By on April 22, 2020

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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32 Comments on “Heresy? Volkswagen Might Expand the GTI Lineup to Include Crossovers...”

  • avatar

    Golf/Jetta : Gets back the 170hp 1.8T
    GTI/GLI: 241hp 2.0T
    Tiguan/Atlas Cross/Passat/Atlas(standard) : 235hp 2.0T (just be sure it can run okay on 87 octane)
    Atlas(optional)/Areton/Golf R : 300hp 2.0T

    Budack cycle engine goes to hell where it belongs.

  • avatar

    Just what we need – put performance badges on lumpy, dumpy, fat, and bloated pieces of road garbage.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    It doesn’t make much difference, really. Call it a GTI, but the informed people of the car world know the only true GTI is actually the Golf.

    It’s just a trim name now, just like BMW and M.

    • 0 avatar

      Doesn’t bother me that much, as long as the “GTI” trim offers a major performance boost, which it appears will be the case here. My main issue with this vehicle is that it’s probably going to cost a small fortune.

      Now, if you want the “badge-only performance” trim from VW, that’s the “R-line”.

  • avatar

    It’s a solid marketing move, and I wonder why they haven’t done it before.

    Yes, it’s a shame that this thing will be slower than a “real” GTI, and will probably cost an arm and a leg, but if the auto industry is bent on shoving CUVs down our throats, we might as well be able to get one that isn’t slow.

  • avatar

    Bound to happen these days.

  • avatar


    Give the GTI 4Motion, or if you must, also add on a suspension lift and make a rally special out of it.

  • avatar

    “Give the GTI 4Motion”

    That, with some additional horsepower, is already the Golf R.

  • avatar

    Just make a GTI estate.

    Over in Europe they had a Golf R Estate.

  • avatar

    Ugh – it’s like Ford and ST

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      No, they would have to get rid of the real Golf R and GTI and then affix GTI badges to something that is left. I mean the insult is that they wouldn’t even do a Mustang ST…or SVT…or SVO for that matter.

      Yes, I am a bitter ST owner that really wanted the new one. Shame.

    • 0 avatar

      And Lexus and F-Sport.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re probably referring to the Edge and Explorer ST, which I wouldn’t buy. But they’re not “appearance packages” – they do offer real performance upgrades over the base models.

      We’re probably going to have to come to grips with the fact that in the future, more and more “enthusiast” cars are going to be CUVs. Heresy? Yes. But that’s where the market is going.

  • avatar

    “GTI all the things” is a good mantra.

    Remember when power windows and A/C were options? Then one day, they weren’t–because it was simply cheaper to build them in at the factory, given the take rate.

    I say, simply GTI all the things at the factory and leave it at that. Does the SUV/CUV perform like the hatchback? No, but it’s not supposed to. Compared to non-GTI models, does it perform like the GTI hatchback does compared to the non-GTI hatchback? Yes.

    Stop making slow and crappy handling things. GTI all the things.

    Every Atlas should make the first-time driver go, “wow, I had no idea it didn’t have to be a barge like the Telluride is”.

    GTI all the things.

  • avatar

    I have three words to say about this news: Don’t, Give, a Sh!t.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    This would be a good option for us. We were looking at a CX-5 Grand Touring Reserve with the 2.5T but my wife doesn’t care for the seats. She wants something with more than just a base engine.

    I hope it would get decent gas mileage though..their detuned 2.0T is pretty bad.

  • avatar

    Since there is no danger of this happening, I’ll say that I’d buy a GTI version of the Tiguan.


    If it came with a 6 speed MT.

  • avatar

    Next up:
    Ferrari SUVs
    Maserati pickup trucks
    Lamborghini school busses
    Bugatti creeper vans
    McLaren minivans

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      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.

  • avatar

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

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