The history of the Golf GTI

By Product Expert | Posted in Volkswagen Golf on Wednesday, May 27th, 2020 at 5:39 pm
Golf GTI generations drawings

Golf GTI history 

1975 was not ready for the fresh and wild Golf GTI. A new automotive category was birthed into the world because of the Golf GTI. This category was known as sporty front-wheel-drive compact cars, otherwise known as hot hatches. Keep reading to learn how the Golf GTI redefined a whole segment of the auto industry. 

Golf GTI Mark 1 drawing

Golf GTI Mark 1 

In 1974, a plan was hatched to develop a sporty version of the Golf. The design got the green light to go into development in March of 1975. There were a few names that were thrown around when it came to naming this Golf which include TS and GTS, but it was GTI that won in the end. The chief designer, Herbert Schafer, who was an avid golfer, reinvented the shifter knob by adding a golf ball to the GTI’s selector rod.  

Golf GTI Mark 2 drawing

Golf GTI Mark 2  

As the second generation of Golf GTI went into production, the red strip in the radiator grill and plaid sport seats were introduced. This instantly became a classic design for the Golf GTI. 

Golf GTI Mark 3 drawing

Golf GTI Mark 3 

By the third generation, the Golf GTI got an increase to 150 horsepower thanks to the 16-valve engine. In 1996, Volkswagen released the 20-year anniversary model.  

Golf GTI Mark 4 drawing

Golf GTI Mark 4 

This was the only generation to let go of the classic styling which included the red strip in the radiator grille. Despite the changes, this generation is known for the start of a new, cleaner design era for the Golf GTI.  

Golf GTI Mark 5 drawing

Golf GTI Mark 5 

Hallmarks of this design were a sharper look with a 200-horsepower turbocharged engine. Added to the design were Denver design wheels and a black, V-shaped radiator grille. 

Golf GTI Mark 6 drawing

Golf GTI Mark 6 

The sixth generation of the Golf GTI featured the electronic differential lock for the first time. This edition had a top speed of 149 mph with 210-horsepower. 


Read more about the Volkswagen Golf: How to use Android Auto for Navigation in a Volkswagen Golf


Check out our Volkswagen Golf inventory 

To see our current selections of Volkswagen Golfs, check out our online inventory. From there you can filter through different trim levels and color options to find exactly what you are looking for. 


Read more about the Golf: Impressive engine specs help make the 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI a top pick for new sporty hatchback


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