After writing about the Golf Mk1 previously and how it proudly takes its place as one of the favourite classic cars that people love, we got to thinking about the rest of the range from Volkswagen. This is what led us to talking about the Golf GTI and the journey that this variant of the category is continuing to go through.

With this in mind, we thought we’d take you through some of the incumbents of the Golf GTI range, all of which are strong performers and hard to sniff your nose at, particularly if you’re a car enthusiast.

First generation

The Golf GTI was originally a hot hatch that was introduced as an alternative to the Golf Mk1 in 1976. As the first was designed to be a reliable and small family car, the GTI version was intended to be an exciting performer for those who wanted more from the model.

Golf MKI

Unlike the standard Mk1, there seems to be more of the GTI variant available on the market, but you might still have a bit of a search on your hands if you want one that’s in a ready-to-drive condition. In terms of performance, you can expect one of the first-generation models to manage a 0-60mph sprint in just over eight seconds, with a top speed of 112mph.

Golf MKI 2

Third Generation

The GTI badge would skip over the second generation and go straight ahead to the third-generation Golf. Engines for this variant of the model included the first-ever Turbocharged Direct Injection Diesel unit to be found on a Golf.

Golf MKIII 2

The Mk3 of the Golf, with the GTI badge was sold between 1991 and 1999, but you can still find them zipping around the roads to this day.

Fifth generation, it comes alive

The fifth generation of the Golf is when the GTI badge really started coming into its own, largely thanks to being powered by a turbocharged version of the 2.0-litre TFSI engine. It was with this Mk5 that Volkswagen really introduced the idea that this model could be seen as a hatchback capable of impressive performance.

Golf MKV Front

Later on in the production of the Mk5, a new 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine was introduced with front-wheel drive. A variant called the Golf Plus was also launched in 2004, which was basically the same as the Mk5 in terms of performance but it was larger and had higher roofline.

Golf MKV Rear

VW Golf GTI W12

It was in 2007 that VW decided to build a concept based on the Mk5 model, which featured a huge 6.0-litre W12 engine that it took from a Bentley Continental GT and paired with a VW Phaeton Gearbox.


The unit powering the model was twin-turbocharged and had some cheeky fine tuning to see it produce an overall output of 641bhp. With this engine, the car managed to sprint from 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds.

GTI W12 2

This suped-up versions of the Mk5 also carried a six-speed automatic gearbox and the bodywork of the car was modified a fair bit, so it could comfortably carry the massive engine. VW manufacturers made this change so there would be more space obviously, but it was also to improve the model’s handling.

What GTI can I buy now?

There are a couple of options available to you and you should know that the Golf GTI is still considered one of the best hot hatches there is on the market. There’s a standard 217bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine that Autoexpress says is much better for performance over your standard Golf and we would tend to agree with that.

Golf GTI

If you prefer more from your model though you can choose the Performance Pack, which gets you an extra 10bhp, larger brakes and and an electronically-controlled mechanical limited-slip differential. You can also enjoy the GTI Clubsport, which boasts an output of 286bhp, which has improvements to aerodynamics and performance – although it sits under the VW Golf R in terms of speed.

Der neue Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport

GTI Racer

Never content with leaving the Golf alone for too long, Volkswagen has just revealed the racing version of the GTI that will compete in the TCR touring car championship this year. Powering the production car is an uprated engine, which produces 325bhp and 410Nm of torque, which is an improvement over the R model.

Autodesk VRED Professional 2014 SR1-SP7

Unfortunately, only 20 of this model will be produced and all of them have already been sold off to private racing teams, but you can catch up with it throughout the 2016 TCR series between April and May.

GTI Racer 2

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4 Responses

  1. Nick Andrews

    “The GTI badge would skip over the second generation and go straight ahead to the third-generation Golf. ”
    Mmmm, so who made my MK2 GTI? What a crap article!

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