Why the New Volkswagen Golf GTI is Still the Best Hot Hatch

Over the last month or so I’ve had numerous requests from friends of mine asking the same question: “what car can I buy for around $30,000?” After considering this inquisition for myself (for about five minutes) I decided, what the hell, why not let everyone know what I think. If you read the title, you can probably deduce that I like the Volkswagen Golf GTI, and you would be absolutely right because I adore the car. Without a doubt, if you gave me $30,000 and told me to buy a new car I would bring you a Golf GTI. And in a perfect world, that would be it really. End of story. Car search, done. Unfortunately, if you live in the United States, things are a bit trickier than that. So, if you can give me your undivided attention for the next five minutes, allow me to explain.

Americans for some reason don’t really like hatchbacks. Maybe it’s because you can fit 30 European countries into the landmass of the United States, or maybe it’s because we don’t have streets about as wide as a book. Either way, they don’t sell very well here in the States. This means Volkswagen has decided that America will only receive the Mk8 Golf in late 2022. So essentially a potential Golf customer has two options: purchase a Mk 7 Golf GTI right now or wait until 2022 and purchase a Mk 8 Golf GTI. 

Pictured: Mk 7 Golf GTI

First, let’s talk about the Mk 7. Volkswagen will continue to offer updated variants of the GTI for the model years 2020 and 2021. These cars will continue to be powered by a four-cylinder 2.0L turbocharged engine which produces 228 hp. Now, in the $30,000 range, you will probably be looking at two trim options, the S and SE.  The S (starting at around $28,000) is essentially the most basic version of the GTI you can purchase while upgrading to the SE (starting at around $32,000) gets you some nicer features like leather seats and a panoramic sunroof. Pricing for the Mk 7 has gotten marginally higher, but a 2020 or 2021 GTI still remains an extremely attractive option. But to better explain why the Mk 7 is still a good option, I think it would help to learn a little bit about the Mk 8. 

Pictured: Progression of Golf Generations

As of right now, Volkswagen has only introduced the basic version of the Mk 8 Golf (in other words, not the GTI or the R), but I think we can still come away with a few reasonable conclusions based on what we already have been presented with. Over the years, the story of the Golf has always been one of evolution. Small changes here and there that add up over time. The Mark 8 isn’t really an exception to this. In my eyes, the only real difference between the Mark 7 and the Mark 8 is refinement. Starting with the exterior, the car already looks much more modern. The front is accentuated by a LED headlamp design, and throughout the car, you can find more angles and edges than before which I think altogether gives the car a more polished appearance. Now I don’t think that this modern look necessarily means that the Mk 8 is a better-looking car than the Mk 7, but that refinement in design does help set the tone for the rest of the car. If you continue to the interior, you see a space much more luxurious than you would otherwise expect from a Golf. The dashboard doesn’t even have buttons, opting instead for slim multi-function touchpads which contribute to the minimalist look that many car manufacturers have fallen in love with. While on the surface the Golf may look a bit more polished than before, I do think that much of the old car’s character will remain. Let us not forget that the Mk 7 was already a great car so it’s not like Volkswagen had to make some major changes. The Mk 8 does exactly what I previously stated, it continues the evolution of the Golf name by making small improvements wherever it can, and at the end of the day when considering the Mk 8 in its entirety it does seem to be a better car. I think it is fair to say then that the new GTI in all likelihood will also adopt this more refined image while making marginal improvements over the current car. 

Pictured: Mk 8 Golf

The Mk 8 does look to be a great purchase, but at the end of the day, if you are in the market for a car right now, there isn’t much sense in waiting two years for the new variant to arrive on American soil. The Mk 7 Golf GTI is already a phenomenal car and well worth the purchase. It’s fast, it’s economical, it’s good looking, it’s practical, and it’s well-engineered. For $30,000 it really is the best option that comes to mind, and in my opinion, it should be the only option you even consider. So if you’re wrapped up in a car search, stop searching and go to your nearest Volkswagen dealership. Or if patience is your virtue, wait two years and then go to your nearest Volkswagen dealership. Either way, you’ve made a good choice.   

Citations:

“Autoblog Is Now A Part Of Verizon Media”. Autoblog.Com, 2020, https://www.autoblog.com/2019/12/06/2020-volkswagen-golf-mk8-review/. Accessed 25 July 2020.

“Autoblog Is Now A Part Of Verizon Media”. Autoblog.Com, 2020, https://www.autoblog.com/2019/10/24/vw-gti-2020-price-increase/#slide-1288669. Accessed 25 July 2020.

“New Mk 8 VW Golf GTI Will Be 2022 Model In U.S., Mk 7 Carries Over For 2021”. Car And Driver, 2020, https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a32463285/vw-golf-gti-mk8-arrival-date-usa/. Accessed 25 July 2020.

“2020 VW Golf GTI Stylish Hot Hatchback | Volkswagen”. Vw.Com, 2020, https://www.vw.com/models/golf-gti/section/trims/. Accessed 25 July 2020.

“Volkswagen Golf (Mk8)”. Top Gear, 2019, https://www.topgear.com/car-reviews/volkswagen/golf-mk8. Accessed 25 July 2020.

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