Home » The Manual Transmission-less 2025 Volkswagen GTI Is Finally Here. Here’s Why I’m Not Mad

The Manual Transmission-less 2025 Volkswagen GTI Is Finally Here. Here’s Why I’m Not Mad

The New Volkswagen Golf Gti
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How many cars can you think of that have played host to practicality, sensible budgets, performance, and passion for nearly five decades? Perhaps one could argue the Ford Mustang, but let’s face it, the people’s champ is the Volkswagen Golf GTI. It’s the face of front-wheel-drive performance, a class-transcending masterpiece that everyone looks good in. It’s enjoyed its own festival, its own song, its own mascot, and so if any changes are made, you better prepare for pitchforks. However, we are several years into the Mk8 model’s lifecycle, which means it’s time for a mid-life refresh, and oh boy, will the torches be out in force for this one. Not only does it cast a hallmark of hot hatch tradition into the rubbish heap of yesteryear, it amps up the technology with ChatGPT.

The European-spec 2025 Volkswagen Golf GTI has made its global debut today, and it’s a symbol of a changing world. While it’s too soon to say whether it’s the definitive link between past and future, it’s a clear and present indicator that something has started to shift. And you know what? Maybe the future’s not going to be so bad.

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In profile, the new GTI looks almost identical to the old GTI, with the most noticeable difference being wheels that look surprisingly Alfa Romeo. Volkswagen definitely went for a Mk5 throwback blended with the modern trend of diamond-cut faces and dark pockets, but the end result shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Mark my words, these will be some of the hottest wheels in the OEM Plus scene, because they’ll fit a ton of vehicles, be reasonably attainable, and look absolutely stellar.

profile

Less stellar is the giant GTI lettering on each front door. The concept is totally cool, but the plasti-chrome execution feels more Chrysler Sebring Limited than hot hatchback. Give us italic vinyl and a cartoon bunny the size of a manhole cover, you cowards. On the plus side, it’s unlikely the backside of this lettering actually goes through the panel, so there’s a chance that a heat gun and fishing wire ought to sort these emblems. They’ll look mega on your toolbox.

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The New Volkswagen Golf Gti

Otherwise, the body-color incisors coming up the lower grille inspired by the Golf R look wicked, the new headlights are tasteful, and Volkswagen hasn’t fucked with the look of a very good thing. Even with a little more aggression, the GTI is still a hot hatch for certifiably mature people, something that blends in on an autocross course and in an office carpark.

The New Volkswagen Golf Gti

Slide inside, and as expected, this is the first standard production GTI you won’t get the option to row your own gears in, even as an option. The only transmission on the docket is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, and while it’s a good transmission, hot hatch devotees likely feel let down. Look, you had the opportunity to buy a 380 Edition, the last GTI with a stick, while you had the chance. When this updated GTI was being developed, Euro 7 emissions legislation loomed heavy, Volkswagen only had so much engineering capacity, and something had to give. As Volkswagen told us earlier, “these are global cars and no-one buys manuals in other markets.” If every company gave each customer exactly what they wanted, they’d either be broke or Porsche. Thank goodness a GTI isn’t Cayman money.

cabin angle

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Still, it’s not all bad news inside the 2025 Volkswagen Golf GTI. The questionable capacitive-touch steering wheel controls are gone, replaced by real buttons. Volkswagen listened to customer feedback about how it reinvented the wheel to run itself over, and then went back to the old, familiar ways. Speaking of user-friendliness, although the dreaded touch sliders are still on the dashboard, they’re now illuminated at night and a revised top-spec infotainment system shows far more information on the top level of the screen than before, including climate and heated seat info. About bloody time. Mind you, the jury’s still out on Volkswagen’s ChatGPT integration. How badly do you need LLM generative AI while you’re driving, anyway?

The New Volkswagen Golf GTI

Other noteworthy stuff? Well, the GTI is now available with carbon fiber interior trim, and oh yeah, for the European model that’s been shown off, horsepower is up from 241 to 262. No word on torque, but an extra 20 peak horsepower ought to make a difference. Should those gains make the boat across the Atlantic, the 2025 Volkswagen Golf GTI should once again be the smart choice in entry-level performance cars.

(Photo credits: Volkswagen)

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James Carson
James Carson
1 month ago

Meh, and doible meh for the stupid giant ipad glued to the dash.

Nick Fortes
Nick Fortes
1 month ago

The GTE version would sell like gangbusters in the US if VW could figure out how to price it competitively / affordably. Folks love their plug-in hybrids in the US.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
1 month ago

I can deal with the rest of it – but I can’t get past the gaping maw grille flanked by fangs and pseudo-grille with arrays of LED lamps.
(nor do I want to have a conversation with my car unless it can tell me what’s wrong with it at 100% accuracy)

I’d really like to start a company that makes replacement fascias and rear bumpers that are smooth and aerodynamic for overdesigned cars. No more fake grills, gaping maws, overwrought grille inserts, faux-diffusers, etc.
Just sleek painted bumper with tasteful and minimalist vents, simple license plate mounts, and narrow black rub strips meant for actual bumping.

Mr E
Mr E
1 month ago

Honestly, I’m more bummed about the fact that it’s hard to find a Mk2 in decent condition that isn’t crazy money. I loved my last one, but it turned into a rust bucket, so I parted it out and cut the body up with a sawzall. Probably could’ve seen that coming since I bought it on VW Vortex for $750…

I’ll likely never purchase a more modern GTI, regardless of transmission.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
1 month ago

This is written as though it came from someone who’s never owned a Golf / GTI, and would never considered buying one.

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
1 month ago

<removed>

Last edited 1 month ago by BolognaBurrito
MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
1 month ago

So the refresh was basically taking ideas from other brand’s car designs? The dash vents are a desperate copy of Honda’s Civic dash with it’s gorgeous grille across the dash. Those fog lights remind me of a Hyundai or Kia headlight setup. And now I can’t unsee the multiple folds that pinch the fender/hood into curves from the head on view. It looks like an old airstream with it’s tapered triangles and is not as chiseled as a golf used to be.
Perhaps I’m just a retro-grouch and they will sell? I just feel that cars are too complex these days.

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
1 month ago
Reply to  MikeInTheWoods

They didn’t change the dash vents with the refresh, they’ve been that way since it was released… the year before the Civic came to market.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
1 month ago

I’m not mad because the GTI was never a car I’d buy.

I’ve had hot hatches, but cheaper ones, because money was tight. Then, when money was less tight I had a string of BMWs.

The concept of a premium hot hatch is weird. It’s like buying an iced donut with a candle in it for birthday cake money.

Then there is the concept of the VW brand, which I don’t understand at all. The posh ones are Audis, the cheap ones are SEATs, the sensible ones are Skodas, and VW just sits there being neither the best or the cheapest version of that group’s things. They are the Hufflepuff of brands in that group.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

The list is small when you just want to have a small hatch, but also want it to be nice and engaging to drive.

Subaru hasn’t a hatch anymore (not that they were all that posh inside), the Civic feels far more econo than premium, BMW doesn’t have a little hatch anymore (and it’s rear seat was miserable), and the Corolla is a Corolla (much like the Civic is still a Civic).

What’s that leave in North America?
The VW Golf, MB A-Klasse hatch (alive only in Canada, now), and Acura Integra.

The list is short. And only one’s got a manual to keep it engaging (to me).

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
1 month ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

I’m in the UK, so more choice of small cars.

Although we’re worried that finding an engaging replacement for Mrs Muppet’s Suzuki Swift Sport in a few years time is going to be very hard. That thing is genuinely more fun to drive than my old mk3 MR2.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

I get your logic, for Europe (or wherever UK feels they are today), with the VW brand identity.

Why’d you’d ever pick a VW over a Skoda is beyond me, unless you just wanted to part with more coin. But I also don’t see the value proposition of Audi (especially it’s smaller ones) as the incremental upgrade over the lower-marques is near-nothing for an A1/A3.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
1 month ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

The UK feels like it’s in continental Europe, as always.

The small number of people I know who admit to voting to leave the EU regret it bitterly now, but not as bitterly as the ones who voted to not poke a stick in to the greasy wheels of economics and legislation.

I’d like to think that the rest of the world has taken note of our mistake and maybe will take voting for stuff more seriously in the future.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

Conversations I’ve had with random folks in a random ‘spoons in the Midlands often say otherwise to your belief. Despite the economy of the manufacturing middle of England being heavily reliant on EU exports, there’s a surprisingly large number of people insistent they’re better off (usually ending with overt comments about “those people”, seems to be just before I find a reason to chat with another table instead).

But as I’m just a fly-in, there, for business reasons (and ‘spoons clientele being what they are) they feel comfortable to verbalize these comments.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
1 month ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

I’m fortunate to not mix socially with people who think that Brexit has been a success. I’ve been living in a bubble of people who aren’t morons.

I guess if you’re living on benefits and don’t like foreign food it’s probably been fine.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

Maybe look into the Renault Clio? They can be a bit French but they are still really good small cars.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
1 month ago
Reply to  67 Oldsmobile

I’ve done French cars before, and never again. Plus the Clio has gone five door only.

That said I had a rental Micra a few years ago and it was OK, despite being quite Clioey underneath. It was on studded winter tyres and I think that was my favourite thing about it, but they’re illegal here.

She quite likes the idea of a Juke Nismo, which again is half French. I’ve had enough Nissans to be extremely reluctant about them too.

I’d love her to get a GR Yaris, but that’s because I’m not paying for it.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
1 month ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

Subaru hasn’t a hatch anymore”

KNock-KNock
Who’s there?
Impreza
Impreza who?
https://www.subaru.com/vehicles/impreza.html

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
1 month ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

Impreza missed the party due to it’s depressing powertrain options.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
1 month ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

It is an economy car, after all.

BurntClutches
BurntClutches
1 month ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

The RS would be an interesting option to me if it were available with a stick.

Andrew Daisuke
Andrew Daisuke
1 month ago

lol, the wheels are almost the least heinous thing about the car.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 month ago

“On the plus side, it’s unlikely the backside of this lettering actually goes through the panel, so there’s a chance that a heat gun and fishing wire ought to sort these emblems. They’ll look mega on your toolbox.”

So good news/bad news. Those GTI badges DO go through the panel.

The good news is they’re attached to the doors by cheap, easily broken off plastic fasteners.

The bad news is they’re only temporary placeholders for the steel riveted and epoxied on dealership logos.

Last edited 1 month ago by Cheap Bastard
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