgoing model, and it uses the same Modularer Querbaukasten, or Modular Transverse Toolkit architecture, as most of the rest of VW’s internal combustion-powered range. The styling changes between Mks 7 and 8 are subtle enough that non-car people will probably miss them, but if you’re staring at a Golf and you see a lower grille full of hexagons, some of which turn out to be LED foglights, you’re looking at an Mk8.

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