The 2014 Volkswagen GTI is among the most important new cars debuting at the Geneva Motor Show next week, not because the world needs another sport compact–and not even because the GTI is the oldest nameplate in its segment, having first debuted in 1976. No, the GTI gains its significance because it’s one of the first offshoots from the new Golf’s MQB platform and looks to raise the ante in its segment with shedding weight instead of adding too much horsepower.
Preliminarily, the 2014 Volkswagen GTI undercuts its predecessor by just over 50 pounds, weighing 2,978 pounds in base configuration. But it’s also a fair amount larger in every dimension and comes with a good bit more standard features.
Powering the 2014 GTI is the stalwart 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder that’s in the current GTI, albeit pumped up 20 horses to 220 horsepower. Europe also has a performance pack available that bumps it up another 10 ponies. But there’s no word we’re getting that. What may be more impressive is the engine’s torque figure–brute-force pulling power–raises from 207 lb-ft to 258 at just 1,500 rpm, which means you’re going to get a lot of grunt. While those numbers don’t quite match the Ford Focus ST’s 252 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, the GTI comes in at more than 250 pounds lighter than the Focus. VW estimates a 0 to 60 mph time of 6.5 seconds and a 153-mph top speed with the 220-horsepower model. The extra 10 horsepower in the upgrade pack will shave off a tenth of a second and add 2 mph to the top end, respectively. The Performance Pack will also come with a locking limited-slip differential for better front-wheel traction and larger brakes.
The Volkswagen GTD, which is the diesel version of the car the U.S. is rumored to get, will have 184 horsepower–up 14–and 280 lb-ft of torque–up 22 lb-ft–while returning fuel economy in the 40 mpg range.
Volkswagen says that with the standard six-speed manual, the 2014 GTI will have an 18-percent increase in fuel economy in European testing. In the U.S., the current car is rated at 21 mpg city/31 mpg highway. The available dual-clutch automatic gearbox doesn’t do quite as well.
Visually, the 2014 Volkswagen GTI sets itself apart with a lowered suspension, standard 17-inch wheels, side skirts, a rear diffuser, and smoked LED tail lights. There’s no word on whether our GTI will get the tail lights yet, as the Euro-spec Volkswagen Golf R makes use of LED tail lights while our car has halogen bulbs.
Inside, tartan-pattern seats make their return, as do red LED accents, a flat-bottom steering wheel, GTI-exclusive trim, automatic climate control, park assist, a touchscreen infotainment system, and heated front seats. Initially, the GTI will be available in Germany in just black, white, and gray, with a price starting at 28,350 euros, or about $37,000. Don’t fret; that’s just a hair more than the outgoing model in Deutschland, which starts at a much more palatable $24,790, including $795 for destination and handling.
Based on VW’s new MQB structure, a $70 billion–with a “B”–project that will consolidate costs as it brings nearly every VW vehicle onto a common platform, the 2014 Volkswagen GTI shows that shedding weight and adding performance is a top priority for the automaker. Being shown for the first time to the public next week in Geneva, the new GTI will go on sale in Europe in May, with the car coming to the U.S. at a date to be decided. Seeing how the current car is among the most fun cars for the money, the new one–lighter, more powerful, and more advanced–should be a riot to drive. We can’t wait to find out.