With all the adoration I hold for the seventh generation (MkVII) VW GTI hot hatch, I wonder if it’s going too far with the GTI badges.
Admittedly it’s a matter of opinion that the last two GTI’s weren’t stylistically perfect—I felt the rear of the MkV wasn’t as striking as the front, and conversely the rear of the MkVI was too good for the bland front—the MkVII seems to finally mesh a clean slate all the way. Yet where the new model fails in my eyes is it’s gone from a sleeper with modest exterior changes of past GTI’s (usually only two GTI badges for either end, a red stripe near the grille, and some different wheels) and moving into a BMW M/Mercedes AMG amount of eye candy.
While the MkVI and MkVII removed some of the silence by stretching the exhausts to either side of the rear fascia (which I appreciate), it lessens the wall-flower attitude of the original recipe by enlightening other drivers with fender badges near the mirrors, and red brake calipers with “GTI” contrasted in white (the latter on “extended performance” package). It’s not that the GTI is a slow car—with an estimated base output of 217hp and 225ftlbs it has the right to be shouty—but the fact it doesn’t flash the massive scoops and spoilers of SRT’s, Mazdaspeeds, Si’s, and hot Impreza’s is part of what makes the GTI one of the best. One can visit the in-laws with their kids in back, and more than likely they won’t look at you with eyes saying grow up, you’re not a street-racer.
The original MkI and new MkVII
The GTI has the new Focus ST nipping at it, as well. Yes, the ST is a flashy package, but by how much? Two red badges and a somewhat modest body kit (it’s no SRT4 Caliber) is fairly subdued. Get a black or silver one and you’re golden. What’s being done now to the GTI is suitably subtle, but raises the question of how far might this go in the future.
I suppose we’ll see if they add “GTI” to the MkVII or MkIII wheel spokes to see if the badging continues, like BMW and AMG have done for so long.
Additional images and added info of MkVII: