It's been a long time coming, but the new Golf GTI is finally on its way-in Europe at least. Europeans will be able to get their hands on the new GTI this fall. Sadly, North Americans will have to wait until late 2005/early 2006.
Based on the fifth-generation Golf, the new GTI takes the original GTI's concept (performance, handling, sporty looks, etc.) and infuses it with state-of-the-art technology and design.
Power comes from a newly developed 2.0-liter FSI turbo engine. The 200-bhp direct-injection unit with a high-compression ratio of 10.5:1 is an ideal GTI engine, providing 207 lb-ft of torque available from 1800 to 5000 rpm. With a standard six-speed manual transmission, 0 to 62 mph is reached in 7.2 sec.; maximum speed is 146 mph. The amazingly quick dual-clutch gearbox (DSG) is available as an option. It enables the GTI to charge to 62 mph in under 6.9 sec.
The MkV GTI's looks are also the most differentiated from the standard Golf in the entire series. The arrow-shaped contours of the hood flow unbroken into the newly designed, shield-shaped black radiator grille. The lower bumper has three large air scoops supplying intake air to the GTI turbo engine, which, like the radiator grille, are covered by diamond mesh. The GTI also has foglights and a 15mm lower, specially tuned sport suspension.
Styling cues are characteristic of a GTI, a perfect blend between stealth and aggression: black radiator grille with red frame, a rear spoiler with twin tailpipes, distinctive 17-in. alloy wheels ( with 225-wide tires) and red calipers on the four large disc brakes. The GTI look continues with an archetypal bumper, black widened sill panels, high-gloss B-pillar trim, blue heat-reflective windows and darkened headlight housings.
As expected, the GTI's interior is equally distinctive. The seats are newly designed for the GTI and offer maximum comfort with the best possible side support and sporty looks. Like the first GTI, the new version has a three-spoke steering wheel with aluminum trim and is covered with perforated leather. Aluminum is also featured on the gearstick knob, the trim inserts and the pedal cluster. As with GTIs of the past, the headliner is black.
Other interior features specific to the GTI include newly designed instruments, Climatic climate control, multi-function display, illuminated front footwells, automatic anti-dazzle interior mirror, rain sensor, coming-home and leaving-home lighting function, and a tire monitor display. Like all Golf models, the GTI has a comprehensive package of safety features, including ESP, active front head restraints, three rear head restraints and six airbags.
Production of the first GTI was launched in June 1976, with an originally planned limited edition of just 5,000, available in silver and red only. Then the unexpected happened and over the course of four generations the original 5,000 vehicles have become more than 1.5 million.