One of Volkswagen’s most iconic vehicles, the Volkswagen GTI, has accomplished something a few has ever done: seven generations of great performance. What started out as a humble hot hatch is now a global icon. As a matter of fact, the Volkswagen GTI has earned many awards throughout its rich history. The list includes World Car of the Year awards in 2009 and 2013. Today, this model continues to make history with its ever-evolving style and powerful engine performance.
1974-1983: First generation (MK1)
Introduced in 1975 at the Frankfurt Motor show, the GTI was a sporty version of the front-wheel Volkswagen Golf compact. It featured MK1 Golf’s architecture as a base and used various components from Audi, a brand under the Volkswagen Group. Backed by a high-output 1.6 L-engine from the Audi 80 and a powerful K-Jetronic fuel injection system, it delivered 110 PS, an impressive feat during the 1970s. Considered as the first-ever true hot hatch, it was the perfect mix of practicality and sporty performance.
1983-1992: Second generation (MK2)
The Volkswagen GTI further evolved into something better. To come up with a modernized version, engine options now included a 1.8 L, a 2 L, and a supercharged G60 version. The interiors reflect the simple yet functional German aesthetics. All these upgrades led to strong sales and a positive response from the press.
1993-2001: Third generation (MK3)
To compete with its European and Japanese rivals, the third-gen GTI featured the same look but with a larger body. To further set it apart from its predecessor, the model introduced the 2.8 L VR6 engine. This powerhouse of an engine won over fans due to its unique exhaust note and smooth powerband.
1997-2004: Fourth generation (MK4)
The fourth-gen version features a more upscale exterior, blurring the lines between a regular Golf and a GTI. The engine line-up was expanded to include diesel powerhouses (for European consumers) and the high-end VR6 GTI GLX for US buyers. A 20-valve, 1.8 L turbo motor was also introduced, shaping the future of the coming GTIs. To celebrate GTI’s 25th anniversary, the GTI 337 edition was introduced. It was equipped with distinctly styled interiors, wheels, and bumpers.
2004-2008: Fifth generation (MK5)
The new GTI featured plaid seats that were seen in earlier versions and a redesigned front end. The engine was given a complete overhaul, signifying one of the most groundbreaking changes this vehicle has received. Underneath the Volkswagen GTI MK5’s hood is a turbo-charged, 2 L, four-cylinder engine. This dramatic change placed the GTI back in the spotlight.
2008-2013: Sixth generation (MK6)
A more refined version of its predecessor, the sixth-gen Volkswagen GTI brought in more upgrades on the powertrain, exterior, and interior. These changes earned a positive response and numerous awards.
2013-present: Seventh generation (MK7)
The current version may look similar to its predecessor, but underneath it all is a new MQB platform. A perfect mix of usability, comfort, and hperformance, the MK7 continues to blaze the trail for future hot hatches.