Designing the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI

  • All-new body and digitally-focused interior makes the Mk8 the most sophisticated GTI yet
  • Exterior and interior touches drawn from prior GTI generations

Herndon, VA -- In its eighth generation, the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI offers more power and driving sophistication than ever before. To bring the car to life, Volkswagen designers took on a major challenge--how to create a new look that conveyed the updated performance of the new GTI, without breaking the historic links dating back to the first hot hatch models.

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"The all-new GTI is a design statement; it merges a dynamic, sporty character with uncompromising functionality," said Klaus Zyciora, Head of Volkswagen Group Design. As the former head of design for the Volkswagen brand, he oversaw the development of the new GTI. "We wanted to show that the GTI in its eighth generation has made a huge leap forward in performance."


Based on an updated version of the MQB platform, every exterior panel of the Golf GTI has been redesigned, resulting in a more aggressive stance. A slim, red GTI line that harkens to the first generation GTI runs across the front section under the hood edge. The large, single-piece lower air intake grille features a typical GTI honeycomb pattern, framed on the outside by a black appliqué, with a striking wing-like design on the sides. The new GTI face also includes standard foglights, which have now been integrated into the air intake grille in an X formation.


"The new Golf GTI boasts a very low visual center of gravity, which we achieved through the wide air intakes at the front and the striking shoulder line," said Zyciora. "The connection between upper grille element and headlights is much more precise, elongated even into the fenders, giving the car a much more concentrated and sportier look."


An LED strip in the standard LED headlights mirrors the red line when the daytime running lights are activated, or when the driver approaches with the key. The optional LED strip in the grille, available on SE and Autobahn trims, connects the headlights and the VW logo, creating a new, unmistakable light signature.  Extensive aerodynamic work shaped many parts of the new GTI, from the mirrors and roof spoiler to less visible pieces, such as underbody paneling and wheel well liners. The result is a drag coefficient of 0.275.


The traditional C-pillar visually propels the Golf GTI forward, supported by a powerful rear shoulder section. At the rear, the GTI lettering is now positioned centrally under the new Volkswagen emblem rather than on the driver side. The Golf GTI appears to be even flatter than previous Golf models thanks to the roof spoiler that extends significantly towards the rear (painted in the vehicle color at the top, glossy black at the bottom). Lower down, the diffuser adds an important visual cue for the car's performance, and in keeping with GTI tradition, the new model's exhaust system has one tailpipe on the left and one on the right.


The 2022 Golf GTI will feature three new available aluminum-alloy wheel designs--an 18-inch, five-spoke polished metal design, an optional 18-inch multi-spoke gloss black wheel and optional 19-inch black multi-spoke design with diamond-turned surfaces. Five new colors will be offered, including a Kings Red Metallic that's an homage to the original Mars Red highlights of the first GTI, and the fifth being a special Pomelo Yellow Metallic launch color available only on the top Autobahn trim. "We wanted to offer a bright, exciting color to herald the next generation of GTI," said Megan Closset, Volkswagen Golf GTI Product Manager for the United States. "We've had some fun colors for past GTI generations, like Montana Green, Ginster Yellow, Rave Green, Magma Orange, and Cornflower Blue, to name a handful. Pomelo Yellow Metallic will mark the launch of the Mk 8 GTI in an instantly recognizable way."


Inside, the Golf GTI delivers a future-forward cockpit that retains touches from the past. The Golf GTI's digital displays--the standard Digital Cockpit Pro and either the standard 8.25-inch Composition Media or available 10-inch Discover Pro infotainment system--start up when the doors open. New sport seats with integrated head restraints are standard as well, echoing the shapes of the original GTI seats. The standard cloth fabric has a new design called Scalepaper, featuring red seams with grey and black tartan, and red stitching and edging is used throughout the interior. Ambient lighting, which comes as standard, embeds the displays and all other illuminated interior areas (dash panel, door trim, storage compartment with interface for mobile telephone, footwell) in a spectrum of 30 configurable colors including several pre-loaded ambient color "moods".

"When you drive the car with its new performance features, you are opening up a new world of experience on the digital side," said Zyciora. "Our central display featuring our touch sliders aims for iterative control and will be a huge leap forward for our customers." The standard six-speed manual transmission has a dimpled golf-ball inspired knob freshly designed for the new generation, while the available seven-speed dual-clutch transmission has a modern switch interface, opening up more space in the center console. The three-spoke steering wheel has been refined with touch-sensitive controls and features a red GTI accent at the bottom spoke. Even the engine Start/Stop button has a design flourish: Once the doors have been opened, it pulses red until the engine has been started.

"Each member of our team is aware of the responsibility on their shoulders when developing a new Golf GTI. Evolving an icon like this is an enormous challenge, but also the most exciting thing that can happen to you as a designer," said Zyciora. "I think that we have done a particularly good job."

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