The German “hot hatch” has had a makeover since 1976.
If there was a dictionary listing for “hot hatch”, there would be a picture of a Volkswagen Golf GTI next to the definition. And while cars like the Ford Focus ST and the Mini Cooper John Cooper Works certainly qualify as hot hatches, it is the GTI that is one of the initiators of the category. With that in mind and with the upcoming US launch of the GTI Mk 8 version later this year, Volkswagen released a commemorative look at the faces of each generation from its iconic hot hatch.
Golf GTI Mk 1
It all started when the first GTI was launched in Europe in 1976. Edged in red, the car’s grille made a simple statement: would have continue for decades. The first GTI had a thin bumper which was replaced by a beefier component from 1978. “Even with the original GTI, all the design elements already reflect a clear attitude,” says Marco Pavone, head of the exterior design at VW for the new Golf GTI.
Golf GTI Mk 2
Released in 1983, the Mk 2 wears the red surround grille and adds a red accent line to the bumper. At the same time, an air intake is added under the bumper, and the four-valve versions incorporate fog lights associated with the headlights.
Golf GTI Mk 3
The third GTi starts in 1991 and features more of a softer wedge shape emphasized by placing the dual headlights behind a single diffuser lens. A split air intake, which will also adorn the next three iterations of GTI, is added to the lower area of the front.
Golf GTI Mk 4
“Launched in 1998, the Golf 4 GTI has a more modest appearance. For example, it is the first and only GTI not to sport the red stripe on the grille. And yet the model is celebrated to this day as the start of a clean new era of vehicle design. Pavone said.
Golf GTI Mk 5
Released in 2003, the Mk 5 GTI sees the return of twin headlights and other design cues inspired by the first-generation GTI. The Mk 5 marks the start of the honeycomb grille that would be a trademark for all future GTIs.
Golf GTI Mk 6
The sixth-generation Golf GTI debuted in 2003 as two thin red horizontal lines frame the upper grille while connecting the bi-xenon headlights. Modern, vertical fog lights and a wider lower grille are also introduced.
Golf GTI Mk 7
With perhaps a bit of bias about the Mk 7 GTI, Pavone offers, “It was the first GTI that I was able to let my creative spirit flow on as a designer.” “To me it’s still the best, with iconic quality – no GTI has ever looked so stylish.”
Golf GTI Mk 8
Already available in Europe, the first GTI Mk 8 will arrive in the United States as a 2022 model later this year. Featuring deep headlights, this eight-generation hot hatch picks up the aggressive front end of the GTI while introducing new elements like the X-shaped LED fog lights.
NEXT: Porsche 918 Spyder: Costs, Facts & Figures
Here’s why the Chevy Tahoe is the best large SUV of 2021
About the Author