The first all-electric Volkswagen GTI concept debuts

The ID. GTI Concept is based on the ID. 2all concept that was presented in March.

For decades, the GTI name has stood for Volkswagen compact sports cars. The Golf GTI, Scirocco GTi, Polo GTI, and up! GTI are all icons. Volkswagen is now catapulting the DNA of the GTI into the age of electric mobility with the new ID. GTI Concept. The world premiere of this electrifying concept vehicle will take place during this year’s IAA Mobility in Munich (September 5 to 9, 2023), exactly 48 years after the worldwide debut of the first Golf GTI at the IAA in Frankfurt.

The ID. GTI Concept is based on the ID. 2all concept that was presented in March—a future electric compact car that costs around 25,000 euros that has generated worldwide attention. Its front-wheel-drive layout, clear design and powerful proportions make it the perfect starting point for a new GTI. Volkswagen Head of Design Andreas Mindt already also had the sporty derivative in mind when he produced the first sketches for the ID. 2all. Just like the ID. 2all, the ID. GTI Concept is more than just a show car—it is the first glimpse of the exciting GTI future because the decision has been taken that it will go into production.

The way the first electric GTI unleashes its dynamic capabilities is new and exciting. The worlds of the electric ID. GTI Concept and turbocharged Golf GTI meet up when it comes to transmitting the power to the front wheels. A front-axle differential lock—electronically controlled by a Vehicle Dynamics Manager—is used, just like the current generation of the GTI. The Golf GTI and Golf GTI Clubsport were the first Volkswagen models with this traction-control system. With the ID. GTI Concept, an electric Volkswagen now has this intelligent system on board for the first time.

The letter “I” for injection in the GTI name now also stands for intelligence—in the form of the high-performance drivetrain and chassis. With the ID. GTI Concept, Volkswagen is presenting a new evolutionary stage of these electronically networked driving dynamics systems. Here, the Vehicle Dynamics Manager of the ID. GTI Concept integrates the powertrain into the control system to an even greater degree than on the gasoline models.

This is possible because the set-up of the electric drive motor and its system can be varied almost infinitely. This permits realization of a wide range of different GTI profiles. Using a newly developed GTI Experience Control on the center console, the driver can choose which characteristics the ID. GTI Concept’s powertrain should have. 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’. This makes the ID. GTI Concept a highly dynamic time machine.

Thomas Schäfer, CEO of the Volkswagen brand, sums up the appeal of Volkswagen’s GTI cars: “The perfect combination of driving pleasure and everyday usability—that is what the GTI letters have meant for decades. With this concept, we are transporting the GTI DNA into the electric age. It remains sporty, iconic, technologically progressive and accessible, but now has a new interpretation for tomorrow’s world: electric, fully connected and extremely emotive. Here, driving pleasure and sustainability are a perfect match. This means GTI has a future for our brand and for the fans. Production has already been decided as part of our electrification plans. The ID. GTI Concept is a Volkswagen sports car for the electric age that is suitable for everyday driving: 100 percent electric, 100 percent emotion.”

Andreas Mindt has been Head of Design of the Volkswagen brand since 2023. Before his stints as Chief Designer at Bentley and Head of Exterior Design at Audi, he had already created best-selling Volkswagen models such as the first Tiguan and the seventh-generation Golf. “With the ID. GTI Concept, we are showing what a great future the GTI philosophy has at Volkswagen,” says Mindt. “In my opinion, the powerful ID. 2all is the perfect basis for an electric GTI. I already had the GTI in mind when I first put pen to paper for the ID. 2all. It is now becoming reality and allows us to project the GTI idea into the new age of electric mobility.”

Like the original GTI, the concept uses the design and technology of an affordable large-series model as its basis. And like every previous GTI, this base has the typical dynamic and unique features of the GTI. This transformation succeeds above all if the basic product line already has GTI potential, including clear and powerful proportions and a foursquare stance. The ID. 2all has this, which is why the ID. GTI Concept has characteristics that are otherwise found in more premium segments. In figures, this means a compact 161.6-inch overall length and a long 102.4-in wheelbase wheelbase framed by large 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels with 245/35 performance tires. The short overhangs, 59-in height and 72.4-in width complete the picture.

At the front, the GTI concept vehicle has the most significant and well-known exterior GTI feature: the red radiator grille surround, although the aperture is much smaller than on a gasoline car. The red line is narrow but nevertheless striking. At the front of the ID. GTI Concept, it spans the entire width below the IQ.LIGHT LED matrix headlights. The red GTI logo is integrated in the red line on the right. The headlights themselves are framed by a horizontal LED bar. The Volkswagen badge is illuminated in white.

The design of the GTI bumper is inspired by motorsports and is unique to this model. It features a dominant black front splitter in the middle with an air intake above it that has the typical honeycomb structure seen since the fifth-generation GTI. On the outer area of the grille there are two red motorsport-style towing eyes. At the sides, the designers have incorporated vertical LED daytime running lights in the black-framed air curtains that route the airflow to the wheel housings and then outwards in a targeted manner in order to optimize the aerodynamic performance and cool the brakes. The low front splitter and vertical LED daytime running lights make the concept vehicle appear to hug the road. At the front, the future and past meet up once more because the matte-black area around the splitter and air intake evokes the low spoiler and bumper of the original Golf GTI.

The C-pillar is the distinguishing feature of the ID. 2all’s side view and is also a defining element of the ID. GTI Concept’s silhouette. The visual stability of the C-pillar flows into the side of the body to create a powerful appearance. A second stabilizing Volkswagen element is the straight window shoulder that forms the side contour between the A- and C-pillars. In combination with the feature line running parallel below this, and the muscular side skirts, this creates a positive tension in the surfaces that is typical for a Volkswagen and for a GTI. In addition, the side skirts are covered at the bottom with matte-black plastic elements which optimize the vehicle aerodynamically and also help to make it appear very low-slung on the road.

Distinctive wheel designs, such as the Pirelli rim from the Mark 1 Golf GTI and the Denver rim from the Golf GTI Mark 5, are another characteristic GTI feature. They have eight double spokes and a striking circle of eight openings; the inner surfaces of the wheel rims are black, while the edges of the eight openings have a high-gloss polished finish.  The wheels are framed by matte-black flared wheelarch extensions.

The designers of the first Golf created an unmistakable GTI rear end 48 years ago without modifying the body panels, yet still added unique GTI features. These included the rear window with a black surround and a black bumper instead of a chrome-plated one. With the ID. GTI Concept, the Volkswagen design team has now reinterpreted these features. A black roof spoiler is now used instead of a black rear window frame and is flanked by black air guides at the sides. The spoiler ensures optimum downforce and minimum drag. Under the spoiler, a narrow LED strip runs across the entire width of the vehicle as a third brake light.

Whereas the ID. 2all concept vehicle is equipped with a horizontal red LED taillight cluster bar, this element has a dark tint on the GTI model. Only the frames of the two 3D taillight clusters and the Volkswagen badge are illuminated in bright red. A black area below the horizontal taillight cluster bar picks up on the original GTI’s black bumper, with lettering integrated in the middle of this area. The two-part black rear diffuser has a powerful design and is flanked at the sides by the wheelarch extensions. Since it extends beyond the body, it protects the painted bumper surfaces.

When it came to the interior, the first GTI also generated excitement in 1976 with its specific features. Back then, plaid sports seats, a three-spoke steering wheel with a low impact absorber (which fans lovingly called a ‘spittoon’) and a golf-ball shifter turned a Golf into a GTI. This also works in a similar way in 2023.

The ID. GTI Concept’s three-spoke steering is equipped with an airbag that is located slightly lower down to create a visual bridge to the impact absorber in the Golf GTI I. The illuminated 12 o’clock marker always shows the driver the straight-ahead position. The two horizontal spokes of the multifunction steering wheel each accommodate an easy-grip thumbwheel and two buttons. Among other things, the driver uses these to control the individually configurable digital instruments, the augmented reality head-up display and functions such as audio volume. Since the automatic transmission is operated by a steering column switch, as in the ID.7, the interior designers have transferred the golf ball shifter design to the multifunction GTI Experience Control in the center console that is used to control the different driving profiles.

Digital displays inside the concept vehicle allow new designs and functions, making it possible to experience the GTI idea in more varied ways than before. Fundamentally different cockpit looks are available for the instruments of the ID. GTI Concept: the basic configuration is a reflection of the current digital age that displays all conceivable information and functions and a sporty GTI graphic design. In the Vintage mode, the 10.9-inch Digital Cockpit in front of the driver is transformed into the instrumentation of a Mark 2 Golf GTI, for example, becoming a perfect match for the Mark 1 Golf GTI mode that can be activated with the GTI Experience Control.

The designers and engineers have also taken a new approach with the augmented reality head-up display. It projects a new data set onto the windshield, now for the passenger as well as the driver. This means the virtual and real worlds are merged for the ‘co-driver’ as well. In standard driving mode, information such as the speed or current range is projected in front of the driver and front passenger. In this basic configuration, the GTI Silver Drive white is used for the background lighting and displays. Activate the new GTI mode, and the background lighting and all displays switch to the GTI Red Turbo color.

Since the car has a low center of gravity—because of the battery in the vehicle floor—and is light for an electric vehicle, the ID. GTI Concept is perfect for driving on racetracks. If the driver goes on to the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife in GTI mode, for example, they can display the course and their position on the far left of the windshield. When driving in a race, the driver can additionally see their current position in the field and their progress (‘GTI Achievements’). Among other things, the front passenger can see the current lap times that have been completed. The concept vehicle thus becomes a projection of tomorrow’s world.

The 12.9-inch infotainment touch display is already near-production with its intuitive graphics and menu structure. The same applies to the air-conditioning controls located under the display, which are operated by illuminated buttons. In the middle of the air conditioning strip that’s easily accessible for both driver and front passenger, there’s a small thumbwheel to adjust the volume of the infotainment system. Located a level further down are two large inductive charging interfaces for smartphones, which are magnetically locked in position. As described above, other vehicle functions are controlled using the GTI Experience Control integrated in the center console. Numerous 45W USB-C interfaces distributed throughout the vehicle interior supply power to smartphones. Larger devices can be powered by a fully usable 230-volt socket.

Sport seats were a characteristic feature of the first Golf GTI, and ergonomically designed seats also catch the eye in the new ID. GTI Concept. Their inner surfaces naturally have a reinterpreted GTI plaid pattern, with fabric being called Jack-e instead of Jacky, the name used for the fabric in the Mark 6 Golf GTI. The driver’s seat backrest is additionally equipped with the GTI Heartbeat, a red pulse sensor. When the concept vehicle is locked using the remote control, this activates the anti-theft alarm: the GTI Heartbeat, which is visible from outside, signals to the driver that the vehicle is secure.

The interior of the ID. GTI Concept is characterized by clear design, high quality and intuitive operation. The four-door vehicle can accommodate five passengers. The luggage compartment is also generous with a capacity of 17.3 cubic feet. What’s more, since the ID. GTI Concept shares the MEB entry package with the ID. 2all, it also has the same practical details. These include features such as an additional stowage box under the double luggage compartment floor, which can accommodate several bags of shopping, for example. There is a further 1.8-cu ft stowage area under the rear bench seat, which can be folded in one easy movement. This stowage area was specially designed for the charging cable and items such as the first-aid kit, high-visibility vests and breakdown set. In addition, there is enough space in this lockable compartment for devices such as laptops and tablets, which can also be charged there.

When the 60:40 split rear bench seat is folded down, the luggage compartment capacity increases to 47 cu ft. The ID. GTI Concept is not just at home when driving short distances and on the racetrack, but is equally suitable for long journeys. This is accomplished by its efficient drive system, low weight, good aerodynamics, comfortable suspension, and a large battery.

ID. GTI Concept
Length 161.6 in
Width 72.4 in
Height 59.0 in
Wheelbase 102.4 in
Storage volume 17.3-47.0 cu ft
Wheels 245/35 R20
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