• The Golf 8 GTI uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that produces 180kW and 370Nm.
• Local introduction is set for the third quarter of 2021.
• The first Golf GTI was launched in 1976.
• For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24.
Hot hatches don't come more iconic than Volkswagen's Golf GTI.
South Africa received all generations besides the first one and is patiently waiting for the local introduction of the eighth offering, set to launch in the third quarter of 2021.
The latest version is the fastest to date, sporting a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that produces 180kW and 370Nm - almost a whole 100kW powerful than the first-ever example.
A performance icon
Performance models from other automakers like Peugeot, Suzuki and Toyota all once had their own GTI models, but the birthplace of the famous three letters undoubtedly comes from Wolfsburg.
Do you think the eighth-generation Golf GTI will continue in the rich legacy like its predecessor? Email us, or share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Just by seeing the amount of GTI's as opposed to normal-specced ones, South Africans aren't afraid of price tags, and there is every indication that the new offering will continue to prosper locally.
As local petrolheads wait for the much-anticipated arrival of the eighth-generation Golf GTI in SA later this year, here are a few things to know about the iconic hatch.
GTI engine with four cylinders
The GTI still relies on a four-cylinder petrol engine. This started in 1976 as an 81kW injection engine, but now the new version has more than double the power – 180kW. The first-generation Golf went from 0 to 100km/h in 9.2-seconds, with a top speed of 182km/h. Back then, mid-range saloons struggled to hit the 160km/h mark. The new GTI runs out of steam with an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h
Unique rim design for each GTI generation
The combination of tyres and rims on a car represents the critical connecting factor ensuring optimal transfer of drive performance to the road. The optics are essential, with almost 50% of the overall appearance being attributed to the rims - the GTI has had plenty over the decades.
5 000 Golf GTIs were planned, and more than 2.3-million have been constructed
Anton Konrad, then head of the press department at Volkswagen, says: "We were aiming for a sporty series Volkswagen with a bit of understatement. We planned to construct 5 000 of these cars that you could use to go shopping or drive on the racetrack. The sales department was not particularly optimistic ahead of the IAA 1975: "We won't even sell 500 of these GTIs." Ultimately, it was not 500 Golf GTIs that were sold, but more than 2.3-million.
European aesthetics combined with comfort
Star designer Giorgetto Giugiaro created the appearance of the Golf in Turin. Herbert Schäfer, design director at the time, installed the legendary red GTI trim strip in Wolfsburg. In contrast, the iconic checked design was produced by the first woman in the Volkswagen design department – Gunhild Liljequist. Visiting London on a journey around Great Britain proved inspirational for her.
Black was sporty enough, but she was looking for a second colour with a powerful, sophisticated effect – and settled on red. The golf ball design for the gear knob on the 4-speed transmission was also her idea. This still graces the 6-speed gearbox in the eighth-generation Golf GTI. You also have the option of ordering the car with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and shift-by-wire.
Legendary three-spoke 'spittoon steering wheel'
The GTI now has a new multifunction sports steering wheel, with touch controls, perforated leather and GTI clasp. The first GTI already had a three-spoke steering wheel of similar style: fans affectionately dubbed it the 'spittoon steering wheel' – as the Wolfsburg logo was located in a deep recess – and it remains a collectors' item to this day.
Golf GTI Cabrio
On the Golf GTI Cabrio, the electrohydraulic system opened the soft top in 9.5-seconds, requiring eleven seconds to close it at a speed of 30km/h. With the roof closed, it was possible to reach 237km/h. The GTI Cabrio was even officially referred to as the 'most powerful open Volkswagen' in the months before it was discontinued. Of course, the Porsche 918 Spyder or the Lamborghini Huracán Spyder were the most powerful cars that the Group produced. Still, after the Golf R Cabrio production ceased, the Golf GTI Cabrio was the fastest car without a roof to come out of Wolfsburg.
2012 heralds a meeting of two global brands – in the Golf GTI Adidas
To quote the brochure: "Your personal trainer recommends 30-minutes of exercise every day. It's lucky he didn't tell you what to exercise with." You had to be quick out of the blocks in 2012 to secure a Golf GTI Adidas from the limited edition of 4 410. You could then settle into one of the sports seats embroidered with the 'Adidas' logo, with those three famous stripes running down the middle.
The first GTI to communicate
The current model is the first VW production vehicle to be equipped with Car2X communication. Other cars use a WLAN connection to warn you of impending danger, such as the end of a traffic jam or a hazardous area, in milliseconds. The innovative Vehicle Dynamics Manager takes performance to the next level. It means that the Golf GTI is not just a sports car but also allows you to benefit from improved safety features. As a side fact, a modern VW contains ten times the amount of software you would find in an up-to-date mobile phone.