Welcome to the Hooniverse News! As always, this is a weekly recap of the biggest stories in the automotive industry without the fluff or bull. This week, Volkswagen debuts new Mk8 Golf GTI and fulfills their promise of a US version, Polestar previews the near future with a sustainable, advanced concept sedan, KTM is going racing in GT2 with the X-Bow, and Chevrolet just built their last Impala.
Volkswagen Golf Mk8
Industry trends from the last few years have been bleak for car enthusiasts in America. As SUVs and $90,000 luxury pickups become more desirable, automakers have little choice but to cater to those needs. That means more stuff that sells and less stuff that doesn’t. Sporty compacts were one of the first to go. America lost the Fiesta ST, Focus ST and RS, as well as many other sports cars that made the mistake of not being three-row crossovers. Then in the wake of all this was news that seemed almost impossible – we were losing the next-generation Golf. But crucially, Volkswagen said the GTI and R (which make up nearly half of their global Golf sales anyway) would stick around. I’m happy to report that Volkswagen has delivered.
The eighth-generation Golf (or the Mk8 if you’re cultured) is “fully digitalized and networked”, making it “perfect for the modern era”. Don’t worry, VW using words like that doesn’t mean it’s lost touch with its roots or gotten soft. All that means is it has bigger screens on the dashboard now. It’s still a light, nimble, turbocharged sports car with plaid seats and a manual. It’s still the Golf GTI we love underneath.
What may be a little polarizing though is the new exterior design which debuted on the 2021 Golf a few months ago. The main changes are made up front with thin new LED headlights positioned lower. The lights are connected on each end by a new cross bar which is illuminated and carries the mandatory red accent strip on GTI models. The main intake below that is more stylized than it’s ever been with a new honeycomb pattern with black applique around it forming a wing-like design. At each corner is a set of optional fog lights that assume an X-shape and are pretty cleanly integrated inside the grille. The back of course has new lighting elements too as well as a GTI-specific diffuser and dual exhaust setup. There are also sill extensions down the side, a new roof spoiler, and the mandatory red brake calipers setting the GTI apart. Three wheel options are available ranging from 17″ to 19″.
The redesign continues inside with… uh, bigger screens. As is the trend with new cars, they’ve given the new Golfs an all-digital gauge cluster with a larger 10″ infotainment screen situated in a way that makes it almost look like a single piece. There are still a handful of physical buttons left but most functions have been moved to the screen. The traditional three-spoke sport wheel gets a bit modernized too with touch controls and more functionality. And crucially, the plaid survives into the eight-generation. They call this new pattern “Scalepaper”.
Let’s get to the good stuff…
As with every Golf GTI we’ve been blessed with since 1976, an honest four-cylinder engine powers the front wheels with more than enough numbers to get a car this size moving quickly. The latest motor is the EA888 evo4 – a 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct injection engine which produces 245 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. There are reports of a more powerful version being available down the line, but this is already a 17 horsepower and 15 lb.-ft. increase over the Mk7. And rejoice, for the six-speed manual is still the standard gearbox on the Mk8. Those who want quicker shifts or a less annoying commute can still opt for the seven-speed DSG dual-clutch.
The GTI rides on a sportier suspension that’s been tuned specifically for it and the GTD (basically a diesel GTI for Europe). It also sits 0.6″ lower than standard. Additional enhancements given to the GTI include their XDS electronic differential lock and a “perfected” chassis setup comprising of a strut-type front and multi-link rear suspension. All the cool kids in Europe get the option of adding adaptive dampers on top of all this, but we don’t.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI will formally debut at the Geneva Motor Show soon so we may get more details then. For now, we don’t have a price or a timeframe for its launch. But it’s coming to America and that’s all that matters. The apocalypse has been delayed.
Meanwhile, Volvo’s electric performance sub brand, Polestar, is giving us a little glimpse of their big Geneva debut. It’s called the Polestar Precept and it’s a concept car which shows the company’s future vehicle aspirations in a four-door grand tourer. To sum it all up, it “exhibits the execution of new, more sustainable interior materials, the continued development of the digital user interface and the essence of Polestar design.”
I’ll break it down. It’s hard to claim your car is better for the environment when it’s lined with the skin of ten cows. Polestar wants their interiors to be more sustainable, so they worked with Bcomp to create a flax-based composite for interior panels and seatbacks. This not only reduces plastic waste by 80%, it weighs half as much as standard materials. Seat surfaces are 3D-knitted from recycled PET bottles, bolsters and headrests are made from recycled cork vinyl, and carpets are formed from reclaimed fishing nets.
Like any good concept car in 2020, it has a giant tablet mounted on the center console acting as your interface with the car’s systems. There’s also a screen behind the steering wheel so everything the driver needs is right in front of them *cough* Model 3 and Prius *cough*. Polestar has been working with Google to improve their
data collection on you Human-Machine Interface (HMI) which is apparently what tech bros are calling user interfaces now. I suppose this HMI will be easier to use and allow for more intelligent features or something but they haven’t really clarified on what is added here. Some of it will surely involve the use of that LIDAR pod which sits atop the glass roof, which they call a “next step towards increased driving assistance”. Some other tech stuff to note is side camera pods instead of mirrors and no traditional rear-view mirror; that too is replace with a digital screen which displays a live feed from a rear-view camera. There’s actually not much of a rear window at all because of this.
As for the design of the car in general, they call it minimalistic athleticism. They use restrained surfacing and a focus on aerodynamic efficiency to shape the car. It’s built on a long wheelbase for a large battery pack (no specifics yet) with the added bonus of creating a very low and sleek silhouette. It’s an interesting design to say the least but I suspect it may be a bit Pole-arizing. I’ll see myself out.
KTM X-BOW GT2
You’d be excused for forgetting that KTM even still makes a car. The X-Bow has been sold as a road-legal track-day car for several years and has also made somewhat of a name for itself in sportscar competition in the GT4 class. It’s apparently been a success for KTM because they’re going a step further with a new GT2 version. Developed in cooperation with Reiter Engineering, KTM is committing to the SRO’s upcoming GT2 class of sportscar racing. So far they will be competing against Porsche’s 911 GT2 RS Clubsport and Audi’s R8 LMS GT2, and they’ll be using an engine Audi will be familiar with.
The X-Bow GT2 will be powered by a 2.5-liter five-cylinder supplied by Audi with around 600 horsepower on tap. Considering the car weighs just 2,200 pounds, it should be more than enough to keep up with the 700-horsepower Porsche and 640-horsepower Audi. As reported by Sportscar365, the SRO is using targeted power-to-weight ratios to try and keep the cars competitive. If you just want an X-Bow GT2 without worrying about class rules, they will sell you a GTX version that’s intended for private track day events.
As KTM and Reiter Engineering continue the development process, they should receive final homologation from the SRO and start opening up for orders with deliveries expected later this year.
[Source: Reiter Engineering via Sportscar365]
Chevrolet builds its last Impala
It was a day we knew was coming but didn’t want to think much about. The “sign of the times” took 131 casualties yesterday at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant. The Detroit Free Press confirms that it took 130 workers and the Chevrolet Impala, as if the death of Holden wasn’t enough torture for us.
It’s a fate that the Impala and the people of Detroit know all too well. Chevrolet’s flagship sedan has been killed off for the third time since 1958 with its future uncertain. Each time it was cancelled in the past, it was replaced with or survived by something else that could still sort of fit the bill of a large family sedan. This time though it’s a bit different. The sedan isn’t as big in America as it once was as buyers move on to crossovers in droves. This means the Impala is being killed off with no direct replacement in the Chevy lineup. Buick still has the LaCrosse (I had to Google it too) and Cadillac has whatever the CTS was renamed to when their CEO and moved everyone to Brooklyn so he could be closer to that trendy coffee shop he really liked. But the future of those cars is also uncertain as GM scrambles to give the people more ways to buy the same crossover in slightly different sizes.
This move will help GM survive in an ever-changing industry – in fact, the plant will be retooled to produce more electric vehicles – but it’s hard not to mourn the cars it has to sacrifice along the way. In a way, the Impala wasn’t just Chevrolet’s flagship sedan; it was America’s. And it’s probably gone forever…
… until it’s revived as an electric crossover in 3 years.
[Source: Detroit Free Press]
What’s your automotive news?
That’s all I’ve got for you this week, so now it’s your turn. If you saw anything, fixed something, broke everything, or otherwise did anything even remotely car related that you want to share with your fellow hoon, sound off in the comments.
Have a good weekend.