Volkswagen has shown us what may just end up being some of our favourite cars of the year - the new hot Golfs; GTI, GTD and GTE (with the mighty R still as yet unseen).
Quiet styling, as is tradition
Style wise, these are quiet-looking cars, if still gently purposeful and are certainly following in the tradition of fast Golfs speaking quietly and carrying a big stick. There's a deeper front airdam, pinstriping across the nose, neat LED 'ghost' signatures for the lights and multi-point fog lights set down low.
There are new 17-inch 'Richmond' alloy wheels, with 18 or 19s available as an option. The GTI and GTD get little extra front wing badges, but the GTE doesn't as that space is taken up by the flap covering its charging point.
Around the back, atop the traditional chunky C-pillar, is a boot spoiler and signature exhausts - one each side for the GTI, two on one side for the GTD, none at all for the GTE.
A cabin that fits like a pair of jeans
The cabin, as Volkswagen would have it, is like "a perfectly fitting pair of jeans." The signature tartan seats are present and correct (with varying colours of thread and weave according to the choice of engine) and a gear shifter indented with golf ball dimples (unless you've gone for the optional seven-speed DSG automatic, which gets the new stubby toggle switch selector). The three-spoke steering wheel now has touch-sensitive controls, and it holds the optional Travel Assist button, which helps to guide the Golf along main roads and motorways at speeds of up to 210km/h.
The 'Innovision' cockpit layout gets two 10.25-inch screens - one for the instruments, and one for the infotainment - and the engine stop-start button pulses red once the doors are opened, until you fire up the powerplant.
Standard equipment will be generous (although Irish prices and specs are not yet confirmed). In general, the Golf GTI should come with Lane Assist lane-keeping system, Front Assist Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring, XDS electronic differential lock and Car2X (local communication with other vehicles and the traffic infrastructure). Standard digital instruments and an infotainment system to suit the mobile We Connect and We Connect Plus online services and functions are also integrated here. A multifunction steering wheel, single-zone automatic climate control (Climatronic), the Press & Drive comfort start system, a Bluetooth provision for mobile telephone, LED headlights, LED taillight clusters, LED daytime running lights, LED reading lights and two USB-C ports should also be included.
More power for GTI, with more on the way
Right, engines. The 'EA888' 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine has been carried over, but power is up in all cases. The standard GTI now has 245hp (which used to be the optional power output), with 370Nm of torque. The GTD gets an updated 'EA288' diesel engine with 200hp and 400Nm of torque, while the GTE's combo of 1.4 TSI petrol, a 13kWh battery and 85kW electric motor means maximum outputs of 245hp and 400Nm of torque. The GTE's electric range is around 60km once the battery is fully charged.
Volkswagen is, right from the top, defending the inclusion of the GTD in a diesel-hostile world, saying that it is hugely efficient over long distances, and that its new 'double-dosing' AdBlue system means that emissions of NOx are tightly controlled. The GTD also comes with a DSG gearbox as standard (which doubtless allows for an even tighter rein on emissions).
Those power outputs are likely to rise, though, certainly for the GTI. SEAT, for example, has already confirmed that its hot Cupra Leon can stretch to 310hp using the same engine, so expect to see a faster Clubsport version of the GTI in due course.
Suspension is by conventional McPherson struts at the front and a multi-link setup at the rear, and there's a new electronic system called the Vehicle Dynamics Manager. This controls both the XDS electronic front differential and the DCC adaptive dampers, to keep the hot Golfs stable and agile at the same time.