Volkswagen has published a series of peculiar teasers on social media platform X, hinting at what could be a special-edition Golf GTI that revives the Rabbit badge – and it’s set to be revealed as soon as next week.
The Volkswagen News official X account has published two teasers, the first referencing the Rabbit – a nameplate with strong significance to the VW brand – and the second referencing “[working] in the garage on a very special model”, which would appear to refer to either a limited-edition or singular concept vehicle.
Rabbit was the name used for the first-generation Golf in North America, first launched in 1975. However, the GTI version didn’t launch until 1983, or 40 years ago this year.
The Rabbit nameplate has subsequently been used a number of times in the US market, including on the Mk5 Golf and then a GTI Rabbit Edition for the Mk7.
Both posts also appear to have a running countdown, with the first teaser from August 27 starting with ‘7’, suggesting a reveal a week on from the first post which would be Monday, September 3 – just two days before the IAA Munich mobility show.
The internet is full of 🐈 🐈 🐈. Everyone likes cats. We like them, too. But today, we want to honor the rabbit – for good reason. Stay tuned!#welovetherabbit #OneFuture #Volkswagen #VW pic.twitter.com/fZznfrlvha— Volkswagen News (@volkswagen) August 27, 2023
Volkswagen is no stranger to doing anniversary specials, so a 40th Anniversary special edition celebrating the launch of the original US-market Rabbit GTI makes sense, though these teasers are from Germany, and Munich is in… well… Germany, so it can’t be a US-only model again.
There’s also the fact IAA Munich has a focus on future mobility, with electrification, autonomy, in-car tech and sustainability being current focus points – could the GTI be getting electrified?
The current Golf GTI and R aren’t electrified, with those wanting an electrified hot hatch offered the option of the plug-in hybrid Golf GTE. We know the ninth-generation Golf will probably be all-electric, but we’re still a number of years away from that – the facelifted Mk8 won’t launch until 2024.
Volkswagen did file a patent with the German trademark and patent office back in July, which depicted a new GTI badge with the ‘I’ styled like a lightning bolt.
It’s still unclear whether this new badge will be used for all-electric vehicles, or whether it signifies stages of electrification such as mild-hybrid or plug-in hybrid.
Thomas Schäfer, Volkswagen brand CEO, said recently he believes heritage nameplates, such as Golf and GTI, should be carried through into the company’s all-electric future.
Do you also have a garage where you work on your car? We’ve been in the garage working on a very special vehicle. More information to follow soon…#welovethegarage #OneFuture #Volkswagen #VW pic.twitter.com/mctFXeNKWq— Volkswagen News (@volkswagen) August 28, 2023
Both new teasers also wear the hashtag #OneFuture, which appears to be pointing to VW’s ACCELERATE electrification strategy, which aims to achieve 70 per cent electric vehicle (EV) sales volume by 2030 in Europe under the Volkswagen brand, and 50 per cent in markets like the US and China. Volkswagen also plans to be all-electric in Europe by 2035.
Could that perhaps mean that we’ll see a concept revealed at IAA Munich that is a preview of Volkswagen’s new all-electric generation of performance hatchbacks?
Volkswagen says officially that the GTX brand stands for the sporty top-of-the-line models of the ID. family, but it just so happens that the existing GTX range comes with dual-motor all-wheel drive, unlike the usual front-wheel drive layout of VW’s GTI models.
So what could be badged GTI in the all-electric VW future? The ID. Concept that previewed the ID.3 was revealed on the 40th anniversary of the Mk1 Golf – so could we be getting an ID.GTI Concept 40 years on from the original Rabbit GTI?
While the Golf seems like the obvious choice, the Mk8 is due for a mid-life facelift and it seems unlikely that Volkswagen would preview the Mk9 Golf GTI with a concept before the refresh has been teased or revealed. Perhaps this won’t be a Golf after all.
The original GTI was a trailblazer in offering affordable performance for all – maybe an ID.2all GTI is headed to Munich? Light, affordable and electric, a performance version of the ID.2all Concept embodies the traits of a rabbit, while its attainable and affordable production pitch could signify a new era for the GTI badge in the electric age.
Where the ID. Concept previewed an electric vehicle that would sit alongside VW’s legacy nameplates as a separate offering, the ID.2all debuted Volkswagen’s new design language and previews a production car due in 2025 that will start at less than €25,000 (A$41,991) – mid-way between the price positioning of the current Polo and Golf in Germany.
The ID.2all packages the interior space of a Golf in a footprint similar to the current Polo, measuring just 4050mm long and 1812mm wide, offering 490L-1330L of boot space and a claimed driving range of approximately 450km on the WLTP test cycle.
Riding on the same MEB Entry dedicated electric platform, the ID.2all shares its underpinnings with upcoming Cupra Raval (née UrbanRebel Concept), right down to the 166kW electric motor on the front axle good for a 7.0-second 0-100 claim.
Given all production GTI models have been FWD, that’s another clue that the ID.2all could serve as the basis for Volkswagen’s first all-electric GTI model; the ID.3 is currently RWD-only. Whether a GTI version of the ID.2all would get a more powerful e-motor on the front axle than the original concept’s 166kW remains to be seen, though a slight bump to 180kW to match the current Golf GTI seems possible.
With that said, Volkswagen has previously indicated all of its ID. range of electric vehicles would get GTX flagship performance variants – so the production version of the ID.2all may not actually be called the ‘ID.2’ if the GTI badge is instead affixed to it.
Yes that’s a lot of guesswork, and we’ll just have to wait and see what further clues Volkswagen puts out in the lead-up to the “special model’s” full reveal next week – we’ll be watching with keen eyes.
Stay tuned to CarExpert for our coverage.
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