2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI and 1984 Rabbit GTI – First Look and Review

Fahrvergnügen Continues, 30 Years Down the Road

By Jonathan Spira on 22 May 2014
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Having thoroughly enjoyed my first experience with the 2015 Volkswagen Golf last summer, I was looking forward in particular to driving the new VW Golf GTI, so much so that I could not get the “Kleiner GTI” song out of my head en route to its launch in the Bay Area.  It’s hard to believe the GTI is turning 30 this year in the States.

Kleiner GTI is a song from the commercial for the 1984 Rabbit GTI (the first-generation Golf was called the Rabbit in the States).  The commercial features jumping GTIs and a German-language sendoff of Ronny and the Daytonas’ song “Little GTO,” itself part of a series of muscle-car themed songs from the 1960s.  (Others included “Hey, Little Cobra” by the Rip Chords, “Boss Barracuda” by the Surfaris, and the Beach Boys’ “409.”)

The lyrics are short and to the point: Kleiner GTI / Du siehst prima aus / Ich liebe, dich zu fahren / Hol’ die Leistung raus. Literally translated it’s Little GTI / You look great / I love to drive you / Get the power.  Sounds much better in German.


Given the anniversary, I was surprised Volkswagen didn’t play the commercial with the song at the launch event but no one there seemed to be familiar with it.


While Volkswagen, on its website, describes the new 2015 Golf as the “modern hatch,” it simultaneously and quite correctly calls the GTI the “hot hatch.”  This is clearly not your father’s GTI, although I did drive his GTI right before putting the 2015 model through its paces.

The 1984 Rabbit GTI eclipsed the Rabbit diesel as VW’s best-selling Pennsylvania-manufactured car shortly after its debut.  The first thing I noticed about the GTI was its expansive greenhouse.  Designed before an age of increasingly thicker pillars and sail panels, I could see everything from the driver’s seat and didn’t miss the blind-spot detectors that today’s vehicles truly do require.

Click here to continue to Page 2Driving the Rabbit and Golf GTIs

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