THE Volkswagen Golf GTI has a storied history that spans nearly half a century, and it holds a special place in the hearts of automotive enthusiasts. Now, after almost 48 years since the debut of the first Golf GTI model in Germany, Volkswagen is ushering in a new era with the introduction of the first all-electric performance hatchback from the brand.
Volkswagen has confirmed that the new ID GTI Concept is built upon the MEB platform, featuring front-wheel drive, and it is slated for eventual production. However, Volkswagen has not officially announced the exact timeline or the manufacturing location for the production version of the ID GTI Concept.
The evolution of the “GTI” acronym in the ID GTI Concept is a notable departure from its traditional meaning. In this context, the “I” in “GTI” stands for “intelligence” instead of “injection.” This change reflects the incorporation of advanced onboard technology, notably the Vehicle Dynamics Manager (VDM) computer. The ID GTI Concept will also feature an electronically controlled front-axle differential lock, a technology borrowed from the current-generation Golf.
The VDM plays a pivotal role by enabling the adjustment of various driving characteristics to emulate the driving feel of historic Golf and GTI models. This includes modifying the drive system, running gear, steering, sound, and even simulating shift points to recreate the driving experiences of iconic GTI models from the past. This innovative approach allows drivers to enjoy the characteristics of legendary GTI models like the original 1976 Golf GTI, the first 16-valve Golf GTI Mark 2 from 1986, or the 2001 Golf GTI Mark 4 ’25 years of GTI’. It’s a nod to the heritage of the GTI lineup while embracing modern technology and intelligence in the driving experience.
The ID GTI Concept proudly carries the distinctive visual cues that are synonymous with the GTI brand. It features the signature red nose line and GTI badging, instantly recognizable to enthusiasts. At the front, a striking light bar illuminates behind the VW badge, adding a modern touch to the classic design. The design is further accentuated by red tow points, a honeycomb-style intake reminiscent of the fifth-generation GTI, and a black front splitter.
The rear of the ID GTI Concept features several distinctive design elements. A black roof spoiler adds a sporty and aerodynamic touch, while black “air guides” positioned at the sides of the rear window contribute to the overall design. The rear is further enhanced by a wide LED third brake light that spans across the top, providing a modern and attention-grabbing detail.
To pay homage to the original GTI, the concept incorporates some visual tricks with blackened elements at the rear. These elements evoke the look of the original GTI’s black window surround and bumper, creating a nostalgic and evocative connection to the heritage of the GTI brand.
The ID GTI Concept rides on 20-inch aluminium alloy wheels fitted with 245/35 performance tires. The wheel design pays homage to iconic GTI models of the past. The eight double-spoke polished black wheels draw inspiration from the Pirelli rim of the Mark 1 Golf GTI and the Denver rim from the Golf GTI Mark 5. These wheels are framed by matte black wheel arches, creating a visually dynamic and heritage-inspired appearance for the concept.
One of the advantages of electric platforms like the MEB is their efficient use of interior space. Despite its compact exterior dimensions, the ID.2 and, consequently, the ID GTI Concept, aim to provide interior space comparable to that of a traditional Golf, showcasing the packaging efficiency inherent to electric vehicle platforms.
The interior of the ID GTI Concept incorporates familiar elements while embracing modern technology. One notable change is the inclusion of a column shifter, and to maintain the GTI heritage, the golfball effect has been applied to the multifunction GTI Experience Control located in the center console. This control system manages various driving profiles, allowing drivers to tailor their driving experience.
The digital cockpit and dashboard are highly configurable, offering a range of options to suit the driver’s preferences. Additionally, there’s a “Vintage” mode that replicates the instrumentation of a Mark 2 Golf GT, providing a nostalgic touch for enthusiasts and harking back to the classic GTI styling of the past. These design choices reflect a blend of heritage and modernity in the interior of the ID GTI Concept.
The ID GTI Concept introduces a new augmented reality head-up display (AR HUD) that offers a range of innovative features. This AR HUD has the capability to project information for both the driver and the passenger, enhancing the overall driving experience. One notable feature is the ability to display the driving track you are currently on, such as the iconic Nürburgring in Germany. Moreover, the AR HUD can provide real-time positioning information during a race, adding a dynamic and interactive element to the driving experience.
Volkswagen also mentions an upgrade for the infotainment system in the form of a new 12.9-inch touchscreen display which features the inclusion of physical, illuminated controls for functions like air conditioning and volume. This addition is likely to enhance user-friendliness and convenience, addressing some of the feedback from previous ID models and providing a more tactile and intuitive interface for drivers and passengers.
The ordinary ID.2 is slated to be on sale in Europe in 2026, while the GTI version is anticipated to arrive the following year. Although the GTI Concept provides an enticing glimpse of what’s to come, potential customers will have to wait a little while longer until these electric vehicles are made commercially accessible.