(from Volkswagen Press
Release) 1975 2008: THE HISTORY OF THE GOLF GTI
The Volkswagen Golf GTI was unveiled in 1975 at the Frankfurt Motor
Show. The UK market had to wait a further two years for vehicles to
arrive 1977 saw 34 examples, all of them left hand drive, sold in
the GTIs first tentative year.
The GTI was powered by a 1,588 cc four cylinder engine with K-Jetronic
fuel injection it developed 110 PS at 6,100 rpm and 103 lbs ft of
torque at 5,000 rpm. This allowed the GTI, which weighed 810 kg
unladen, to hit 60 mph from standstill in nine-seconds before
reaching a top speed of 110 mph.
The now familiar mix of a high-revving, responsive four-cylinder
engine installed in a hatchback body with the emphasis on driving
fun was linked to a pared down interior came as a revelation at the
time. Especially when combined with tartan trim and the now iconic
golf ball gearshift.
The car was an instant hit. By the time right-hand drive cars
arrived in the UK in 1979 a total of 1,573 cars were sold in that
year, a number that would triple within two years.
In 1984 the Mk II GTI was launched and picked up where the Mk I left
off. A new chassis structure, a 1,781 cc engine developing 112 PS
and 114 lbs ft of torque and new styling evolved the GTI and saw it
appeal to a new generation of fans. Sales of the Mk II GTI surpassed
those of the Mk I, peaking at 17,193 vehicles in 1989. In Germany a
supercharged G60 version developing 160 PS was sold, an output that
wouldnt be bettered in a GTI until 2002.
Three years later the Mk III GTI was launched, bringing with it a
new 2.0-litre eight-valve engine and improved aerodynamics over the
previous Mk I and Mk II models. In 1993 the GTI fitted was with a
2.0-litre 16-valve engine, raising the power output from 115 PS in
the eight-valve model up to a more substantial 150 PS and 133 lbs ft
of torque to drop the 0-60 mph time to 8.3 seconds and raise the top
speed to 133 mph.
The introduction of the Mk IV GTI in 1998 saw significant changes to
the line-up with the first diesel-engined GTI introduced along with
two petrol engines in a total of four different states of tune. The
Mk IV GTI made significant gains in refinement and safety in 2002
the fastest accelerating and most powerful GTI produced up until
that point was released in the form of the 180 PS GTI 25th
Anniversary Edition. It was the success of this more powerful
vehicle that inspired the introduction of the Mk V GTI.
Launched in September 2004 at the Paris Motor Show the Mk V GTI
equipped with a 200 PS engine was not only the most powerful but
also the most focused GTI yet produced. A new 2.0-litre T-FSI engine
linked to a six-speed gearbox and standard Electronic Stabilisation
Programme (ESP) were linked to a new chassis equipped with
MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link configuration at the
rear. The vehicle was 15 mm lower than the standard Golf on new
springs, dampers and anti-roll bars.
Visual cues were taken from the original GTI with the return of the
tartan interior and the red surround to the grille element even
the GTI typeface used on the badge echoed that of the original.
The Mk V GTI served as a basis for two special editions the
Pirelli and Edition 30. Both models were powered by an evolution of
the 2.0-litre T-FSI engine fitted to the conventional GTI, albeit
both producing 230 PS.
The wildest GTI ever created the GTI W12-650 was also based on
the Mk V. Powered by a mid-mounted 6.0-litre W12 engine producing
650 PS the vehicle could accelerate to 62 mph in 3.7-seconds and
could theoretically achieve a maximum speed of 201 mph.
Production of the Mk V Golf ceased in August 2008 with a total of
17,630 examples sold in the UK alone. In total over 1,700,000
examples of the GTI have been sold worldwide since the vehicle went
on sale in 1976.
Key Facts: Golf GTI Mk I Mk V
Mk I: 1977 1984
1.6-litre 110 PS
1977 first UK registration
1979 first right-hand drive cars go on sale
Total UK Mk I GTI sales: 19,518
Mk II: 1984
1.8-litre 112 PS
1986 1.8-litre 139 PS 16-valve engine launched
1989 introduction of big bumpers
November 1990 1,000,000th Golf GTI is produced
Total UK Mk II GTI sales: 88,278
Mk III: 1992
2.0-litre 115 PS
1993 2.0-litre 16-valve 150 PS engine introduced
Total UK Mk III GTI sales: 39,766
Mk IV: 1998
1.8-litre 125 PS
1.8-litre turbo 150 PS
1999 2.0-litre 115 PS is introduced
2002 1.8-litre turbo 180 PS and 1.9-litre GTI PD 150 PS
Total UK Mk IV GTI sales: 46,944
Mk V: 2004 2008
2.0-litre 200 PS T-FSI
January 2007 30th anniversary of the GTI marked by the launch
of 2.0-litre 230 PS GTI Edition 30
May 2007 six-litre bi-turbo 650 PS GTI W12-650 design study
unveiled the most powerful Golf ever produced by Volkswagen
June 2007 GTI R-Line claims eighth place overall and class
victory at Nurburgring 24-hour race
May 2008 2.0-litre T-FSI 230 PS GTI Pirelli launched to
commemorate 25th anniversary of the original Mk I variant
August 2008 production of the Mk V GTI ceases
Total UK Mk V GTI sales to date: 17,630