The new-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI is now available to order here in the UK with prices starting at £33,460. The iconic model has returned to these shores, based on the latest Mk8 Golf and boasting what VW calls “enhanced balance” between driving dynamics and ride comfort.

Like the Golf on which it is based, the new GTI is marked out by the narrow headlights and jutting front bumper, but the go-faster model is also defined by its unique bumpers, roof spoiler and honeycomb-pattern fog lights. The look is capped off by the two chrome-plated tailpipes and 18-inch ‘Richmond’ alloy wheels.

Inside, the GTI gets the latest iteration of the classic ‘Jacara’ checked fabric, while there’s a leather-wrapped, heated sports steering wheel and an aluminium gear knob. Black Metal Chrome adorns the dashboard and door panels to add a bit of life. Standard features, meanwhile, include three-zone climate control, keyless entry and electrically heated, adjustable and foldable door mirrors with built-in puddle lights.

A range of driver assistance features crop up on the specification sheet, too, with lane-change assist, Travel Assist and Side Assist joined by Emergency Assist. A new locking front differential is also fitted to all GTIs, along with the Vehicle Dynamics Manager system, which controls the electronic differential, locking differential and optional adaptive dampers to provide a better mix of ride and handling characteristics.

The beating heart of all this is the 2-litre petrol engine, which is turbocharged to produce 241 bhp. That can be teamed with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, or you can spend an extra £1,500 to get the seven-speed automatic, which makes it marginally faster. With that transmission on board, the car will get from a standstill to 62 mph in 6.2 seconds before powering on to 155 mph.

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI

But the GTI isn’t the only new Golf going on sale this week. The order books are also opening for the latest-generation GTE, which uses plug-in hybrid power to deliver the same 241 bhp. The 1.4-litre petrol engine works alongside an electric motor and a 13 kWh battery pack, offering 32 miles of zero-emission motoring before the engine has to take over.

With the battery and motor on board, the GTE is marginally slower than the GTI to 62 mph, but only by around half a second. It is more economical, though, with official figures suggesting a 176.6 mpg thirst and 36 g/km carbon dioxide emissions.

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTE

Included in the £35,960 asking price is a blue theme across the interior and exterior, with blue GTE badges, blue Jacara check cloth and blue touches on the steering wheel. The GTE also replaces the GTI’s 18-inch alloys with smaller 17-inch rims, while the tailpipes are hidden behind the bumper.

Inside, though, you get similar equipment to the GTI, with three-zone climate control, keyless entry and electric mirrors all included. There’s a similar fleet of driver aids, too, and the same Black Metal Chrome interior trim.

Gallery: 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTE

“The Golf GTI is 45 years in the making, with numerous awards over those four-and-a-half decades under its belt and millions of fans the world over,” said Dale Piper, Golf product manager at Volkswagen UK. “The moment has come for the latest Golf GTI to open for order to UK customers. This is a key market for the Golf, and in particular for performance Golfs. With impressive acclaim from critics already, we’re confident that the new Golf GTI and, through electrification, the GTE will continue this success.”

Gallery: 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI