Interior design and technology – VW Golf GTI

Iinside story

The desire for spacious interiors, always synonymous with luxury, drives interior designers to use new combinations of electronic and mechanical functions to modify or relocate pre-existing systems such as heating/cooling and audio installations. In terms of controls, touchscreens offer space-saving possibilities, but designers face the problem of distracting the driver’s attention. The latest generation Golf GTI seems to have struck the right balance.

The central ten-inch touchscreen with web connection is coupled to a second driver display located on the other side of the steering wheel and linked by a reconfigurable instrument cluster. Although it is not a transparent panel, it presents driver-critical information and infotainment well.

Compared to the previous generation, many interior buttons and switches have been removed and replaced with sliders and touchscreens for all major functions. Some of these functions can also be controlled via voice recognition and/or steering wheel controls.

Below the center touchscreen is a strip of touchpads to control the radio volume and cabin temperature. And further down are slimmer, smoother air vents that further accentuate the minimalist cockpit.

The GTI interior is distinguished by red decorative stitching on the seats, center armrest, floor mats and multifunction steering wheel. The sports steering wheel is in perforated leather at 9 and 3 o’clock. The steering wheel clip at 6 o’clock is personalized with GTI lettering and red accents. Paddles on the steering wheel facilitate manual intervention in the otherwise automatic gear changes of the 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox (DSG).

Continuing the boy-racer theme, the multifunction sports steering wheel has also been designed with a red applique and the GTI badge. Another typical feature of the Golf GTI is the honeycomb pattern on the dashboard and the door trims. The new engine start/stop button is standard on the Golf GTI. Once the doors are open, it flashes red until the engine starts.

The standard ArtVelours covers for the manually adjustable sports seats (with integrated head restraints) have also been redesigned. Door inserts are finished with ArtVelours trim covers.

Other interior highlights include mood lighting which can be set to one of 30 colours. The chosen color illuminates the decorative trim on the instrument panel, door trim and storage areas, front footrests and center storage compartment. The digital instruments and the infotainment system also adopt the selected background color. In addition to individual colors, pre-configured lighting profiles can be selected by simply touching a “mood menu”: for example, “Infinity” for a warm orange or “Desire” for a cool blue tint.


Connectivity-wise, the car-to-car wireless communication features on the GTI. Car2X allows the car to exchange information between other vehicles and the traffic infrastructure. It uses a European-standard network valid for all car manufacturers so that vehicles of different brands can exchange data on dangers on the road, such as broken down vehicles, traffic jams or the approach of emergency services. Strict European rules are in place regarding this data, allowing it to be sent anonymously and not captured or stored by anyone.

All GTI models are equipped as standard with an infotainment system providing access to online mobile services. Using Volkswagen’s We Connect system as an interface, compatible Samsung smartphones are able to function as the “key” to the Golf via the We Connect app. Via their mobile phone, owners can unlock, lock and start the car. No connection to the mobile network is required to use the smartphone as a mobile key. Owners simply place their smartphone near the door handle, the same way the Keyless Access lock and start system opens the vehicle. Once inside, placing the smartphone in the center console (in the storage compartment with a mobile phone interface) allows the car to be started.

Voice command

Speech recognition is seen by some as the answer to eliminating many commands that were traditionally operated manually. Voice can play an important role in a multi-modal human-machine interface (HMI) solution to input information or to cut through layers of menus by directly requesting a function.

Traditional voice control centered around a set of fixed commands with catatonic responses that required some level of driver training before using the system. With the advent of new low-power, high-performance microprocessors, more intelligent voice control engines linked to HMI logic are now available. Even natural language and parsing becomes more feasible.

The GTI’s voice command feature demonstrates its usefulness for activating certain functions. It is activated by saying “Hello Volkswagen” or by pressing a button on the steering wheel. He responds with “Yes, please?” or “What would you like to do?” and reacts to voice commands, such as “Go to [destination]or “I’m cold”. It also does a fairly good job of locating whoever is talking, whether that’s the driver or the front passenger. For example, the passenger could request that their heated seat be turned on and the system would recognize this and only activate the passenger heated seat.

Gesture control

If you like the idea of ​​talking to your car to operate various functions, the Golf lets you wave and sweep it. This means that the infotainment system menus can be accessed with a simple swipe of the driver’s or passenger’s hand. A swipe gesture moves horizontally arranged menu items to the left or right. This allows the driver to scroll through the main menu, change radio stations, scroll forwards or backwards through the playlist, or browse the picture viewer and music albums.

It looks good

Another option is the 480-watt Harman Kardon audio system with a 12-channel Ethernet amplifier and ten speakers. With a tweeter in the A-pillars and rear door trim, and a woofer in the front and rear door trim panels on each side of the vehicle, the package delivers excellent sound quality . A center speaker, meanwhile, is added to the dashboard at the front, with a large subwoofer built into the spare wheel well.

Advanced driver assistance systems

After debuting in 2019 on the Passat, Travel Assist is now available on the Golf, enabling Level 2 driving automation that can accelerate, brake and steer for you on the motorways.

The feature combines the functions of existing systems such as Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC, see below) and Lane Assist Lane Keeping System. The system now recognizes curbs and grass edges in addition to painted lines on the road. It is activated using the multifunction steering wheel while for legal and safety reasons the driver must constantly monitor the system, i.e. he must have at least one hand on the steering wheel. Thanks to capacitive sensor technology in the steering wheel, the driver only has to touch the steering wheel. If the system calculates that they have let go for more than 15 seconds, visual and audible warning signals are triggered plus a jolt of braking to act as a warning to regain control. The driver must react at this point and touch the steering wheel, otherwise the emergency assistance is activated and the car comes to a stop.

The automaker’s third and latest generation ACC is now predictive, automatically adjusting speed for permanent and temporary speed limits, as well as slowing for junctions and turns. It is powered by both GPS and road sign recognition. This means that the system calculates the position of the Golf based on the route and GPS data from the navigation system to reduce its speed before reaching curves, roundabouts, intersections, speed limits and agglomerations. At the same time, the ACC accesses the dynamic display of traffic signs via the front camera and adjusts the speed as soon as a limit is detected.

It is undeniably pleasant to drive but comfortable and practical to live with on a daily basis. Above all, it has the interior feel and quality we’ve come to expect from VW. Rival models in the hot hatchback camp include the Honda Civic Type R and Ford Focus ST.