Volkswagen’s head of driving dynamics says the new Golf 8 GTI has been tuned to “instil confidence” in its driver rather than for “ultimate performance”.

Speaking to Car and Driver during a ride-along event, Karsten Schebsdat said the latest GTI was “very settled at speed” compared with the seventh-generation version.

"We've transferred more load stiffness to the rear, which improves balance and helps it track better," he said. "It's also extremely responsive and more stable than before."

Schebsdat suggested the Wolfsburg-based firm made a point of not tuning the new Golf GTI for “ultimate performance”.

"We didn't want a nervous-feeling car tuned for ultimate performance but one that instils confidence in the driver in every possible situation."

As a reminder, the new Golf 8 GTI was unveiled (alongside the Golf 8 GTD) at the end of February 2020, sporting fresh styling, extra power and a quicker-shifting DSG transmission.

As before, the GTI draws its urge from a version of VW’s familiar EA888 engine. Here, though, the turbocharged 2,0-litre, four-cylinder petrol unit has been tuned to deliver 180 kW (up from the SA-spec Golf 7 GTI’s peak output of 169 kW) and 370 N.m (some 20 N.m more than the outgoing model).

In May 2020, VW South Africa confirmed the local launch of the new Golf 8 GTI had been pushed back to 2021.