GTI is abbreviated as Grand Touring Injection. The badge was coined to tell everyone that your car ran the racing technology of fuel injection when carburettors were staple. Volkswagen was the first to paste it on a hatchback. But they weren’t the first ones to use it. Maserati used the GTI on the 3500 sportscar for the first time in 1961. Neither were VW the last ones to use it. Peugeot still has GTis rolling out of its factories. But it is Volkswagen who has got it to India first with the new Polo-based GTI.
It all started with the Golf, the first Volkswagen to get the GTI badge in 1976. It 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 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 in to 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.
GTI has always stood for performance – affordable, pure and practical performance. It isn’t exactly ‘budget’ but packs performance within puny dimensions – an offer a very few enthusiasts can deny.The best part of the GTI is that it is a sleeper – an expensive performance car that is not loud in its styling. If you get the GTI here in India, you can pass it off as a Polo to avoid unnecessary attention.
As it turns out, the GTI 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.