top of page

Era-defining Hot Hatches: MkII Volkswagen Golf GTi 16v

When I was an adolescent my bedroom wall distanced itself from your archetypal Lamborghini Countach’s and Ferrari Testarossa’s.

Not physically, as my family didn’t live next door to a Lambo or Fezza dealership.

Or Alice, for that matter.


Because if nothing else, I was one of those erstwhile realists/pragmatists you read about; even during my formative years.

In my defence, my thought process and logic being that the chances of me becoming a movie or rock star when I grew up were at best, none existent. Yet the outside possibility of a career in Graphic Design was potentially achievable.

Therefore my aspirational car of choice would either be a Saab 90 Turbo or a MkII Volkswagen Golf GTi 16v. Befitting of affable creative individuals and decent all round human beings.

And estate agents.

Now, I wasn’t a fan of pre-Steve Jobs black rollneck tops and John Lennon-spec glasses, so I set my sets firmly on the GTi.

Hence why my teenage bedroom wall was adorned with Wolfsburg’s finest hot hatchery in MkI and MkII form and function.

And this week it’s as if my bedroom wall posters have come to life.

Alas, not in a Weird Science style, as it’s 2023 and all that. And (allegedly) I’m a grown up these days.

Actual story goes something like this.

One of our customers got in touch with us out of the blue and asked if we could put word around about a family member’s car they were about to advertise for sale.

Only it wasn’t just any car. Nor was it blue in colour.

Hot Hatch Benchmark

If there’s one car which supposedly defines 1980s excess that ISN’T a Porsche 944 in Guards Red, then it’s the far more subtle MkII Volkswagen Golf GTi 16v.

Whilst a very definite line had been drawn in the sand by the arrival of the MKI Golf GTi in 1975, a decade on and the MKII was firmly entrenched as the hot hatch benchmark of its day.

The undisputed throne by which pretenders measured themselves and mostly fell some way short.

Save for perhaps the Peugeot 205 GTi 1.9.

But that’s a different tale. And one for an independent Peugeot specialist to craft a blog about.

And it wasn’t just Peugeot who were at it by the late 1980’s. Renault had the 5 GT Turbo. Ford has its RS Turbo. Vauxhall had its Astra GT/E and even the Japanese contingent had their skunkworks departments tooling around.

Courtesy of crazily-engined hatchbacks which sported unconventional looks.

Who remembers the Daihatsu Charade GTti? With an additional ‘t’ for no good/explained reason.

Performance And Practicality In The One Hot Hatch Package

One of the predominant reasons the MkII Golf GTi reigned supreme was that it managed to blend performance and exciting driving with practicality.

Not one to hide its light under a bushel, Volkswagen’s sales blurb espoused about how the MkII GTi was ‘all things to all men’. And ‘as fast as any big name performance car and twice as practical.’

Going on to add how it was ‘as useable as any shopping hatchback but twice as much fun to drive.’

Fact of the matter was none of these confident claims could be argued against. As the second generation of the Golf GTi was the perfect package, in both 3 and 5-door presentation.

There was no need for a quick call to Trading Standards, as indeed the interior cabin space was capacious enough for a couple of adults along with a couple of their offsprings to sit in comfort. Yet still with more than enough room to spare for all the luggage.

Making the MkII Golf the ideal family GTi.

In terms of what powered the GTi, all came with the 1.8-litre engine lifted directly from its first gen predecessor. Which at first left some Veedub fans feeling a little short changed.

Until that is the 16v J-turned onto the Golf GTi scene a couple of years after launch.

Interestingly, not all cars sported the instantly recognisable 'GTi' bonnet badge though. Also while on the subject of discretion, the 16v monikers were finished in red and black and did appear on both the front and rear.

Albeit very subtly.

Other notable and welcome improvements over the MkI Golf GTi included suspension and brake upgrades; subsequently affording the sporty hatchback significantly better handling and road poise.

So, yeah.

A host of superlatives can be thrown in the general direction of the MkII GTi, with one in particular being richly deserved.

That is longevity.

The enduring appeal of the second coming of the GTi can be illustrated in the actual metal all these decades later. As opposed to glossy posters found on eBay.

Because there are countless Golf GTi’s from the late 80’s and early to mid-1990’s still in circulation. Whether as daily drivers or squirreled away for prosperity and/or the annual high days and holidays summer show rounds.

Which is more than can be said for the iconic Golf’s one-time closest rivals, such as the Peugeot 205 GTi, Ford Escort RS Turbo, Renault 5 GT Turbo, Vauxhall Astra GT/E et al.

Mostly having met their inevitable fate with the gods of rust years ago now.

Essentially, a combination of engineering prowess which sees the MkII Golf GTi's good for 300k without the need for a mechanical rebuild, coupled with a thriving aftermarket parts and tuning industry helps the cause massively.

All the above back story nicely leading us to this.

Hello, Ultimate MkII Golf GTi 16v

As you might have already guessed by now, the car in question that a customer of ours is looking to gauge interest in on behalf of a family member looking to part company with it, is a MkII Volkswagen Golf GTi 16v.

Not only is it all the above, but it’s finished in the best exterior colour VW has ever blended, in our opinion.

Oak Green Metallic.

Oh, and it sports the big bumpers which everyone wanted back in the day too. It also appears to sit on Ronal rims and has had its suspension tastefully lowered. It is, as you can observe from the images, stunning.

What’s more, it could be yours.

Naturally we’d love it to be ours, but as employee pool cars go it would be a nigh on impossible task of trying to convince the management that it would be money well spent.

If you wish to be put in touch with the seller, do, please drop us a line via our social media or through this website, and we’ll point you in the right direction.

In the meantime, just revel in the majesty of one of, if not THE finest looking hot hatches to have ever been manufactured.

43 views0 comments


bottom of page