Specifications of Volkswagen Golf GTI VIII GTI 2.0 TSI (245 HP)
General characteristics of Volkswagen Golf GTI VIII GTI 2.0 TSI (245 HP)
We tested the 2022 GTI in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the surrounding area just outside of trendy Asheville, North Carolina, and found it perfectly suited to the tight, medium-speed, twisty backroads. The front-wheel-drive GTI features a coil-spring suspension with antiroll bars front and back. The models we tested had the company's adaptive damping too, along with its XDS electronic differential lock.
All of that makes the GTI turn in quickly, without much body movement. The steering is weighted nicely, but there isn't a lot of road feel. Grip is high courtesy of new 19-inch wheels shod in Bridgestone Potenza tires, and with that front differential, the GTI is rapid when exiting corners. As the weight (and grip) shifts to the outside front wheel, more power is fed to it, virtually pushing the car in towards the apex. In the sportier modes, besides the suspension getting stiffer, the stability control and locking differential let the driver have more freedom to slip around before jumping in and saving them.
There is one weird thing that we'd like to mention here. It's about the lane assist system. It's activated when the car is turned on and normally gives you a little nudge if you're exiting the lane. On these fast, curvy roads it would "see" the turn coming and push you closer to the inside. We'll grant that it did actually help a few times, but more often surprised us as we were setting up for the corner.
As for the adaptive dampers, there was a little more bounciness in Sport mode than in Normal or Comfort, but it was barely noticeable. Those drive modes, changed with a button under the infotainment screen, changing the steering weight, throttle programming, and shift algorithms on the automatic cars.
The 2022 Golf GTI is the first model year of the new eighth-generation hatch, but because VW has refined this thing dozens of times over more than 40 years, that doesn't worry us. It's the hatchback that debatably created the hot hatch market and for that alone it deserves a long hard look. We'll admit that although there are a smaller number of these cars on the market, they're the best they've ever been.
The evolved EA888 engine makes it worth the cost of admission, with almost the perfect amount of power for tons of fun on the street without stopping at a gas station every few blocks. With that in mind, the combination of space and utility in this GTI, plus the price and fun factor, put this car on our shortlist of daily drivers if we were buying today.
One question we have to ask ourselves is this, is the Mk8 GTI really much better than the Mk7? Handling-wise, yes, it's purer and feels more organic, but the materials are now flimsy, the tech is overly complex, and you still pay top-dollar for a car that now feels cheaper than before.