The German carmaker refreshed the entire lineup in 2021, three years after the car's introduction on the market. Even though the overall appearance remained the same, there were a few visual differences compared to its predecessor.
At the front, the carmaker installed a new bumper that sported LED fog lights for the GLI version. The hexagonal pattern on the grille was black and adorned by a horizontal red slat with two chromed lines. On the lower side, VW placed a black apron with additional cooling areas. In addition, a set of black door mirrors was specifically exclusively for the GLI version, while a set of 18" black, light-alloy wheels completed the car's aggressive look.
Inside, Volkswagen upgraded the infotainment system to the MIB3 level, and the carmaker spoiled the driver with a 10" digital instrument cluster. In addition, the GLI featured exclusive red stitching on the seats' upholstery on the seats, providing a sporty appearance.
The GLI was based on the MQB platform but with multi-link independent rear suspension like its less-powered siblings. Volkswagen also installed an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential, which worked together with the adaptive damping system. Its turbocharged 2.0-liter unit, with direct fuel injection, provided 228 hp. Volkswagen paired it with a standard six-speed manual transmission, while a seven-speed automatic (dual-clutch) was on the options list.