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The Volkswagen GTI EV: What we know so far

Here's why the GTI EV is definitely in VW's production plans

Volkswagen GTI EV concept in red left rear three-quarter view against a light gray gradient background.

Rumors about new electric car models pop up, spread fast,  and soon fly away like dandelions in springtime, but that’s not the case with an electrified Volkswagen GTI performance hatchback. The company hasn’t announced a firm launch date for the electric version of the original hot hatch, but VW has confirmed that a GTI EV is coming.

Why the VW GTI EV matters

Volkswagen GTI EV concept in red left front three-quarter view on a loose gray gravel surface.

Generations of drivers have enjoyed the fossil-fuel-powered VW GTI. If the Volkswagen Beetle was the consummate “people’s car,” the VW GTI is the “people’s performance car.” The Golf GTI launched in 1976 in Europe, but it wasn’t until 1983 that the GTI made it to the U.S. until 1983, where it was called the Rabbit GTI. I owned a 1985 GTI and had rollicking good times driving it throughout New England. With its surprisingly capacious cargo space when the second-row seats were folded down, the front-wheel drive GTI was as practical as fun.

There’s no question about whether Volkswagen will produce a GTI EV. In September 2023, when he introduced the GTI EV concept car shown in the photos accompanying this article, Volkswagen brand CEO Thomas Schafer confirmed the plans, saying, “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.”

The VW GTI EV’s defining characteristics

Volkswagen GTI EV concept in red left front quarter panel showing the wheel and driver's door with black GTI badging.

The GTI EV will be a variant of the ID. 2all. VW revealed a concept version of the ID. 2all concept in March 2023. The ID. 2all will be a front-wheel drive car built on VW’s MEB Entry platform for small electric cars. According to VW, the ID. 2all will have a 166 KW electric motor that produces 223 horsepower with a range of up to 450 km (280 miles) and as much interior space as a current VW Golf. The ID. 2all will be VW’s first low-cost EV.

Volkswagen ID. 2all concept car, VW'slow cost EV
VW ID. 2all Concept, the vehicle the GTI EV will be based on VW / VW

The ID. 2all will include VW’s Travel Assist automatic driver assistance system (ADAS), IQ.LIGHT micro LED matrix headlights and Electric Vehicle Route Planner, a trip routing system that includes charging facilities.

What will the GTI EV add to the ID .2all?

Volkswagen GTI EV concept in red left lower driver door panel with GTI logo.

Volkswagen hasn’t released all of the GTI EV’s technical specifications, but it has shown one card in its hand to reinterpret the model initials. The “I” in the original GTI designation stood for “injection,” but VW says with the GTI EV, the “I” is for “intelligence.”  The reference is to the car’s electronically controlled drivetrain and chassis.

Drivers can configure a range of GTI driving profiles using what VW calls the GTI Experience Control. In addition to preferred custom configurations for the drive system, running gear, steering, sound, and simulated shift points, drivers will also be able to choose setups identical to those in iconic GTI models, such as the original 1976 Mark 1 Golf GTI, the 1986 Golf GTI Mark 4 with a 16-valve engine, and the 2001 Golf GTI Mark 4. The GTI EV will ride on 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels with 245/35 performance tires.

When and how much is the VW GTI EV?

Volkswagen GTI EV concept in red left rear three-quarter view on a loose gray gravel surface.

Volkswagen continues its aggressive plan to introduce the new electric model by 2026, which includes the ID .2all. If the first ID .2all in customer possession are then likely 2027 models, I suspect the GTI EV will arrive one year later for the 2028 model year. Hopefully, the U.S. models will be manufactured in the U.S. and will be available here at the same time. No prices are available yet, but because the target price for the ID .2all is 25,000 euros (about $26,700), it’s reasonable to expect the GTI EV will be $5,000 to $10,000 higher or somewhere in the range of $35,000 to $40,000.

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Bruce Brown
Digital Trends Contributing Editor Bruce Brown is a member of the Smart Homes and Cars teams. He also writes technology news…
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