For Volkswagen, GTI has always been associated with a four-banger hot hatch, if you don't count that time 15 years ago when the MkIV GTI dabbled with the big VR6 engine for a short while. That same generation also marked the occasion when the GTI moved to turbo power, a setup it's relied on ever since. But now, a paradigm shift is at hand: VW's three-letter hot hatch name is, for the first time ever, combined with hybrid technology.
You can't buy one of these just yet, though. The advent of hybrid tech on a VW GTI has debuted at the famous Wörthersee Volkswagen meet in Austria, and the special car has been built to commemorate the 10 years of Wörthersee show builds commissioned by VW – hence the name Golf GTI First Decade. Traditionally, these show cars have been designed by young apprentices, in the spirit of tuner cars often being metal incarnations of teenage dreams. The GTI First Decade is what you might call a mild hybrid hot hatch: there's a 410-horsepower gasoline engine driving the front wheels in regular mode, and then there is a 16-hp, 48-volt electric motor for the rear. The systems can work in combined mode, turning the car into an all-wheel-drive vehicle, or you can use just the gasoline engine, or run the car on pure electric power (unlike the 48-volt so-called mild hybrids we're used to); selections between the drive modes can be done on a tablet or the car's infotainment system.
Because it's a tuning show build, there are some special treats built into it: the handmade sports seats feature massage functions and the trunk has a 11-speaker, 1,690-watt sound system for all the German techno you would ever want to blast in the GTI First Decade. The exterior is similarly striking, as the Atlantic Blue paintwork has been partially covered with contrasting Satin Ocean Shimmer foil.