Volkswagen ID GTI EV Concept First Look: Hatchback Time Machine

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It’s been almost exactly 48 years since the first Volkswagen Golf GTI model debuted in Germany, and now five decades later we’re getting the first revolutionary all-electric performance hatchback from the German brand. The new VW ID GTI concept car is a bigger interpretation of many of the details found on the previous and popular ID2all all-electric concept compact hatchback, which seemed clear to have no destiny in the U.S. Here’s everything we know about the new EV hot hatch so far, including the brand’s prospects for bringing the model to the U.S. in a couple of years.

Currently, for the U.S., VW has the ID4 EV SUV, the ID Buzz EV van, and the ID7 EV sedan confirmed for the market. Those are all based on the MEB platform, and the ID2all was also based on a shortened version of the same. VW has already confirmed the new ID GTI Concept is based on the same platform with front-wheel drive and will get a production version eventually, likely due for 2026.

The “I” in “GTI” no longer stands for “injection” but instead now “intelligence,” in reference to the onboard Vehicle Dynamics Manager computer; the ID GTI will also get an electronically controlled front-axle differential lock copped from the current-generation Golf. The VDM apparently allows for various different driving impressions based on Golf and GTI models of the past; a quote from the release: “For the first time, it is possible to adjust the drive system, running gear, steering, sound, and even the simulated shift points in the style of one of the historic GTI models—such as the original 1976 Golf GTI, the first 16-valve Golf GTI Mark 2 from 1986 or the 2001 Golf GTI Mark 4 ’25 years of GTI’.” The release calls the concept car an effective “time machine,” which admittedly sounds pretty cool, if somewhat artificial.

The ID GTI Concept is only slightly larger than the ID2all it’s based on; it’s 161.6 inches long with a 102.4 inch wheelbase, 59 inches tall, and 72.4 inches wide. It rides on 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels wearing 245/35 performance rubber. Previously, VW advertised the ID2all as having all of the interior space of a Golf in a smaller overall package, thanks to the packaging efficiency of an all-electric platform.

The ID GTI Concept gets the signature red nose line and badging of the GTI brand, as well as a front light bar that illuminates behind a lit-up VW badge. Up front, there are also red tow points, a honeycomb style intake similar to the fifth-gen GTI, and a black front splitter. The eight double-spoke polished black wheel design is meant to evoke “the Pirelli rim from the Mark 1 Golf GTI and the Denver rim from the Golf GTI Mark 5,” framed by matte black wheel arches.

At the rear is a black roof spoiler, with black “air guides” at the sides of the rear window, with a super wide LED third brake light across the top. There’s also some eye-trickery with the blackened elements of the rear to remind you of the original GTI’s black window surround and bumper.

There are familiar elements to the interior of the ID GTI Concept as well. Since it now gets a column shifter, the golfball effect has been applied to the the multifunction GTI Experience Control in the center console, which manages driving profiles. The digital cockpit and dashboard are highly configurable, including a “Vintage” mode that replicated the instrumentation of a Mark 2 Golf GT.

There’s a new augmented reality head-up display that can project info for both the passenger and driver, which can also display the driving track you’re currently on, like the German Nürburgring, and even display you live position in a race (presuming all other vehicles are connected in some way; it’s not clear how this works yet). Thankfully, VW does mention the new 12.9-inch infotainment screen will get physical, illuminated controls for air conditioning and volume, which should be an improvement over current ID models.

Of course, the interior adopts a reinterpreted GTI plaid pattern called “Jack-e,” after the “Jacky” nomenclature used for the fabric in the Mark 6 Golf GTI, covering new sport seats in the ID GTI Concept. The packaging opportunities carry over from the ID2all concept as well, including an additional stowage box under the luggage compartment, which is already 17.3 cubic feet of space, as well as more stowage with charging functionality under the rear bench seat, perfect for hiding a charging laptop in a parked vehicle, for example. With the three-across rear seats folded down, open cargo space expands to 40.7 cubic feet.

Update, March 15, 2024: VW made no mention of range or exact power, but the ID2all promised 280 miles of range and 233 horsepower from a single front-mounted e-motor. It’s very unlikely the ID2all was planned for our market and this new electric GTI is based on that, but hey, we’d welcome a performance-minded electric hatchback. According to VW America CEO Pablo Di Si, the new electric Golf might have a chance of coming to the U.S., if the automaker can keep the price down, via Automotive News: “My wish is that [$25,000] price point,” Di Si said. “If we cannot go to the 25, then it will be more of a niche product… Do we have a plan? Not yet,” Di Si said of the ID GTI. “But it is on our radar.” If the ID2all is planned for 2025, we anticipate a production e-GTI around 2026, or maybe 2027 for the U.S. if it ever happens. Fingers crossed.

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