VW reinvents the GTI for an electric age

Ginny Buckley

5 Sep 2023

The car that inspired my lifelong love affair with cars was the Mark 1 Golf GTI and Volkswagen has reinvented the GTI for a new electric era, 48 years after the first Golf GTI made its debut. The new ID.GTI Concept is based on the ID.2 first seen in March and is the first all-electric model to wear the badge. The brand had previously suggested that the GTI badge would be replaced by GTX on electric models – but this will be kept for high-performance cars with all-wheel-drive.

Where the ‘I’ previously stood for Injection, VW claims it is now representing ‘Intelligence’ for the “most intelligent solutions in the sports car world”. Just like the ID.2all, the ID.GTI Concept is more than just a show car – the company says production has already been confirmed.

Official details of the powertrain are sketchy, but even the standard version of the ID. 2all concept claimed to have a surprisingly powerful 223bhp motor driving the front wheels. Volkswagen claims a 0-62mph time of under seven seconds and a top speed of 100mph. Both are expected to be boosted for production versions of the GTI.

The concept has been revealed 48 years after the original Golf GTI was unveiled

To ensure the power can be delivered without traction issues, the GTI uses an electronically controlled front-axle differential lock, as used just like in the current generation of Golf GTI.

Using a newly developed GTI Experience Control on the centre console, the driver can adjust the drive system, running gear, steering, sound experience and even the simulated gear shift points so they replicate historical GTI models – such as the Golf GTI I from 1976, the first Golf GTI II 16V from 1986 or the Mk4 Golf GTI Anniversary from 2001.

The interior can be configured to hark back to the classic models too. Digital displays inside the ID.2 can be changed to the preference of the driver, with options including a ‘Vintage Mode’ which transforms the instruments to look like a classic Golf GTI’s. This is selected using the ‘Experience Control’ which even mimics the golf ball gear knob of the classic GTI.

The new car is 4,104 mm long, compared to the first Golf's 3,705mm

The car is underpinned by a smaller version of the Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform, officially called MEB Entry, which will be used across the Volkswagen Group. This means we can also expect to see sporty versions of small electric cars from Cupra and Skoda.

Although the ID. GTI is considered a small car by modern standards, it’s bigger than that classic Golf from 48 years ago. The new car is 4,104 mm long, compared to 3,705mm, and features 20-inch alloys – 7 inches bigger than its ancestor. The ID. GTI Concept has Diamond Silver Metallic paintwork, a colour from the first-generation Golf GTI along with another class GTI colour, Mars Red.

Unlike the first GTI, the ID. GTI Concept is a five-door car, and promises surpising practicality. The boot is a massive 490 litres – compare that the 200 litres of the new MINI Electric.

There is no word on prices, but the standard ID.2 is expected to cost around £25,000. This would mean a £30,000 level for the GTI would seem likely when the car goes on sale in late 2025. 

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