Heresy? Volkswagen Might Expand the GTI Lineup to Include Crossovers

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
heresy volkswagen might expand the gti lineup to include crossovers

Volkswagen may be a mainstream brand, but it’s difficult to criticize when it comes to the polish of its products. Regardless of how long their individual components actually last under sustained usage, climbing into a VW model frequently gives the impression that you’ve found yourself inside a quality item. If that’s all it took to make a great car, VW would be king of the scrap heap every year. Yet people tend to demand a lot from their vehicle, including performance, and that’s an area where the automaker often falters.

Going up in trim on a Volkswagen rarely includes a burlier powertrain. The brand is all about rightsizing the basics in the U.S., leaving the options list for technological enhancements and all-wheel drive. There’s also an expansive R-Line trim, but its upgrades are mostly cosmetic, offering the style of a performance trim with nothing to back it up. If you want real thrills from the manufacturer, you’d best select a Golf model with the GTI or R suffix.

What if you don’t want a modestly sized hatchback, though? It’s not like there will ever be a compact crossover equivalent, as VW promised the GTI name would remain exclusive to small, peppy economy cars back in 2017. Could an automaker go back on its word? Provided there’s sufficient time between promises made, of course it can.

We already know VW is testing a performance variant of the Tiguan (presumed to be the Europe-exclusive Tiguan R) at the Nürburgring, and the automaker has previously suggested expanding the GTI lineup to include more models. In the United States, that list is currently limited to the Golf, but other markets also have the Up! GTI and Polo GTI.

According to CarBuzz, the Tiguan is probably next, and it should come to North America. The outlet recently interviewed Hein Schafer, Senior VP for Product Marketing and Strategy, to ask if the un-fast crossover would receive the proper GTI treatment and come with a juicier motor. “I think we’re always looking at finding ways and means of finding more fuel-efficient engine options and, yes, with more horsepower,” he said. “So I think the answer is ‘yes.'”

At 3,757 pounds (before adding all-wheel drive or third-row seating), the standard Tiguan’s 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque needs to be thoroughly exercised to make anything exciting happen. But even the most passive driving enthusiasts will still find it to be unappealingly slow — which is why those who can afford to will often splurge on an Audi Q5.

From the sound of things, the prospective Tiguan GTI’s displacement will remain a svelte 2.0 liters. VW will probably just swap in the unit that powers the present-day Golf GTI, resulting in a small crossover with 228 hp and 258 lb-ft. Those figures will help it keep some distance from Audi (both in price and power) while also allowing VW to do the bare minimum to enter it into our market, as the manufacturer is technically already building this car.

In Europe, Volkswagen recently added a version of the Tiguan with the engine in question. It’s limited to the SEL and R-Line, comes with 4Motion all-wheel drive, has a 7-speed DSG, is fairly expensive at $45,600 (converted from British pounds), and requires a special order. But it’s otherwise identical to the vehicle we’re assuming will become the first non-car GTI. Initial tests place the model’s launch to 60 mph at a little over 6 seconds. By contrast, the standard Tiguan sold here takes almost 10 seconds after you’ve tacked on AWD.

Pricing will undoubtedly come down for our market and there’s likely to be some GTI badging. The rest should go largely unchanged. Expect more information to come out of Volkswagen in a few months when it shows off updates planned for the Tiguan’s 2021 model year.

[Image: Volkswagen]

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  • Superdessucke Superdessucke on Apr 23, 2020

    It's inevitable. Ford stuck the ST badge on upscale SUV and CUVs. Ford stuck the Mustang badge on a CUV. Porsche stuck the GTS and Turbo-S badges on the Cayenne. I believe there's already an "R-line" Tiguan and Atlas. The Tiguan GTI and/or R and Atlas GTI and/or R will likely be high content, very expensive flagship models, probably with Audi power trains, perhaps even electric. They won't compete with the sub-30k real GTI. They'll probably cost at least twice that.

    • FreedMike FreedMike on Apr 23, 2020

      I bet the Tiguan "GTI" would start a bit south of $40,000 - stupid money for a Tiguan, yes, but not unreasonable. Ford is asking about the same for a Edge ST. A T-Roc GTI would actually be cool.

  • Jmiller417 Jmiller417 on Apr 24, 2020

    VW should use the GLI badge for these. Similar performance cred to the GTI, but it won't piss off the enthusiasts.

  • Jeanbaptiste Any variant of “pizza” flavored combos. I only eat these on car trips and they are just my special gut wrenching treat.
  • Nrd515 Usually for me it's been Arby's for pretty much forever, except when the one near my house dosed me with food poisoning twice in about a year. Both times were horrible, but the second time was just so terrible it's up near the top of my medical horror stories, and I have a few of those. Obviously, I never went to that one again. I'm still pissed at Arby's for dropping Potato Cakes, and Culver's is truly better anyway. It will be Arby's fish for my "cheat day", when I eat what I want. No tartar sauce and no lettuce on mine, please. And if I get a fish and a French Dip & Swiss? Keep the Swiss, and the dip, too salty. Just the meat and the bread for me, thanks. The odds are about 25% that they will screw one or both of them up and I will have to drive through again to get replacement sandwiches. Culver's seems to get my order right many times in a row, but if I hurry and don't check my order, that's when it's screwed up and garbage to me. My best friend lives on Starbucks coffee. I don't understand coffee's appeal at all. Both my sister and I hate anything it's in. It's like green peppers, they ruin everything they touch. About the only things I hate more than coffee are most condiments, ranked from most hated to..who cares..[list=1][*]Tartar sauce. Just thinking about it makes me smell it in my head. A nod to Ranch here too. Disgusting. [/*][*]Mayo. JEEEEZUS! WTF?[/*][*]Ketchup. Sweet puke tasting sludge. On my fries? Salt. [/*][*]Mustard. Yikes. Brown, yellow, whatever, it's just awful.[/*][*]Pickles. Just ruin it from the pickle juice. No. [/*][*]Horsey, Secret, whatever sauce. Gross. [/*][*]American Cheese. American Sleeze. Any cheese, I don't want it.[/*][*]Shredded lettuce. I don't hate it, but it's warm and what's the point?[/*][*]Raw onion. Totally OK, but not something I really want. Grilled onions is a whole nother thing, I WANT those on a burger.[/*][*]Any of that "juice" that Subway and other sandwich places want to put on. NO, HELL NO! Actually, move this up to #5. [/*][/list=1]
  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
  • SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.