Once upon a time, if you wanted a Volkswagen hot hatchback you bought a Golf GTI. That's still the case with the eighth-generation model making its official debut just ahead of the Geneva Motor Show. It's not the only choice, however, and we aren't referring to different VW models like the Polo or Up, or more hardcore offerings like the Golf R. Launching with the all-new GTI are two GTI-infused siblings, namely the plug-in hybrid GTE and diesel-powered GTD.
Are such offerings deserving of GTI association? On the outside, both models get GTI looks with the updated front fascia and LED light strip in the grille. The GTD wears fender badging similar to the GTI, and at the back there's a special rear fascia with dual exhaust tips exiting the left corner. The hybrid nixes the side badges completely in the name of cleaner airflow, and it shares the standard Golf's rear fascia with fake trapezoid exhaust cutouts at the corners.
Similarly, both models share some of the GTI's interior upfit, with individual tweaks. That includes the digital cockpit with a 10-inch infotainment screen and checkered seat pattern, not to mention a leather-wrapped multi-function sport steering wheel. Each wheel is branded with its own badge, and interior trim colors are also unique to each model. Whereas the GTI cockpit is flush with red accents, you'll find more blue in the GTE hybrid, and more silver for the GTD diesel.
Suspension wise, the GTE and GTD offer upgraded components in line with the GTI. A new control system called the Vehicle Dynamics Manager works with the available adaptive chassis control to make damping adjustments on the fly for better handling and ride comfort during all situations, be it stop-and-go commuting or carving up a race track. Four driver-selectable modes are available, with Comfort, Eco, and Sport being the main choices. An Individual setting lets the driver customize various parameters.
As for power, the GTD doesn't have quite the same punch under the hood compared to the GTI, at least in terms of horsepower. Its 2.0-liter turbodiesel generates 197 hp (147 kW), but it exceeds the gasoline-only mill in the twist department with 295 lb-ft (400 Nm) of torque. VW also gives the diesel a seven-speed DSG transmission for shifting duties.
The GTE plug-in hybrid uses a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine making 147 horsepower (110 kilowatts) and a single 114-hp (85 kW) electric motor. Combined, they match the GTI's total output of 241 hp (180 kW), with torque being equal to the diesel at 295 pound-feet (400 Newton-meters). Being a plug-in hybrid, the GTE is also capable of electric-only operation for approximately 37.2 miles (60 kilometers) and at speeds up to 81 mph (130 km/h). A six-speed DSG is the only available transmission.
It must be noted that these specs apply to European models. That's because neither the GTE nor GTD will be offered to U.S. buyers. We also don't have performance stats from VW to see how these GTI-alternatives stack up to their legendary sibling, nor is pricing available. However, we do expect to see both of these models in European dealers by the end of this year.