- In 1975 VW presented the first GTI. Initially, a small series of 5000 pieces was planned.
- The Golf GTI turns 45
- Too early:The first Golf GTD
- The continuation: The Golf GTE
In 1975 VW presented the first GTI. Initially, a small series of 5000 pieces was planned.
The Golf GTI turns 45
The compact sports car has now become a whole family.
When Volkswagen introduced the first GTI in 1975, just shortly after the introduction of the Golf in 1974, the concept of the car was by no means a revolution. Ford already had a similar model on offer with the Escort RS2000, as did Opel with the Kadett GT/E.
Nevertheless, the GTI impressed from the start: the smaller Golf drew its 110 hp from significantly less displacement than its competitors and weighed significantly less with an unladen weight of 810 kg, which helped it to achieve very good, sporty driving performance. Nevertheless, right from the start the GTI wanted to build a concept that was also suitable for everyday use. This was underlined by advertising messages such as “to go shopping at walking speed without jerks”..
And the concept worked: 74,380 of the Golf I GTI and Golf II GTI, which offered 1.8 instead of the previous 1.6 liters from 1984, were sold between 1976 and 1987 – in Switzerland alone. In Germany there were more than 270,000 pieces. A success that nobody could have foreseen: the Golf GTI was originally intended as a special model in a limited edition of 5000 units. This was mainly due to the fact that the GTI was not planned: the concept came from the pen of a few engineers and marketing staff around the then press officer Anton Konrad, after Alfons Lowenberg, an employee in the test department, first suggested the idea of a sporty, inexpensive vehicle. Without the knowledge of the VW board, the engineers developed a prototype. This convinced the then board member Werner Schmidt so much that he approved a further development.
The first Golf GTD
In 1982, a year before the Golf II GTI was presented, Volkswagen introduced the first GTD. The turbo diesel achieved 69 hp – the name GTD, however, fell into oblivion for the time being: the first models were not great successes, the price was too high, and the concept of a sporty diesel was too unknown. From the Golf III onwards, the powerful diesels were once again called GT TDI and GTI TDI. The same happened to the petrol-powered GTI models of the third model generation: they didn’t lose their names, but they did lose their exclusivity. Golf III GTI and Golf IV GTI were just model variants whose engines were also installed in other versions of the Golf.
Nevertheless, the abbreviation “GTI” stuck in people’s minds. Although there were also more powerful Golf models over time, such as the VR6 and later the R32, the three letters remained synonymous with the most powerful Golf. So it was no wonder that VW continued the tradition and offered a separate engine for the GTI from the Golf V onwards. From the Golf VI there was also the GTD again, now with 170 hp from a 2.0 L turbo diesel. As a result, the sporty compacts continued to establish themselves, and not least thanks to numerous special models, there was an increasing number of die-hard fans who appreciated the mixture of everyday car and sportiness.
The Golf GTE
It was therefore not surprising that Volkswagen wanted to continue the success story of these models in 2014 by launching the first Golf plug-in hybrid as the “GTE”. With a system output of 204 hp, the hybrid achieved similar performance values as the classic GTI and also managed up to 50 km purely electrically.
Over the years, the once successful model has grown into a whole family whose success story continues: almost 5,000 Golf VII GTI cars were sold in Switzerland alone. Building on this, VW is now presenting the eighth and latest generation of these successful models, just in time for the canceled Geneva Motor Show: the Golf VIII GTI, GTD and GTE. In their latest version, the GTI and GTE both produce 245 hp, as much as the last generation GTI Performance model. With 200 hp, the GTD traditionally delivers a little less, but wants to impress with a longer range and lower consumption.
Based on the red radiator grille frame of the first GTI, the latest models also have colored crossbars that set them apart from the other engines: red for the GTI, blue for the GTE and silver for the GTD: An important visual distinction that only exists with the ” watered down” Golf III and IV GTI did not exist. A mistake from which one has learned. After all, the sporty version of the compact wants to stand out from the normal Golf despite its suitability for everyday use. The latest generation goes one step further: wider side skirts, red painted brake calipers and a striking front spoiler and rear diffuser speak a clearly sporty design language. Despite a modern, digital cockpit, the interior is also committed to history: a three-spoke steering wheel and checked pattern on the seats are reminiscent of the GTI history.
Despite the now strong competition, such as the Mercedes A35 AMG and the Hyundai i30 N, the success story of the GTI family will certainly continue: Unlike its competitors, the Golf can look back on a long, traditional history that has brought it many enthusiasts. They are eagerly awaiting the market launch of the eighth generation at the end of the year, but they can already order all three models in the summer. The prices are yet to be announced – for comparison: a Golf GTI Performance with 245 hp previously cost 45,150 francs, the GTE started at 46,650 francs and the GTD cost 38,950 francs when it was launched in 2013.
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