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GTI the story behind the badge

GTI     the story behind the badge
Omkar Thakur Omkar Thakur Thursday 03 November 2016, 15:43 PM

Badges for car makers have become more of a signature with every manufacturer carving out its own over the years. An AMG has to be a Mercedes or if it is a Polestar, it has to be Volvo, so on and so forth. In the world of performance motoring, the GTI badge has been worn by many, the first one being Maserati back in 1961 for the lovely 3500GTI. Volkswagen used the GTI badge for the first time on the Golf in 1976 and little did anyone know that the ‘people’s car’ maker would go on to immortalise it. It took exactly four decades for the first Volkswagen GTI, the Polo GTI, to officially land on our shores and here is why we are excited.

The GTI badge was introduced to announce that your grand touring car gets fuel injection in an era when carburettors ruled the roost. Fuel injection was only restricted to race cars which meant that your GTI had racing technology and obviously, more power. Volkswagen was the first to slap this badge on a budget hatchback. Though it wasn’t exactly ‘budget’, it packed performance within those puny dimensions – an offer, very few enthusiasts could deny. And since then, GTI has stood for performance – affordable, pure and practical performance.

The first Golf GTI in 1976 had a 1.6-litre fuel injected petrol mill that could push the car past 175kmph. The next generation Golf GTI got a 1.8-litre mill with 16 valves with a top speed nearing 200kmph. This was in the 80s when 200kmph was today's equivalent of 300kmph on Indian roads. The 80s saw the GTI badge go to the Polo as well as the Scirocco hatchbacks. Apart from the souped-up powertrains, they also ran sportier suspension setups.

In the meantime, Peugeot also got into the hot hatch frenzy, naming the performance cars GTI. It started with the 205 GTI and evolved into more GTI cars from the French car maker. The current generation 208 GTI and the 308 GTi get a 1.6-litre four-pot turbo-petrol generating 208bhp and 250/270bhp respectively. And yes, they come with a manual gearbox.

And so do Volkswagens. Most GTIs have the manual option standard as the people who opt for them prefer the stick. The current Golf GTI belts out about 225bhp from a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol while the Scirocco gets a 207bhp setup. The Polo, the smallest of the trio, gets the 1.8-litre TFSI engine that pumps 189bhp of power from the turbocharged four cylinder mill. All three of them get the six-speed manual transmission standard across the globe.

The Polo GTI is now in India and comes in as a completely built unit.The best part of the GTI is that it is a sleeper – an expensive performance car that is not loud in its styling. That is a good thing because you will not attract unnecessary attention as many would mistake it for the regular Polo until they spot the missing rear doors. The grille stands out with a red highlight with the GTI badge and large wheels make their presence felt. It gets an automatic gearbox so that you do not have to worry about shifting.

The GTI, as it turns out, is every boy racer’s dream badge. It bundles fun, performance, practicality and pure driving pleasure in your hatchback making sure you don’t have to mine your pockets to live with one.


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