If you’re shopping for an affordable but entertaining hot hatch, it’s easy to overlook the current VW GTI. On paper, the car only puts out 200 horsepower and 207 foot-pounds of torque. That’s quite a bit less than the rival Mazdaspeed3, which puts down 263 horsepower and 280 ft-lb of torque, or even the Subaru Impreza WRX, which is good for 265 horsepower and 244 ft-lb of torque. Once behind the wheel, it’s easy to see that the GTI is greater than the sum of its parts, but many shoppers don’t even test drive a GTI before moving on to higher-output rivals.
The Mark VII GTI, due in 2013 as a 2014 model, may help to correct that. Sources say that the new car will come with between 220 and 230 horsepower, thanks to a new valve lift system developed by Audi. Next gen GTIs will also benefit from a new electronically controlled locking differential, which will help to get the power down at corner exit.
Don’t look for any significant styling changes to the next GTI, since VW seems to have hit on a formula that attracts buyers of all ages and demographics.