Hot Hatch 4 Life! _
The Golf has long been VW’s bread and butter. More than 30,000,000 of them have been sold since 1974.
The first-generation Golf GTI (Mk1 or Mark 1) came a few years later, and was an instant hit upon arriving in European stores in ’76. By the time it came to Canadian showrooms in ’84 – a year after launching Stateside – the platform was well on its way to achieving cult status. Even with its short lived funny new name, the Rabbit GTI.
The GTI returns after a year-long hiatus from the market. VW Canada sold all 1,539 2013 GTI Mk6s it had been allotted, and there was no 2014 model. Its return for the 2015 model year is bittersweet. Not just for the company selling them, but for legions of V-Dub fans eager to buy them up in droves.
Has the wait been worth it? Of course. Fans won’t be disappointed. It’s no surprise the Mk7 GTI continues to be one of the top hot hatches on the planet! You were expecting anything less? Yeah right.
At the Canadian launch of Mk6 GTI in 2009, I rode shotgun with Patrick Carpentier while he and fellow racer Richard Spenard duked it out phone booth style in identical GTIs on the circuit Mont. Tremblant’s 15 turns and long straights. In a scene straight out of a postcard, the 4.36-km permanent road course sits near the base of the mountain between Lake Moore and Devil’s River. The battles in turns eight and 10 are particularly memorable because they were particularly spirited.
But, Volkswagen had something quite different planned for the launch of the all-new 2015 VW Golf GTI. Something a bit unexpected. Something more enlightening. Something awesome! Very awesome! [drum roll] It brought out all seven generations of the GTI for the media to not only gawk at, reminisce about and wax poetic over, but also to test drive and experience the mark’s heritage up close and personal.
For many V-Dub fans, this would be a religious experience. Dying and going to heaven for some. It is most certainly the first new vehicle launch I’ve arrived at and went straight for the keys to the oldest car in the parking lot. But it’s exactly what I did!
Before this day, I’d driven the more modern Mk5 and Mk6 GTIs as well as the 2013 Golf R and even the Jetta GLI, so, before even contemplating laying a finger on the Mk7, I made it my mission to drive each and every version on hand beforehand. While I wasn’t able to do it in chronological order, I did do it. Not only that, I got first crack at the original North American hot hatch, the VW Rabbit GTI Mk1. What a trip!
Continue reading my experience with the VW Golf / Rabbit GTI on the IGNITION LUXURY & PERFORMANCE website!