The iconic Volkswagen Golf GTI hot hatch won’t be killed off when the German brand’s small car line goes electric-only before the end of the decade.
Speaking to UK publication Top Gear, Volkswagen’s head of technical development, Kai Grunitz, confirmed reports that the Golf will become an electric model from 2028, and said the GTI name will be carried on.
“If we bring an electric vehicle with the name Golf, it has to be [a] real Golf,” Mr Grunitz told Top Gear.
“It has to look like a Golf. It has to be affordable like a Golf. It has to be [capable] like a Golf. And there has to be a GTI.”
The first-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI was launched in June 1976 – two years after the Mk1 Golf’s debut – as the model’s flagship performance variant, with power coming from a 1.6-litre and later 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine with fuel injection (hence the ‘I’ suffix in its name).
The Golf GTI has carried on through all eight and a half generations of Volkswagen’s hatchback, with an updated version of the current Mk8 revealed last week that will carry it through to 2028 when the Golf will go electric.
Volkswagen is yet to announce whether the flagship all-wheel-drive Golf R will also live on as an electric model, though last year the brand’s CEO, Thomas Schäfer, said it would be “crazy” for the performance nameplates to be killed off post-petrol power.
Mr Grunitz was also vague when asked if the Volkswagen ID.3 – a Golf-sized dedicated electric vehicle (EV) introduced in 2020 – will continue to be sold alongside the battery-powered Golf.
“There is not enough space to have two or three different models fitting to the same customer,” Mr Grunitz said.
“We’ve started to work on a fully electric Golf. We have concrete ideas of how it will look like, but we will see how the market develops. There will be an overlap [between ID.3 and electric Golf].”
While the Volkswagen ID.3 is based on the company’s MEB EV platform, the electric Golf will utilise the upcoming Scalable System Platform (SSP) architecture, which is expected to underpin most battery-powered Volkswagen Group models by 2030.