Volkswagen CEO Thomas Schäfer told Autocar it would be “crazy” to let iconic names like GTI fade away
Hot version of forthcoming Volkswagen ID 2 supermini will be electric successor to legendary Golf GTI
Volkswagen has previewed a feisty, affordable performance variant of the upcoming ID 2 with the new ID GTI concept – a car that unashamedly harks back to the original Golf GTI, both in spirit and styling.
A headliner at the 2023 Munich motor show, the compact front-wheel-drive hot hatch is earmarked to head Volkswagen’s new entry-level electric car line-up with a front-mounted electric motor, specially tuned sport suspension, traditional GTI design elements and a price tag expected to start at around €30,000 (£26,000).
“Production has already been decided as part of our electric offensive,” said Volkswagen CEO Thomas Schäfer, in a clear statement of intent for the first-ever electric GTI model. “It remains sporty, technologically progressive and accessible but now has a new interpretation for tomorrow’s world: electric, fully connected and extremely emotive.”
Schäfer said the production version of the ID GTI would be revealed in 2026 and be on sale in early 2027. Confirmation of the hot ID 2 comes after Schäfer told Autocar that he was seeking to ensure long-standing Volkswagen names like GTI are retained on future electric models.
“We have iconic names,” he said. “It would be crazy to let them die and slip away.”
As has always been the case, the GTI name is planned to be applied exclusively to front-driven performance cars. The two-year-old GTX name will continue to be seen on four-wheel-drive sporting models, with the R badge set to be reserved only for the most potent of these all-paw EVs, according to Volkswagen.
The basis for the ID GTI is the same shortened version of Volkswagen’s existing MEB platform as the standard ID 2, dubbed MEB Entry. It houses a front-mounted electric motor and what Volkswagen describes as a “large” battery – likely the larger 56kWh pack that will be available in the ID 2.
Technical details are yet to be made public. However, the development of the baby GTI has been twinned with the range-topping version of the upcoming Cupra Raval, which is claimed to develop up to 226bhp, sufficient to provide it with 0-62mph time of 6.9sec, and a range of up to 273 miles – figures which would stand the ID 2 GTI in good stead against hot hatch rivals including the Abarth 500e, Alpine A290 and new Mini Cooper Electric.
As with the original Golf and its genre-defining GTI sibling, the standard and hot ID 2 share the same body-in-white.
Inspired by the simplistic Giugiaro styling of the original Golf, the new concept has been imbued with a number of classic GTI design touches, signalling Volskwagen’s intent to uphold the legacy of its most revered models.
Among the bespoke features is a deeper front bumper with pronounced air curtains and vertically stacked LED daytime driving lights on either side. The lower section houses a contrasting black air duct with honeycomb-shaped detailing and red-coloured tow hooks.
The VW badge is also illuminated in white for a striking look at night, while the headlights themselves get the firm’s IQ Light matrix technology.
Plastic cladding bulks out the wheel arches, which accommodate retro-look 20in wheels of a double eight-spoke design, while prominent sills feature GTI logos underneath the doors – all in black.
There’s a chunky new spoiler at the rear for added downforce and high-speed stability, bespoke 3D light graphics, a badge illuminated in red, prominent GTI graphics and a black valance within the lower section of the bumper.
The sporting package is rounded off by a 15mm drop in ride height, which suggests plans for a stiffer suspension set-up on the production car.
“With the ID GTI Concept, we are showing what a great future the GTI philosophy has,” said Volkswagen design boss Andreas Mindt. “I already had the GTI in mind when I first put pen to paper for the ID 2. It’s now becoming reality and allowing us to project the GTI idea into the new age of electric mobility.”
At 4104mm long, 1840mm wide and 1499mm tall, the most powerful of Volkswagen’s planned ID 2 variants is slightly larger than today’s petrol-engined Polo GTI.
Traditional GTI design elements continue inside with a three-spoke steering wheel featuring a red 12 o’clock marker, chequered “Jack-e” upholstery for the seats and a golfball-shaped rotary dial for the infotainment.
The 10.9in digital display can also be configured in ‘analogue’ mode, which closely resembles the gauge cluster of the Mk1 Golf GTI.
The larger 12.9in central touchscreen infotainment display also offers varying themes with links to the past. In a nod to the Golf GTI’s rally heritage, the head-up display projects information onto the windscreen for both the driver and front passenger.
Among the more conceptual touches is a red LED pulse sensor incorporated within the backrest of the driver’s seat.
Like the standard ID 2, the ID GTI can accommodate up to five people. Boot space is put at 490 litres, with up to 1330 litres available when the rear seat is folded down.
An additional 50-litre lockable stowage compartment underneath the rear seat is conceived to house the charging cable and other items.
Q&A Andreas Mindt, Volkswagen design boss
How long were you working on the VW ID GTI concept?
“Not a lot of time, only three months. But we had done the ID 2 with the GTI in the back of our minds. We thought of that as a sporty hatchback design, so creating this was easy. The base was already very good.”
How long would it normally take?
“Way longer. When you do a full interior and all HMI, it gets very costly and takes time. The interior for now is only animated, but it gives you the bigger picture. There are the same themes running inside and outside to link the two, which was important.”
What’s your favourite part of the design?
“The wheels. They are the classic steel wheel design [from the Mk1 VW Golf GTI] remade in aluminium. I’ve not seen a wheel treatment like this before.”
What was your starting point for this concept?
“The GTI is an icon for us, and we said to remake it as iconic for electric. We’ve collected the best bits and pieces of designs from all GTIs and done other things with them.”
What’s your personal favourite GTI?
“The Mk1 Golf GTI. The pureness of it – it’s so clean. There were only 5000 planned but we’ve sold 2.7 million GTIs now. The length [of ID GTI] is 4.1 metres, which is very similar to the Mk1 GTI. But the space is way bigger. It’s emotional and rational, so when you sell the idea to your wife or husband it’s easier!”
Is this closer to a Polo GTI or a Golf GTI?
“We focused on GTI itself, not a model. What made GTI an icon? What can we put on it? ID 2 matched really well to GTI; it’s stable, likeable and has the secret source, the three things we identified in our design to make us a ‘loved brand’ again. We made it friendly and approachable and that’s a serious power. It’s not overly aggressive. In a Golf GTI, you never feel embarrassed. In some hot hatches, you do feel embarrassed in certain situations. This is ‘unpimp’ my ride, not a boy racer car.’
What does ‘stable’ mean in design?
“It’s something that looks strong and doesn’t look flat. The Beetle had some shapes in some ways to give stability to the sheet metal. Stable can mean a lot; it’s about not looking like falling over. That’s why we have a strong C-post, to make it look strong and stable.”
Which models will you use for GTI in the ID era?
“We won’t put it everywhere, that can endanger it. Some segments can do other things that work better. Lower hot hatch is where we start from.”
What about the R brand? And GTX?
“GTI is more real world, more blue collar than white collar for R. R has a future in the EV world, yes, absolutely. R is more for record breakers, cars for the Nurburgring. GTX goes into certain segments, and is four-wheel drive. This [ID GTI] is front-wheel drive and GTI will be for front-wheel drive.’
What price are you aiming for the ID 2 GTI?
“We’re not saying this today. The ID 2, we want to offer fo €25,000. There’ll be nothing else like it for this price. Like with the Mk1 GTI, we can convince people with a cheaper car, more approachable and more for the people.”
Is it more fun making small cars than big cars?
“I had a lot of fun at Bentley! I enjoyed a lot what we did. The Batur was an amazing project, also done in a short time. I really enjoyed that but I enjoy this as well. I learned a lot about brands at Bentley, and what brands are about. In one year, it made the Queen’s car and won Le Mans. That’s the strength of Bentley, it’s amazing. I came to VW to see if we can do something similar, like mixing emotional and practical.”
Additional reporting my Mark Tisshaw