Reviewing the History of the Volkswagen Golf GTI

August 16th, 2022 by

front view of a red Golf GTI mark 2 with European plates

And Where to Find New Cars for Sale in Kansas City

Legends aren’t often created overnight. They are the result of tireless effort, years of hard work, and tons of ingenuity and creative thinking.

It’s crazy to think that we are on the eighth iteration of the VW Golf GTI. It’s one of the fastest, zippiest hatchbacks the VW brand has ever released – a true breakthrough in both engineering and design. However, it’s important to note that this particular vehicle didn’t come right out of the gate as the best. It took a lot of hard work to get to certified “whip” status.

To give old and new VW fans alike a little history lesson, here is a breakdown of the Volkswagen Golf GTI through the ages, starting with its initial release in the 1970s.

1976 – VW Golf GTI (Mark 1)

The history of the Volkswagen Golf GTI kicks off all the way back in the mid-1970s. VW wanted to release a vehicle that could compete with other speedy compacts on the market. The engineers at VW dropped in a 1.6L inline-four engine that yielded 110 horsepower with a top speed of up to 110 mph. Finally, VW had rolled out a vehicle that could keep up with an entry level Porsche. Not bad at all for a first effort.

1985 – VW Golf GTI (Mark 2)

Although it took nearly a decade for the sequel to the VW Golf GTI to be released to the public, drivers and reviewers felt it was well worth the wait. The Mk2 was given a nice little boost in performance, improving upon both the horsepower and the engine. The 16-valve version provided drivers with 137 HP.

1991 – VW Golf GTI (Mark 3)

A new decade meant a new VW Golf GTI. This time the designers and engineers over at VW gave the vehicle a sleeker, more modern feel. Additionally, the engine got a much-needed upgrade. This version of the GTI had a 2.0L inline-four engine that provided drivers with 115 hp.

1997 – VW Golf GTI (Mark 4)

The Mk4 of the VW Golf GTI line-up was one of the biggest hits so far, especially in Europe. It went on to become the best-selling vehicle of 2001 overseas. In the design department, the length of the car and the wheelbase got a slight expansion. Also, the overall curb weight was upped by approximately 200 pounds from the last iteration. The Mk4 was initially offered with two engine options: a 2.0L 4-cylinder and a 2.8L narrow-angle VR6 that yielded up to 174 horsepower. Many drivers and reviewers compared this version of the VW Golf GTI to the BMWs of that time period.

2004 – VW Golf GTI (Mark 5)

Now officially in the new millennium, Volkswagen decided to release yet another iteration of the VW Golf GTI. It had been a long time since the Mk4 had been released, and so engineers and designers did an amazing job of making this the Golf GTI to represent the new generation of drivers. This iteration used a 6-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG), which thoroughly elevated its performance from the last model of the GTI. Both drivers and reviewers loved the zippiness (146 mph top speed) along with the precision handling.

2009 – VW Golf GTI (Mark 6)

Thankfully, fans of the VW Golf GTI didn’t have to wait nearly as long for the next iteration to be released. What made the Mk6 distinct is that it had some professional oversight on the chassis development from German racing legend, Hans-Joachim Stuck. VW was adamant about making the Mk6 one of the speediest vehicles on the road. Rising to the occasion, engineers dropped in a 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder engine that yielded 210 horsepower in international markets (200 hp in the U.S.).

As if the performance upgrade weren’t enough, designers also made some considerable design upgrades that would carry through to subsequent generations of Golf GTI. Two of the main ones were the dual exhausts at the corners of the rear bumper along with the new honeycomb grill.

2013 – VW Golf GTI (Mark 7)

The seventh iteration of the VW Golf GTI was distinct because it was the first time that it was ever scaled down in size and curb weight. Its predecessors had always gone bigger and heavier. However, this didn’t mean that it was scaling down in performance. Far from it.

In addition to strengthening its build to enhance its performance and handling, VW engineers also made a variety of structural improvements. The VW Golf GTI Mk7 was a certified speed demon that could hit 60 mph in just 6.4 seconds. It also packed quite a bit of horsepower at 230 HP.

Drivers and reviewers alike loved the Mk7. In fact, it would go on to have several different variants released throughout different parts of the world.

2021 – VW Golf GTI (Mark 8)

The eighth (and current) iteration of the VW Golf GTI was originally released in 2021 and has since gone on to be one of the most well received compact vehicles Volkswagen has ever released. In another first for the VW Golf GTI lineup, the Mk8 was released in a four-door as opposed to the traditional two-door.

The Mk8 also got a complete facelift in the interior and exterior. Designers gave it a speedier, more aggressive look while the interior was given various design accents and flourishes to elevate its overall appearance. The Mk8 even includes a mood lighting feature.

Of course, no VW Golf GTI would be complete without a considerable performance upgrade, and VW engineers did this one justice by giving it 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft. of torque, making the Mk8 one of the highest performing vehicles of the year.

Ready to Shop for New Cars for Sale in Kansas City? Visit VW Lee’s Summit!

Now that you know more about the history of the VW Golf GTI, the next step is for you to get behind the wheel of one so that you can see if it lives up to the hype. Here at VW Lee’s Summit, we carry the latest iteration of a VW Golf GTI right here on our lot.

Arranging a test drive is easy. Simply visit our dealership at 2225 NE Independence Ave in Lee’s Summit, MO. You can also give us a call at (816) 282-0022 or contact us via e-mail using the contact form on our website.

Not in the market for a VW Golf? No problem!

As the leader of new cars for sale in Kansas City, we carry a wide variety of SUVs, compacts, and sedans right here on our lot. We have the luxurious and economic VW Jetta, the massive and powerful VW Atlas, and the family-friendly VW Tiguan.

Are you a current VW owner in need of routine maintenance, service, or repair? Reach out to our Volkswagen service center today to make your appointment.

Posted in Volkswagen