Seven generations of Golf mean seven generations of GTI. The Mk I GTI, presented in 1976, was quite a sensation with its 110hp 1.6l engine. The last production year and the Mk II (introduced in 1984) featured a 1.8l engine. The Mk II was also available with a sixteen-valve engine and eventually the G60 engine from the Corrado. The Mk III continued this formula, now with a 2.0l engine with either 115hp (eight-valve) or 150hp (GTI 16v).

In the fourth generation, the GTI was only a trim line that was available with a number of different engines, including the 1.8 turbo that was a staple of VAG at the time and also used e.g. in the first Audi TT. Things changed for the better with the Mk V, and since then the GTIs have featured successively more powerful turbo engines. The Mk VII GTI develops 220hp, while up to 310hp can be had in the R model.

If you’re considering a GTI, the choice is pretty much between the early naturally-aspirated cars and the later turbocharged models. They are quite different cars.


  • The original hot hatch
  • Pairs practicality with fun
  • Power increase readily possible with turbo models


  • Front wheel drive
  • Early models are lightweight, but not very powerful
  • Later models are more powerful, but not really lightweight
  • Less sporty than some competitors (e.g. Megane RS)
  • More expensive than some competitors


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