From the Armchair – The GTI is hot! A 5-door GTI Would Be More Hot

Okay, I know. In the USA, since its inception, the GTI has only been offered in a 3-door configuration. 5-door models have been destined to wear Rabbit or Golf badges and not the fabled three-letter nomenclature that gets almost any sport-inspired Volkswagenphile’s blood going (with the exception maybe of the Scirocco and Corrado nuts out there). Still, the GTI is the icon of the hot hatch market and 5-doors are currently all the rage – from hybrid car/SUVs such as the Infiniti FX, to compacts like the Mazda3 and Toyota Matrix.

5-doors may not be quite as “cool” as 3-doors, but they have something the 3-door does not – practicality. Some of us have kids, or more than one guest who don’t like to play contortionist every time they enter or exit our car.

If you read these pages, then you know I’m one of those VW owners who covets our European neighbor’s GTIs. I’m the OEM+ flag-waver behind our 4-door Project Golf 1.8T project car. Instead of hardcore engine and body kit goodies, I’ve spent my time and money on piecing together what is not much different than a 4-door GTI… with a few upgrades.

They may not look much different than the Golf, but anyone who’s driven both Golf and GTI Stateside knows there’s a painful amount of equipment difference between Golf and GTI models – let alone the R32. Golfs get small-bolstered seats, boring suspensions and wheels, etc., etc., while cars like the recent 337 and Anniversary Edition GTI get bespoke 18-inch wheels, Recaros, body kits and more.

Not too long ago I booked a weeklong drive with a 20th Anniversary Edition GTI from Volkswagen. The car had the kind of kit and equipment that I’d install on my own vehicle. It’s one of the few VWs I’ve driven that I’d do virtually nothing to – no fiddling, no changing things… a big plus for my wife. I used the car for a trip to Custom Import Performance in Pennsylvania to pick up a set of European market Recaros for our Project Golf and used the time on the long drive to get acquainted with the car. What I found was that, compared to our 2000 Golf GLS 1.8T project car, the GTI was nearly perfect straight off the lot.

Loading the Recaros into the car, though, it became painfully apparent how much more I relied on my more utilitarian 5-door. Sliding the seats into the GTI without scraping them along the carpet from the back of the car became an act of flexibility from the front.

Let’s face it – the Golf is not a car in the spirit of the Corrado or Scirocco. It is upright, and more utilitarian compared to Volkswagen’s past sports coupes. 5-doors suit its character, and many 5-door loyalists have emailed us over the course of our Project Golf series to voice their agreement.

Like-mindedness from enthusiasts is one thing, but like-mindedness from Auburn Hills is the only way to get closer to a GTI 5-door we can buy versus the painstaking task of personally putting one together as has been done with our Project Golf.

Enter Len Hunt, stage left. I’ve spoken of Len last month in a very positive manner due to his motorsport enthusiasm as shown through his support of the North American R8 efforts in the ALMS during his stay at the helm of Audi of America. Len’s a genuine enthusiast who ran Audi of America for several years and is now working his magic at Volkswagen.

I recently ran into Len in a hotel lobby the day before the Paris launch of the new GTI and had the chance to sit down with him over a beer and chat about the new car. It turns out both Len and his wife have been Golf owners, even before they met. Len’s a Brit, so it’s no surprise he’s a fan of the GTI – specifically the five-door.

As we talked about the cool, new 2.0T-powered fifth generation GTI, Len showed his like-mindedness with those of us 5-door loyalists. “I’ll take mine in white, with 5-doors,” he said.

I asked him if he was serious. Would he bring one over for himself, or spread the 5-door love around? The answer – “It could happen.” Len’s not the only one who wants one. There are fans of the 5-door configuration in product planning also. The very important information they’d like to know is if there’s interest elsewhere. We all agreed over beers that VWvortex is a great place to ask. So I throw the question to you readers:

Would you be interested in a 5-door GTI in North America?

Please keep in mind that no matter how positive our readers might respond to the proposal, the GTI 5-door is not yet confirmed. As such, it won’t be in the lineup when the new GTI hits these shores next year. But, Volkswagen has its ears open in regards to bringing it on over to our side of the pond. The idea is an intriguing one to them – they just need a reason to do so.

Can we give them several?

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