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Volkswagen ID. GTI revealed

EV hot-hatch concept is “90 per cent” of the finished product.

4 Sep 2023


VOLKSWAGEN has taken the covers off a new concept electric hatchback - the ID. GTI.


Those three letters are important in the history of the Volkswagen brand, with the first Golf GTI having launched way back in 1976. And now, almost 50 years later, the brand is set to take the GTI badge in a very different direction, with confirmation of production intent for an electric GTI hatch in the very near future.


The ID. GTI concept builds upon the ID. 2ALL hatchback that was unveiled less than half a year ago, and uses the same MEB Small architecture. That means it has the most important dynamic hallmark of a GTI product - front-wheel drive - but it will be a pure electric model when production begins.

Details on what the powertrain specs may include are still a long way from being revealed, but on the very same front-wheel drive platform the VW Group has previously showcased the Cupra UrbanRebel prototype with a front-mounted electric motor with up to 320kW of peak power available, and a 0-100km/h claim of just 3.2 seconds.


The ID. GTI has been described as a moment for “marking the next chapter in the iconic GTI legacy”, and Volkswagen head of design, Andreas Mindt, told GoAuto at the company’s Group Night ahead of IAA Mobility 2023 in Munich, that the concept is very close to what a production model will look like.


“I would say 90 per cent. Maybe 93,” he laughed. “No, but it’s very close to what we want to show,” Mr Mindt said, before stating that some of the exaggerations that may not carry over to the production model include the arch-filling 20-inch wheels (that are designed to hark back to the steel rims of the original GTI hatch), as well as the track width and aggressively low front bumper.


The two concept models shown were finished in iconic GTI colours - Diamond Silver, which is the same hue used on the first 1976 Golf GTI, and Mars Red, which was the first red option, and has become a staple of the range in decades since.


Mr Mindt said the five-door hatchback design was a vital change from the heritage three-door body style of the original GTI, with the brand showing no interest in reviving that existing type of model. However, he was eager to point out that the concept car’s hidden rear door-handles – which almost make the vehicle look as though it doesn’t have back doors anyway – are destined to make it to production.


“The door handle makes the car cheaper because we save this pillar,” he said, indicating that the section of the rear window that would typically have an extender pillar in place with a smaller glass piece behind is not needed in this design, which therefore makes it more affordable to produce.

Affordability has always been a key consideration for a GTI customer, Mr Mindt said, and indicated that the brand is mindful that when this small fully electric car makes it to production, it needs to be value-focused, as well as stable, likeable, and exciting.


One other thing Mr Mindt focused on with this concept and the ID. 2ALL before it is a “friendly” look, as he says that cars need to be approachable, and not so aggressive.


“You see some cars, they’re super aggressive, and look as though they are eating people on the street or whatever… I really believe it’s somehow wrong,” he said. “When you are in this segment, when you design a car like that it becomes a ‘boy racer’, and that’s a little bit tasteless, a little bit cheesy. And what we want to achieve is a tasty car in the segment - it can be tasty, yes, or sporty and tasty at the same time. For everybody.


“This friendliness, it really works with sportiness, together, I’m really convinced. You know, it makes you smile. It makes you happy. It’s just like the Beetle, the Beetle was always a happy thing,” he said.


As one would expect, the GTI concept is adorned with a red stripe around the ‘grille’ area, and there are golf-ball motifs on the centre caps of the wheels, too. The brand hasn’t shown the actual interior, but renderings shared with press indicate a cleverly designed cabin with a few trademark GTI elements, including red highlights and – you’d hope – tartan trim.


Volkswagen Group is running a theme with its future product rollout to offer more distinct designs for its plethora of car brands….for example, Cupra is left to offer sharp and shiny stuff, and VW aiming for a more approachable and engaging appearance.


VW Group CEO Oliver Blume said that the company has shifted to a design-lead business, and that differentiation between brands and models is critical to the implementation of that strategy.


“The design of our models is one of the most crucial factors that decides the success of our brands. Each brand needs its own strong personality,” said Mr Blume.

“Our refined design principles aim for higher design quality and stronger differentiation of the brands, with our design strategy relying on the further development of established model series, technological lighthouse projects for electric vehicles, and iconic products of the Volkswagen Group,” said Mr Blume.

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