New Volkswagen Golf GTD, GTE and GTI revealed

  • New Golf GTI, GTE and GTD models revealed
  • Engines and spec details confirmed
  • Would you have petrol, plug-in hybrid or diesel?

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI front view

Volkswagen has given us a first look at the latest Golf 8 models to be revealed at the Geneva motor show in March 2020. The Golf GTI aims to be as individual and as sporty as the last one, while the rapid GTD gets a similar front-end design and wanting to prove there's life left in diesel. The GTE also makes a return, continuing to combine low CO2 emissions with a dose of sporting appeal.

We have the first official pictures of the GTD, GTE and GTI variants of the upcoming Golf. As before, you can differentiate each of them up front by the specific colour-coded strip situated below the bonnet – red for the GTI, blue for GTE and silver for the GTD.

For the first time ever, buyers can option an additional LED strip across the front centre grille, joining up the two headlight signatures to be a full-width design. The front foglights have also been integrated into the honeycomb pattern of the lower grille, with five individual hexagonal units arranged in an X formation.

The GTI will be powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, driving the front wheels and developing 245hp and 370Nm of torque. As before, a six-speed manual gearbox is standard, with a seven-speed DSG automatic as an option.

Volkswagen says: 'The Golf GTI became an icon because Volkswagen continually reinvented it, all along combining tradition with innovation. And that’s also the case in 2020. Volkswagen has digitalised and networked the new Golf GTI, catapulting it into the future with a multitude of intelligent assistance systems and a both powerful and stylish design.'

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI front wheel

The pictures here show the GTI wearing 18-inch wheels, but 17-inch wheels will come as standard, with larger 19-inch ones available as an option.

All three models come with LED rear lights and the lettering now sits centrally below the VW emblem. The GTI has a twin exhaust setup, while the GTD has twin pipes located on the left-hand side only. The GTE will have none on show.

The GTI and GTD will have small badges on the front wings, but the GTE does without – you’ll have to spy the charging port on the front passenger side wing instead to identify the plug-in hybrid. Speaking of which…

The GTE makes a return

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTE front quarter view

The plug-in hybrid has reappeared, with its 1.4-litre petrol engine and electric motor found underneath that subtle bodykit. Power from the petrol engine remains the same as before, with 150hp, but the combined power with the electric motor equates to a total output of 245hp and 400Nm of torque - that’s quite a leap from the previous model’s 204hp.

A six-speed DSG automatic continues to come as standard, but there’s a new 13kWh lithium-ion battery, increasing the electric-only range to approximately 37 miles. You can also drive up to 80mph, where permitted, in electric mode too.

What about the Golf GTD?

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTD front quarter view

In a bid to prove that it’s really cleaned up its act since the Dieselgate scandal – Volkswagen is touting this new model as having ‘one of the cleanest combustion engines in the world’.

Described as ‘the long-distance sports car’, the GTD uses an evolution of Volkswagen Group’s 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine. Power output sees a slight improvement over the previous car’s 184hp, climbing up to the same 200hp figure found on the new Skoda Octavia vRS diesel.

However as with any diesel engine, torque will be the driving factor of its performance and how muscular the engine feels, and here, it’s rated at 400Nm. The seven-speed automatic is offered as standard.

Volkswagen claims that the use of ‘twin-dosing’ – essentially using two exhaust gas treatment systems instead of just one – makes the GTD one of the cleanest diesel cars in the world. Only time will tell the effectiveness and, indeed, reliability of these emissions control systems, however.

Familiar formula, but with up-to-date tech

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI interior

Standard equipment on these Golfs include red brake calipers, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a subtle bodykit on the outside – GTI and GTD also come with 15mm lowered suspension - but on the inside, there’ll be digital dials for the driver, stainless steel pedals, climate control and coloured highlights on the seats and steering wheel.

Dynamically, adaptive suspension is an optional extra and can be altered in line with the selected Comfort, Eco, Sport and Individual drive mode.

What this means for you

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTE plugged-in for charging

The Golf GTI is an enduring franchise for Volkswagen, consistently the front-running hot hatch since it first arrived in right-hand drive form in the UK way back in 1979. With the 2020 model, the emphasis will be very much on tech and connectivity – but you can guarantee that it will still be the grown-up sports car that its predecessor was. Expect it to be the best of the bunch.

Diesel’s still something of a dirty word – especially when it comes from Volkswagen. Powerful diesel cars do have their fans, and they’ll no doubt be pleased by this announcement, but we can’t imagine that we’ll be recommending the GTD to anyone but the highest-mileage drivers, due to the need to keep those sophisticated exhaust systems cleaned out.

The GTE may be a bit niche for some, but will be a welcome return for others -  especially for company car drivers or those who reside in towns and cities.

But whichever is your favoured fast Golf, be it diesel, petrol, or plug-in hybrid, expect it to be good. Last year in the UK 40% of all Golfs were fast ones – the company simply can't afford to get it wrong.

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI rear view

Further reading:

>> Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal - what you need to know

>> Our full Mk8 Volkswagen Golf review

>> The best hatchbacks to buy