Posted on August 16 2020
Hop inside an original VW Golf GTI and go for a virtual drive
The GTI popularized the hot hatch. It's easy to see why after a brief drive in this one.
Finding a pristine example of the first-generation Volkswagen GTI is getting pretty tough, especially since the oldest ones in Europe now have over 40 years on the road. A new video suggests that the effort to hunt a good one down would be very worthwhile because the progenitor of the hot hatch segment still looks amazing to drive.
The YouTube description doesn't provide a model year for this GTI, but it's apparently a later example from the first generation because of the 1.8-liter engine, rather than the 1.6-liter mill from the earliest ones. By modern standards, even the larger powerplant's 111 horsepower (82 kilowatts) and 103 pound-feet (140 Newton-meters) of torque doesn't seem like much, but it has no problem motivating the little hatchback here. Plus, there's a fantastic burble from the exhaust whenever the driver's foot comes off the accelerator.
Filmed on the shores of the Wörthersee lake in Austria, the landscape creates an idyllic atmosphere for taking a first-person cruise in this classic hot hatch. The driver doesn't push the machine too hard and is happy just to enjoy the experience. It's easy to imagine that you're actually behind the wheel – although maybe without the knitted gloves.
The GTI's performance has come a long way since the first generation. At the recent Wörthersee Treffen, VW unveiled the Golf GTI TCR concept (gallery above) as the fastest version of the model ever from the factory. The hatch can hit 164 miles per hour (264 kilometers per hour) thanks to a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine producing 286 hp (213 kW) and 273 lb-ft (370 Nm). A seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic turns the front wheels. A production version should be on sale in Europe before the end of the year. While undoubtedly faster than the original, it's hard to imagine the TCR being significantly more engaging to drive than the original GTI.
Okay, I must say that I'm not a big fan of "little European sporty" cars, but I must admit that the Volkswagen Golf GTI really earned its place as a legendary car. It was popular, fast, somehow cheap, and ... well the fan will have better words than me for it.