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Volkswagen Golf GTI (Mk8) – design

A familiar silhouette with slick lighting and complex detailing

Evo rating
  • Balanced, agile and responsive chassis; good variability within its drive modes
  • Expensive, and that’s before options; user interface is a mess; not actually that engaging

Fundamentally, the Mk8 GTI shares much of its basic proportions and aesthetic with the previous Mk7. The body is a typical two-box hatchback, and despite retaining an upright windscreen, there’s still the same front-quarter windows that (marginally) help front-end visibility.

The GTI has plenty of unique elements marking it out from lesser Golfs, led by the red stripe that stretches across the slim grille slat and into the headlights, which are standard matrix LED units. Under this, the large single grille opening has a simple, oversized honeycomb pattern, which cleverly integrates five-point LED fog lights.

In fact, when the headlights are switched on it also reveals two further lighting units that join the headlights to the central VW badge, making for a busy nighttime aesthetic. This is joined by dual exhaust outlets, but the rest of the design is otherwise fairly subtle.

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Clubsport models are more aggressively styled, with a new front bumper with odd manta ray (the fish, not car) elements up front that replace the fog lights. There’s also a more substantial splitter-like section to the lower bumper that joins more aggressive sills and a protruding rear bumper insert. It also has a more extreme rear wing, and comes with standard black decals running down the doors. It’s not overly fussy, but does require the larger 19-inch wheel option to not look contrived.

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