Volkswagen will launch higher performance versions of the next-generation Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf GTI
Big changes are coming to the Volkswagen Golf GTI, according to a new report from Auto Bild. Since the original MKI Golf GTI debuted in 1975, the hot hatch has never attempted to compete with serious performance models, but has instead focused on providing drivers with a fun-to-drive factor.

The present generation GTI, with the optional performance pack, develops 220 horsepower, certainly nothing to sneeze at, but far below rivals like Subaru WRX and its 268 HP output. “Wait,” you’re saying, “that’s what the 300 HP Volkswagen Golf R is for.” An excellent point, dear reader, but with emerging rivals like the 345 HP Ford Focus RS on the horizon, even Volkswagen’s Golf R is out-classed.

The answer, it would appear, will not come in the form of an R-badged Golf, but a higher performance GTI lineup, each one with significant power bumps.

Before the next generation Volkswagen Golf is revealed in 2018, the German automaker will reveal a facelifted hatch in 2016, and an electric concept at CES in January.

After the standard Golf goes on sale, the first of the new GTI variants will debut in 2019 under the name “GTI Classic.” The entry-level trim will boast 265 HP, an increase of 45 horses over the performance-pack 2015 model. Soon after, a “Performance Edition” will raise output to 300 HP, matching the current Golf R. And finally, the GTI-range-topping “Clubsport” will bring 326 ponies to the table.

Though the GTI Clubsport would still train the most powerful production hatchbacks, it’s part of Volkswagen’s plan to leave the 420 horsepower, all-wheel-drive R400 as the ultimate Golf.

And for the impatient lot, a current generation Golf GTI Clubsport will debut to celebrate the brand’s 40th anniversary; the Clubsport will pack 261 horsepower in a uniquely-styled package.

On the efficiency end of the Golf spectrum, Volkswagen plans to introduce a plug-in hybrid version of the next-generation hatch with an all-electric range of 31 miles. Its powertrain will deliver 201 HP and 258 pound-feet of torque.

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