Published on December 30th, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
40-year history of Volkswagen’s Golf Gran Turismo Injection
Volkswagen in the UK is looking back on 12 months of celebrations, records and record-breaking wins in one of the brand’s genuine automotive icons: the Golf GTI (Gran Turismo Injection).
40 years ago a small group of German engineers, managers and, above all, motoring enthusiasts came together to create what was quickly to become a motoring phenomenon – the original Golf GTI.
Former Communications Director at Volkswagen, Anton Konrad, along with Hermann Hablitzl, head of Golf project development at the time; Herbert Schuster, a chassis expert who would later become a member of the board responsible for development; Jürgen Adler, a specialist in interior design; and Horst-Dieter Schwittlinsky from marketing were the originators of the GTI. They were later joined by Gunther Kühl from motorsport and engineer Alfons Löwenberg as they crafted the GTI unofficially and, essentially, in secret.
Initially engineered as an enthusiast project, it soon became clear after the first Golf GTI hit showrooms in 1976 that the brand’s initial predictions of 5,000 sales might have been somewhat conservative. Today – seven generations and more than two million sales later – the Golf GTI still engenders avid interest from enthusiast owners, and would-be owners, around the world.
The British hot hatch buyers took the VW GTI to heights for four decades. Indeed when the Golf GTI Clubsport S project was announced earlier this year Volkswagen UK took no fewer than 150 of the 400-run limited edition GTI celebration models for its Retailers here, making the UK the world’s single biggest market for the ‘ultimate’ Golf GTI.
The Clubsport S is, currently, the ultimate expression of the GTI bloodline. The front-wheel-drive car’s 2.0-litre TSI engine packs 310PS and provides a 7m 47.19 seconds record lap time around the infamous ‘green hell’ of the gruelling Nürburgring Nordschleife and a top speed, where legal, of 164 mph.
Those who missed out on the Clubsport S, there is the brand’s GTI Clubsport Edition 40 – 1,000 of which were offered to UK drivers in 2016. Powering this latest special edition in the GTI range is a 2.0-litre turbocharged direct-injection engine that delivers 265 PS, with an additional ‘overboost’ function increasing the engine power to 290 PS for up to ten seconds under intense acceleration.
While Volkswagen’s Golf Gran Turismo Injection has evolved significantly from its earliest iteration – the 0-100km/h acceleration time of the original 1976 VW Golf Gti was at 9.2 seconds, is eclipsed significantly by the Clubsport S’s 0-100km/h time of just 5.8 seconds.
With a new Golf GTI due to debut in 2017 boasting more power, enhanced technology, refreshed styling and more equipment than ever before the future looks bright, too, for one of Volkswagen’s true icons.