VW to Debut Another Special Golf GTI; Possibly Last Gas-Powered Version


In a recent Linkedin post, Volkswagen CEO Thomas Schäfer offered the first teaser of what is expected to be a special edition Golf GTI created in celebration of the Golf nameplate’s 50th anniversary. (Note: This is just the Golf name, not the GTI; the latter debuted in 1976, while the Golf debuted in 1974.)

The video teaser shows a blurred-out white Golf GTI cruising around the Nürburgring Nordschliefe’s famous Karussell corner. A “50 Years of Golf” slide appears at the end, giving us our clue as to what the occasion is.

Volkswagen Golf GTI 50th anniversary teaser car overhead at Karussell

In the post, Schäfer writes, “We are returning to the Nürburgring for the 24-hour race to celebrate the world premiere with the fans.” That race takes place the weekend of May 31, and VW’s newest Golf GTI will debut at 10:30 a.m. ET that day.

Note the small text that reads “concept car” at the bottom of the video. We’re a little surprised that’s on there because although the car pictured is a bit blurry, it doesn’t really look all that different from the current eighth-generation Golf GTI. However, part of the GTI’s ethos has always been somewhat understated exterior styling; the magic of a hot hatch like this is the ability to blend in when needed, but then to spark joy on a back road with an athletic chassis and an eager engine.

Volkswagen Golf GTI 50th anniversary teaser blurry car "world premiere"

So what exactly is going to be special about this 50th-anniversary car? It’s tough to say, but the internet hivemind thinks we could be looking at a new version of the Golf GTI Clubsport. The Clubsport was a European-market version of the GTI unveiled in late 2020 that removed the rear seats, upgraded the turbocharger on the 2.0-liter engine to boost output to 300 hp, added an electronically locking front differential, and introduced a host of suspension tweaks to make the car more track-worthy. Then, in 2021, VW also dropped a limited-run Clubsport 45 model that added an Akrapovic exhaust and a roof spoiler among other bits to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the GTI nameplate. Sadly, neither model was offered in the North American market.

2023 Volkswagen Golf GTI 40th Anniversary Edition exterior front three quarter parked sun flare

And while we’d love to hold out hope that this new model will make it stateside, the chances of that feel slim. European markets always get the hottest versions of VW’s everyman hatch, while U.S. enthusiasts often get short shrift. A shame, that—despite all the CUVs flooding our roads, there are surely enough V-Dub hot hatch faithful to scoop up every last example of a limited-run model.

But we digress—there’s another piece of context that makes this debut significant: This could be the last gas-powered version of the Golf GTI, period. Last year, Schäfer told German publication Automobilwoche that the eighth-generation GTI would be the last to feature gasoline-burning powertrains, meaning that all future Golfs would likely be electric.

If this is indeed the gas-powered GTI’s swansong, let’s cross our fingers and hope for something truly special. Then go ahead and cross your legs, arms, and whatever other body parts you can manage, too, in hopes that it will somehow wind up stateside.


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