Evolution of the Iconic Volkswagen Golf GTI

Added: 09 October 2017

The First Volkswagen GTI

  • MKI - 1974–1983
  • MKII - 1983–1992
  • MKIII - 1991–1998
  • MKIV - 1997–2003
  • MKV - 2003–2009
  • MKVI - 2008–2013
  • MKVII - 2012-present

Volkswagen Golf Mk VII
For just over four decades the VW GTI has been the bench mark for performance car fans the world over and has well and truly secured its place in motoring history. First launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1975 the Volkswagen GTI was a tuned up version of the standard Golf, which had already been on sale in Europe for about a year. The GTI was the basic Mk I Golf with a 1588cc four-cylinder engine with the new K-Jetronic fuel injection system, which achieved 110ps, not much by today’s standards! However, as the car weighed less than 1,800 lbs, its power to weight ratio enabled a sprint from 0 to 60 mph in about nine seconds, very impressive for the 1970’s. The GTI provided the performance and fun of a traditional sports car but with the practicality of a family car, and the rest as they say, is ‘history’. Because of its affordability the Mk I GTI became an instant hit across the world, including the US where it debuted in 1983 as the Rabbit GTI!

Evolution not Revolution

Volkswagen took an evolutionary approach when it introduced the MkII with few major changes and the car was immediately recognizable as a modernised Golf GTI, a winning formula they have followed ever since. Upgrades included 1.8L and 2.0L 16-valve engines, and even a supercharged version. While the Mk II GTI achieved strong sales it also faced increased competition from other European models, most notably the Peugeot 105 GTI, as well as those from Japan. The competition was something that VW took into consideration when it announced the third generation GTI in 1991, a slightly roomier body with the same unmistakable look that was to define Volkswagen’s best-selling model. Now with an engine line-up that included a more powerful 2.0 ltr DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder engine which produced an impressive 150ps and also a 2.8 ltr VR6. The VR6 quickly won over the plaudits with its smooth power and distinct exhaust note, even though it was thirstier than the four-cylinder engines.

Golf GTI Diesel

The fourth generation of the Golf GTI appeared in 1997 and saw a diesel engine variant for the first time, together with high end GTI GLX trim. Also making its debut was the new 180ps 20-valve 1.8L turbo, signalling the way of GTIs to come. Later, a 25th anniversary model of the GTI was introduced in 2002, a special edition which was set apart from the standard GTI with interior and exterior upgrades. In 2004 the fifth generation appeared at the Paris motor show and from a styling aspect the new GTI was a big leap forward from the Mk IV, featuring a distinct front end and a return to the red trim seen on the Mk I. Mechanically the Mk V was a radical new design and saw the most changes in the history of the car. Powering the car was just one engine, a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder that produced 200ps, a far cry from the 110ps back in 1975. In 2009 the sixth generation of the GTI, essentially a refined version of its predecessor, continued where the Mk V left off bringing more refinements to the interior, exterior, engine and transmission while keeping the aesthetic appearance. The evolutionary approach proved a success with the Mk VI GTI taking receiving the same praise and accolades that were given to the Mk V.

Volkswagen Golf Mk VII

This brings us up to present day and the seventh and most recent episode in the GTI story. While the Mk VII GTI doesn’t appear radically different from the Mk VI it is based on the new MQB platform, which also underpins a number of other VW Audi Group cars, a practice very common among all motor vehicle manufacturers these days. Though slightly larger than previous GTI’s the Mk VII is lighter than before and the 2.0L TSI engine now produces more power with an optional performance pack, enhancing performance even more.

Contact Heritage Volkswagen

For more information regarding the availability of the new Volkswagen Golf GTI in Avon, Dorset & Somerset contact us here at Heritage Volkswagen to arrange a test drive today.