Engine and performance
The Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI is powered by an uprated version of the familiar EA888 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. The tinkering has given it an extra 11kW and 20Nm, bringing the grand total to 180kW and 370Nm.
It may not posses heart-stopping acceleration but the Golf GTI satisfies with its ultra-responsive throttle and brisk, effortless acceleration. It’s perfectly calibrated seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is instrumental here, working like a charm when left to its own devices. “Flappy paddles” are in place for the occasions when you feel like being in control.
Given its weight and the fact that it is driven exclusively through the front wheels, the Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI handles very tidily and it inspires confidence when pushed hard through corners.
Revised suspension settings and a new aluminium subframe keep it at the sharp end of its game, as does the new Vehicle Dynamics Manager control system, which looks after the XDS differential lock and the optional adaptive shocks. If you dig deep enough in the central infotainment menu you’ll also find ESC Sport and ESC Off functions, which make things a bit more playful, albeit without as big a safety net.
That’s all good and well but, as a daily driving machine, you’re going to want a comfortable ride quality, and the Golf 8 GTI impresses no end here. Sure, there is a little firmness as you’d expect in a performance car, but I never found the ride to be uncomfortable. In fact, there are many non-performance cars that don’t ride as comfortably as the Golf.
As you’d expect at this level, there are a few driving modes that drivers can play around with, including Eco and Sport, and these are easily accessible through a ‘modes’ button on the dashboard. The ‘Sport’ setting isn’t loud and overbearing like the equivalent in some other cars, nor does it try to hold onto gears for too long, which I really appreciated. You could happily drive around in Sport mode all day, every day, without wanting to switch to a more comfortable setting.
The Golf 8’s biggest design departure is its fully digital cockpit. The interior designer surely had an obsession with clean, uncluttered lines because there are no rotary knobs and hardly any buttons on this dashboard and almost everything has been swallowed by the large 10-inch infotainment screen.
This results in a lot more menu digging for basic functions like controlling the ventilation. Granted, it’s not the worst set-up we’ve encountered and there is at least an easy-to-reach shortcut button for the climate controls, but the screen set-up makes it more difficult to change things like fan speed than it would be if conventional controls had been used. This could lead to distracted driving.
Interestingly, many of the buttons on the dashboard and steering wheel are capacitive touch sensors that you can swipe and slide. Drivers can also look forward to a digital instrument cluster which is highly configurable and much more interesting to look at thanks to sharp and colourful graphics, including honeycomb patterns in the dials.
However, the most impressive theatric is the start button, which pulses red until the engine is started. This is on the central tunnel, along with a short and stubby drive-by-wire gear selector and electronic parking brake. Some might prefer a conventional gear stick, but I liked the fact that the three main controls are in proximity, as it makes starting up and parking somewhat simpler.
Stepping into the back, rear legroom is a bit on the tight side, but it should be perfectly tolerable for the around-town trips. The 374 litre boot is par for the course in the hatchback segment.
According to Volkswagen, the ‘standard’ hatch ships with GTI Vienna leather seat upholstery, cruise control, and park distance control, 30-colour ambient lighting, Composition Media Radio with App-Connect, inductive phone charging, keyless start and a heated leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel.
However, one will have to pay more for a lot of the nice things like a Harmon Kardon Sound System IQ Light LED Matrix headlights, Adaptive Cruise Control, panoramic sunroof and a Discover Pro infotainment system with satnav. Even the reverse camera means costs extra and so is the Adaptive Chassis Control with electronic dampers.
FACTS: Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI DSG
- Engine: 2.0-litre, 4-cyl, turbopetrol
- Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automated
- Drive: Front-wheel drive
- Power: 180kW @ 5000-6000rpm
- Torque: 370Nm @ 1600-4300rpm
- Fuel use: 7.0 l/100km (claimed)
- Warranty: 3-year/120 000km
- Service plan: 5-year/90 000km
Toyota hits back with the GR Corolla rumoured to pack 224kw
With its rally-derived technology, the Toyota GR Yaris is not just very much in a class of its own, but as well is the beginning of Toyota’s modern hot hatch story. Though still to be confirmed, the latest rumours are pointing towards a Toyota GR Corolla making an entrance at some point, with a Rally edition that pushes out around 224kW. The Toyota GR Corolla is set to be powered by an uprated version of the Yaris’s 1.6-litre three-cylinder turbopetrol engine, the Australian publication reported, and it is also set to receive its smaller sibling’s GR-Four all-wheel drive system.
Although it will be slightly less powerful than the 235kW Volkswagen Golf R, the Toyota GR Corolla is likely to make up for that to some degree with lightweight body panels, and buyers will reportedly have the option of deleting the rear seat bench to save even more weight. The GR Corolla will come with a six-speed manual gearbox, which could be the only option available, although some websites have speculated that an optional automatic transmission could be offered too.
Its exterior design won’t be as radically different from the regular Corolla hatch as its smaller sibling is to the normal Yaris, but you can expect bolder front and rear fascia treatments and possibly flared wheel fenders too, as per the GR Yaris. A variant of the latter’s double wishbone rear suspension system is also likely to find its way into the GR Corolla, along with its two limited-slip differentials. Toyota is aiming to launch the GR Corolla in late 2022 or early 2023.
2022 BMW M135I Xdrive given a sharpened makeover
The BMW M135i xDrive has been treated to a number of technical enhancements, which are said to “noticeably” improve the driving experience of Munich’s rival to a twosome of the popular Volkswagen Golf R and the Mercedes-AMG A35.
Major improvements to both the engine soundtrack and suspension of the all-wheel drive performance hatchback have been made, including dramatically enhanced acoustic experience in the cabin. According to BMW, the revised soundtrack conveys the signature four-cylinder engine note of a BMW M model to those on board more authentically than ever.
The outputs of BMW’s 2-litre turbopetrol engine remain unchanged, at 225kW and 450Nm, as does the claimed 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.8 seconds. As before, power goes to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
As mentioned, the BMW M135i xDrive has also received a number of chassis tweaks. For starters, the camber values for the front wheels have been increased to optimise absorption of lateral forces when accelerating through twisty sections. Furthermore, the spring and damping systems have been recalibrated and a new hydromount has been used to attach the front suspension wishbones. The mounts for the trailing and control arms at the rear axle have also been redesigned.
As before, the BMW M135i xDrive is fitted with a mechanical limited-slip differential on the front axle and the model also comes standard with near-actuator wheel slip limitation integrated into the engine control unit, which allows traction to be controlled up to ten times faster than with conventional systems. Most of the exterior design work remains unchanged.
No chinese GP for the 2022 F1 season
Formula One will have a record 23 races next season but the Chinese Grand Prix has been dropped for the third year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Races in Australia, Singapore, Canada and Japan – all cancelled for the past two seasons – were included on a calendar published recently.
The 2022 season marks the start of a new era, with major rule changes, and opens at Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit on March 20. It ends some 35 weeks later at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina on Nov. 20, the championship’s earliest finish since 2010. Formula One is keen to avoid any regional clash with the soccer World Cup which kicks off in Qatar in late November. Australia’s race in Melbourne, the season-opener in recent years, has been scheduled for April 10 as the third round to allow more time for an easing of the country’s travel restrictions.
The Miami Grand Prix on May 8 is new for 2022, providing a second round in the United States. It remains subject to approval of the circuit, which runs around the city’s Hard Rock Stadium — the home of the Dolphins NFL team. The U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, is on Oct. 23 subject to a new contract being agreed. Singapore’s night race on Oct. 2 was also subject to contract, along with Italy’s Imola and Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya outside Barcelona.
This year was supposed to have 23 races as well but has ended up with 22, using Turkey’s Istanbul Park and Portugal’s Portimao circuits as stand-ins to fill gaps left by cancellations while Saudi Arabia and Qatar debut. The 2020 season had only 17 races.
Around a third of the races next year are expected to be under a new Sprint format trialled this year at Silverstone and Monza, with a third to come at Interlagos in Brazil next month.
The 2022 calendar will feature seven back-to-back pairs of races and two triple-headers. Britain’s Lewis Hamilton could be a record eight times world champion by then, with the Mercedes driver battling Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for this year’s title. Dutch youngster Verstappen is six points clear with six races remaining this season.
2022 Formula One Calendar
- March 20 – Bahrain, Sakhir Circuit
- March 27 – Saudi Arabia, Jeddah
- April 10 – Australia, Melbourne
- April 24 – Emilia Romagna, Imola (Italy)
- May 8 – Miami
- May 22 – Spain, Barcelona
- May 29 – Monaco
- June 12 – Azerbaijan, Baku
- June 19 – Canada, Montreal
- July 3 – Britain, Silverstone
- July 10 – Austria, Spielberg
- July 24 – France, Le Castellet
- July 31 – Hungary, Budapest
- Aug 28 – Belgium, Spa-Francorchamps
- Sept 4 – Netherlands, Zandvoort
- Sept 11 – Italy, Monza
- Sept 25 – Russia, Sochi
- Oct 2 – Singapore
- Oct 9 – Japan, Suzuka
- Oct 23 – United States, Austin
- Oct 30 – Mexico, Mexico City
- Nov 13 – Brazil, Sao Paulo
- Nov 20 – Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina