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New Volkswagen Golf GTD previewed ahead of Geneva debut

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2020 Volkswagen Golf GTD front end render Warm hatch will feature the cleanest, most efficient and most powerful diesel engine yet fitted to a Golf

Volkswagen has confirmed that the GTD version of its new Golf will make its debut at the Geneva motor show next month.

The front end of the diesel-powered warm hatchback, previewed in an official rendering, looks to feature broadly similar styling to the standard Golf, but it will gain a distinctive light pattern in its lower grille, like the plug-in hybrid GTE. 

Volkswagen claims the powertrain in the new GTD is "the most powerful and, thanks to twin-dosing, cleanest turbo diesel injection engine ever to be installed in a Golf".

It's set to offer enhanced performance, reduced emissions and improved efficiency over the previous GTD, which made 181bhp and 280lb ft of torqueWe know it will use a variant of Volkswagen's well-established 2.0-litre diesel engine with mild hybrid technology.

The official confirmation follows the inadvertent publication of the GTD's 197bhp output and the news that three more hot Golf models are set to appear throughout 2020.

Likely appearing alongside the GTD at Geneva, the new GTI follows the plug-in hybrid GTE, revealed last year, and will be joined by a high-performance GTI TCR variant and a range-topping R. 

A slideshow - which appears to have come from a brand or dealer presentation - confirms the GTI's previously reported power output of 241bhp (converted from the kW figure). That's the same output as the GTE. It also shows a TCR variant (which may be badged something else) with an output of 296bhp. 

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The R will head up the range with an apparent output of 329bhp - a 33bhp increase on the outgoing car. 

Following the reveal of the GTI and GTD at Geneva motor show, the R version is expected to be shown in July at the Goodwood Festival of Speed

The transformation from regular Golf to GTI is likely to be as subtly handled as previous variants. It will include the usual dual-exit tailpipes, red brake calipers, chunky air intakes and a bodykit extending around the lower portion of the car. 

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2020 VW Golf GTI: engine and powertrain

In a reversal of original plans, Wolfsburg has decided not to make a more radical switch to hybrid power. Instead, the eighth-generation Golf GTI is set to stick with much of the hardware that has made the seventh-generation model such a success, both critically and commercially. 

That means an updated version of the Audi-developed EA888 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine used in the existing Mk7 Golf GTI. Again, like the current car, it will be offered with two power outputs: a standard output of 241bhp and a more powerful 296bhp model, which will replace the MK7 Performance version.

Although it was previously thought that the latter variant would wear the TCR badge, VW's decision to leave the racing series as part of its plans to end all combustion-engined motorsport means it's possible the car will use the Clubsport name instead. 

An increase in torque beyond the 258lb ft and 273lb ft of today’s two versions of the GTI is claimed to establish new levels of performance. In the case of the higher-spec model, it is said the 0-62mph time will be less than six seconds and the top speed 155mph. Gearbox choices will include carry-over versions of today’s six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic items. 

As recently as late 2018, VW had planned to switch the Golf GTI to mild hybrid power as the performance flagship of a new range of IQ-badged petrol-electric mild hybrid models. 

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That system is also based around the EA888 engine. However, it will not be used on the Golf GTI, under the instruction of VW Group chairman Herbert Diess, who reversed the decision of his predecessor, Matthias Müller. 

The transversely mounted 2.0-litre four-cylinder powerplant will be mated to an electric motor and 48V electrical architecture. It is a setup that VW plans to mirror on the smaller 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel units used in the Mk8 Golf. 

The original plan had been to improve the Golf GTI’s low-end response with electric boosting. Additionally, the technology was to bring a coasting function that idles the engine on a trailing throttle and a recuperation system that harvests kinetic energy during braking. However, VW’s about-turn on hybrid technology should lead to the new GTI having a similar character to today’s car. 

2020 VW Golf GTI: chassis and underpinnings

The new Golf GTI is underpinned by a further-developed version of the existing model’s MQB platform, using a MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension in combination with adaptive damping control. 

Engineers involved in the new car’s development say a lot of attention has been focused on steering accuracy. The electro-mechanical set-up of the outgoing model has been heavily reworked to provide added levels of feedback and a more direct ratio. 

Buyers will be restricted to just one bodystyle: a five-door hatchback. The three-door will no longer be produced. Changes inside include a new digital instrument cluster with an optional head-up display unit, plus new switchgear, including a centre console featuring a stubby T-shaped gear selector for DSG-equipped versions. 

The new GTI is also expected to follow the mainstream model and get a technical overhaul. Most significantly, this includes the integration of a new, larger infotainement screen that will have some touch functionality, but also a new tactile control system designed to make the most common control adjustments easier.

GTE, GTD and R variants: what do we know so far?

A performance increase for the GTI is necessary to ensure that it occupies a performance level above the new GTE, revealed at the same time as the standard Golf. 

That model's 241bhp comes from a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine combined with an electric motor, with a lower-powered 201bhp variant expected at a later date. It makes use of a 13kWh battery that allows up to 43 miles of zero-emissions range, and can be taken up to 87mph without any assistance from the engine. Performance figures are yet to be detailed, however, as are economy figures. 

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The R is again likely to use a heavily boosted EA888 motor with at least 300bhp in entry-level form, mated to four-wheel drive. Insiders suggest a range-topping R Plus is still on the cards, albeit with around 350bhp rather than the previously rumoured 400bhp. 

Read more

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