Volkswagen ID. GTI Concept: the iconic Golf hot hatch’s electric future is here

After years and years of rumours, Volkswagen has now finally confirmed that the GTI is going electric with a new concept vehicle dubbed the ID. GTI. It’s not exactly a Golf GTI replacement, as it’s based on the smaller ID.2all concept shown off earlier this year, but it’s our first look at what a Volkswagen EV hot hatch will look like – and could also preview a whole line of performance-focused EVs in the future.

The Volkswagen ID. GTI concept is based around the same idea that started some 48 years ago for the company – front-wheel drive fun, enhanced power, yet (hopefully) still affordable. But since there’s no engine underneath its bonnet any more, the “I” in “GTI” no longer stands for “Injection” but instead “Intelligence”, in reference to the car’s Vehicle Dynamics Manager (VDM) system.

The marque’s traction control computer system has been rejigged for an electric drivetrain, and now governs not just a front-axle differential locked it’s nicked from the current VW Golf GTI, but also its entire drive system, running gear, steering, sound, and even “simulated shift points”.

Volkswagen makes no mention of the ID. GTI concept’s performance figures, but says that it’ll roughly match up with that of the current eight-generation Golf GTI, which boasts an output of 245 hp and 370 Nm from its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. For context, the ID.2all that it’ll be based on will offer up to 226 hp.

No comments on its expected range, too, but it’ll likely be around the same 450 km mark as the ID.2all, since they’re both built on the same MEB Entry platform that’ll limit how big of a battery Volkswagen can fit in it.

As for looks, the new electric hot hatch concept remains on-brand with the GTI lineage, with red coloured accents on the outside, sportier bumpers with a honeycomb-style mesh for the lower intakes, sportier wheels, and the unmistakeable GTI badging all around the exterior.

The 20-inch eight double-spoke blacked-out wheel design is supposed to mimic “the Pirelli rim from the Mark 1 Golf GTI and the Denver rim from the Golf GTI Mark 5”, while the black GTI decal at the back harks back to the black plastic bumpers of the original GTI.

The interior of the ID. GTI concept is not quite ready for primetime yet, but the illustration photos also show off a whole array of Easter eggs in reference to the GTI lineage, including the “Jack-e” GTI plaid pattern on the upholstery, and the golfball “shifter” that’s now applied onto the GTI Experience Control knob on the centre console to switch driving profiles.

Otherwise, the cabin is pretty much what you’d expect from an EV today, including a giant 12.9-inch infotainment display on the centre console and a generally minimal cabin. Thankfully, the ID. GTI here will still get physical and illuminated controls for air conditioning and volume, which should be a huge improvement over the current-generation Golf GTI.

What’s not so usual is a head-up augmented-reality display, which according to the concept photos, will actually take up the entire front windscreen. VW says that it’ll be used to display driving information like speed and current range in standard driving mode, but as soon as the driver switches over to the new GTI mode, it’ll even display the track map in the bottom left corner, exactly like a video game.

Volkswagen has confirmed that the ID. GTI “will go into production”, but we’re not sure how much of the concept shown here will actually end up in customers’ hands. Either way, it’s heart-warming to see that the GTI name and philosophy will continue to live on, even though it’ll never be quite the same as it was ever again.

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