VW has shown an electric version of its classic GTI hot hatch. It’s just a concept so far, but VW says the all-electric ID. GTI is planned for eventual production.
The electric VW ID. GTI concept was unveiled today in advance of the IAA auto show in Munich, Germany.
The original Golf GTI, released in 1976, was the first VW to use direct fuel injection, thus the model name which stands for Grand Touring Injection. VW expanded the GTI designation to other performance-oriented models, and the VW Golf GTI has been popular as an affordable but quick hot hatch, defining the segment.
So lending this designation to a future electric model is a big deal, showing that VW thinks the coming electric ID. GTI will be worthy of that heritage (especially since it said it wouldn’t use the GTI designation for the ID.3 hot hatch version).
VW said that the new ID. GTI will use this classic naming convention, despite the lack of a fuel injection system, replacing “injection” with “intelligence.” The “I’ now stands for “intelligent thinking in the sports-car world,” says VW.
The ID. GTI concept is based on the ID. 2all, a small and inexpensive electric hatchback. The 2all is expected to start under 25,000 Euros (~$27k USD), but VW doesn’t have a price yet for the ID. GTI. We’re sure it will be more, but if it’s starting from an inexpensive platform to begin with, that’s a good sign.
Other than that, we don’t have a lot of specs. It’s an inch taller than the Golf GTI, two inches wider, and seven inches shorter in length (though with just 1 inch shorter wheelbase). Due to this shorter length, it has slightly less rear cargo space than the Golf GTI, but more cargo space with the seats folded down, and it sits on slightly larger tires and wheels. And those are about all the specs that VW shared – nothing powertrain-related, yet.
We do know that the ID. GTI concept is planned to be front-wheel drive, like the 2all is. And it will have what VW is calling “GTI Experience Control,” a new system that VW says will allow drivers to adjust various aspects of vehicle dynamics. This includes adding sounds and simulated shift points – allowing you to pretend that your car is running on a noisy gas engine with a narrow power band instead of a superior electric one, if that takes your fancy for some weird reason.
The exterior has various sport-oriented touches, like a spoiler and big rear diffuser, front tow hooks, and black side skirts.
While it’s only a concept, everything about the exterior looks pretty realistic. We can imagine the final version will look somewhat like this.
On the interior, however, things get a little different. VW says it wants to incorporate an extensive augmented-reality heads-up display.
VW hasn’t released photos of this interior, but has released concept renderings of it. It looks quite futuristic – perhaps excessively so.
But then, these are renders, so who knows what the real thing will look like. We can imagine the sport seats and 12.9-inch touchscreen display will make it to production, and perhaps some sort of HUD, but maybe a little less extreme than these concept drawings suggest.
VW has said that “the decision has been taken that [the ID. GTI] will go into production,” but so far we have no date for when this will happen. The concept looks fairly far along, in terms of external design, but the interior is obviously not finished, nor can the powertrain be finished since we have no details on it (other than that the battery with be low-slung in the vehicle, helping lower the center of gravity, as has become the standard in EVs). So we don’t know when to expect it, but it will happen, eventually, says VW.
We were all pretty excited when we saw this hit the newsroom, especially with this year’s proliferation of gigantic 3-row electric land yachts which seem to be taking the place of anything reasonably-sized. It’s nice to see a company offering something in the opposite direction, and especially in a segment, hot hatches, that is renowned by enthusiasts for offering little compromise between fun and practicality.
A few years ago Mercedes announced an electric EQA hot hatch, but later stole the EQA name and gave it to yet another bland crossover SUV that looks like literally every other car on the road, and we’ve heard nothing more about the awesome electric hot hatch concept. As you can tell, we’re still miffed about that.
So here’s a chance to get a real electric hot hatch, from the brand that defines the segment, at what seems like it might be a reasonable price, and with a production commitment – but with an unspecified date, and few details otherwise.
It’s good news on balance, and we can’t wait to hear more. As long as this one doesn’t go the way of the EQA.
Though I will say that one odd thing about this is the front-wheel drive layout. Many hot hatches use front-wheel drive, but this is because a gas engine can go under the hood and drive the front wheels, meaning no need for a driveshaft to transfer torque to the rear wheels, saving space and complexity in a small vehicle.
With an electric car, smaller electric motors can be put anywhere, and a driveshaft isn’t necessary. So a rear- or all-wheel drive version would be quite easy to do, and would give performance benefits as well (driving the rear wheels makes a car quicker, because weight transfers to the rear under acceleration).
Front-wheel drive has benefits for less-experienced drivers and in low-traction scenarios, but for a performance-oriented enthusiast vehicle like the GTI, we’d love to see rear- or all-wheel drive options at some point.
But there’s still time to go before this car hits the road, and we don’t really know any specs yet, so maybe this is in the plans. We’re certainly looking forward to hearing more about this, because we need some more fun, affordable hatchback EVs, especially with the Bolt EV going out of production this year (though Chevy says it will come back eventually).
What do you think of the GTI concept? Let us know in the comments.
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