Making its big debut in North American-spec at the New York Auto Show, Volkswagen's all-new MkVII GTI will be lighter, quicker, faster, more fuel-efficient, and better-handling than the model it replaces, already our top choice for FWD sport compacts. Only you'll have to wait at least a year to drive one out of the dealership.
Volkswagen has stated that the new GTI will be at least 220 lbs. lighter than the current 2013 GTI, which tips the scales at 3,034 lbs. in 2-door form. Couple that with a more-powerful (210 horses and 258 lb-ft. of torque, to be exact) and higher-revving 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine of VW's new-generation four-banger family, plus traditional manual and DSG dual-sequential auto/manual transmissions, and you have a recipe for some serious hot hatch fun.
The clean-sheet new design is certainly attractive, but we can't help but wish for a little more flair that it seems to be missing. Differentiated from the MkVII Golf mostly by a sportier front-end treatment, the GTI looks a little subdued for our tastes, but not quite in a luxury car way.
This is subjective, of course, and others are already filling their piggy banks for the day when the GTI will finally hit U.S. dealers in late Spring/early Summer 2014, more than a year after the Euro-spec car goes on sale. Pricing should start at around $25,000.