Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is a cult car with a fanatical fanbase. Every summer, thousands of GTI devotees descend on Lake Wörthersee, Austria – almost all of them in modified Volkswagens. The 37th annual GTI-Treffen witnessed the world debut of VW’s Golf GTI TCR concept, among many other highlights. Join us for a guided tour.

Clean machine

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

Many cars at Wörthersee are parked with bonnets aloft, showing off super-clean engine bays. This Mk1 Golf Cabriolet boasts gold-plated fittings. Note the wood-effect wrap on the inner wings and scuttle, too.

Supercharge me

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

In 1990, Volkswagen added a supercharger to the Mk2 GTI 8v. The 160hp Golf G60 was the result – seen here looking stock apart from a set of BBS split-rim alloys. The ‘G-Lader’ engine was also used in the Corrado coupe and limited-edition Golf Rallye.

Hyper hatch

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

There are plenty of tuner demo cars on display at Wörthersee. This is Oettinger’s 500R – a 550hp Golf that hits 62mph in 3.4sec. Enough to worry a Porsche 911 Turbo…

Peak Golf

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

Volkswagen has built some pretty extreme Golfs of its own. This Mk2-based prototype raced America’s legendary Pikes Peak hillclimb in 1986. It has two turbocharged 1.3-litre Polo engines producing 250hp each.

Mk1 magic

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

The Mk1 Golf GTI wasn’t the first hot hatch, but it defined the genre. There’s huge affection for ‘Das Original’ among the fans at Wörthersee and – 42 years on – it remains a staple of the GTI scene.

Back from the brink

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

By contrast, the Mk3 Golf GTI is the least-loved of the breed. Its plight wasn’t helped by poor reviews and the arrival of a new flagship Golf: the 2.8-litre VR6. Today, it’s making a comeback, with plenty of tidy examples on show in Austria.

Brown sugar

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

Proof that it isn’t all Volkswagens at Wörthersee: this gloriously retro Audi 80 CD was a star of the campsite. In case the brown paint and alloys weren’t enough, it also has a brown velour interior.

Mark phwoar

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

A standard Mk4 Golf R32: nothing special there, you might think. But this Deep Blue Pearl car comes from Volkswagen’s Autostadt museum in Wolfsburg, meaning it’s probably the best R32… in the world.

Buggin’ out

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

The award for ‘most brilliantly bonkers car at Wörthersee’ goes to this rat-look VW Beetle roadster. It has bouncing hydraulic suspension, a chimney for an exhaust and a Pirelli P-slot alloy in place of a steering wheel.

Trailer parked

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

Another off-the-wall creation was this Mk3 GTI-based trailer. Inside, it offered sleeping space for two, a TV and a beer fridge. Cooler than a caravan, if a tad more cramped.

It’s a wrap

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

‘Dirty wraps’, as seen on this Audi TT RS, were big at Wörthersee 2018. A car’s paintwork is wrapped in sticky-backed plastic that looks filthy or rusty. Counter-intuitive, perhaps, but it stands out among all the perfect polished paintwork – and we guess that’s the point.

For the chop

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

Think there’s something a little odd about this second-generation (B2) Passat? Well, you’re right. The roof has been chopped in hot rod-style. With four doors and a hatchback to fit, that’s quite a feat of panelwork.

Yes to BBS

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

There’s just something about that classic Giugiaro shape. This Mk1 Golf wears an extra-wide side of BBS split-rims – the iconic wheels of the VW scene. It also has smaller steel bumpers, as fitted to early GTIs.

Brits abroad

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

A Mk1 GTI that’s driven all the way to Austria from the UK. Built by JRS DubGarage, it has a 2.0-litre TFSI engine and DSG semi-auto gearbox, both transplanted from a Mk6 Golf R. Those turbine-style alloys are one-offs, too.

Country life

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

The Mk2 Country remains one of the strangest special-edition Golfs. It had raised suspension, Syncro four-wheel drive, bull bars and a spare wheel mounted on the tailgate. The original crossover?

Citi life

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

The Citi Golf was effectively a continuation of the Mk1, manufactured in South Africa until 2009. It was only available with five doors, but a CTI version – launched in 1990 – used the same 1.8-litre engine as the original GTI.

Estate of the art

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

Are you brave enough to modify your brand new Audi? Some people clearly are, as this ‘slammed’ 2018 RS4 reveals. We’re not sure if the engine has been tweaked, although the standard 450hp and 443lb ft seems ample.

Batteries included

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

Wörthersee takes over the entire village of Reifnitz and seeing it all demands a lot of walking. These electric mini-GTIs were ideal for little legs and available to borrow at the show.

Porsche patrol

Crazy Golfs: celebrating the world’s greatest hot hatch

We spotted a few air-cooled 911s among the many, many Volkswagens and Audis. This 964 Turbo nailed the wide-arch look nearly three decades ago. Watch the slideshow below for more photos from Wörthersee 2018.

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In pictures: the world’s greatest hot hatch festival

Worthersee Volkswagen FestivalThe Austrian town of Reifnitz on the side of Lake Worth, or Worthersee, has hosted the ‘GTI Treffen’ festival for 36 years. Originally a small meet of Volkswagen enthusiasts (just 100 cars attended the first event), more than 100,000 fans from all over Europe now head to the Alps at the end of May. We sent a snapper to the event and captured some of the weird and wacky VWs in attendance.

Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTIWorthersee Volkswagen Festival

If Mk1 Volkswagen Golf GTIs are your thing, you’ll be well catered for at Worthersee. The event was first created to celebrate the original GTI, and there are still loads in attendance today. From the original example to modified ones like this bright yellow GTI, we can get behind the subtle look.

Mk3 Volkswagen Golf cabrioletWorthersee Volkswagen Festival

What were we saying about ‘subtle’? This modified third-generation Golf cabriolet is anything but. There really is something for everyone.

Audi A1Worthersee Volkswagen Festival

Although predominantly a Volkswagen show, there are other VW Group cars in attendance. Such as this interesting Audi A1, which we can barely see thanks to its camo look.

Audi 100Worthersee Volkswagen Festival

Brown with gold alloys doesn’t sound like a great look, but it works for us on this Audi 100.

Audi 50Worthersee Volkswagen Festival

The Audi 50 is what became known as the Volkswagen Polo… and the rest, as they say, is history. This fairly standard and incredibly tidy example received many admiring glances at Worthersee.

Volkswagen Passat CoupeWorthersee Volkswagen Festival

Remember when Passats were cool? This B1 generation Passat Coupe is closely related to the Audi 80 of the same era.

Mk1 Volkswagen GolfWorthersee Volkswagen Festival

In a town full of modified Vee-dubs, there’s something very refreshing about a pair of properly mint Mk1 Golfs as the factory intended.

Volkswagen campersWorthersee Volkswagen Festival

Well, if you’re visiting the Alps for a VW festival, is there a better way of doing it than an old-school VW camper?

Volkswagen BeetleWorthersee Volkswagen Festival

Thanks to their popularity, classic Volkswagen Beetles are still a relatively common sight on the roads. Plenty made it to Worthersee, including this lovely green example complete with skis on the back.

Volkswagen Polo G40Worthersee Volkswagen Festival

The Polo G40 is the result of what happened when VW bolted a supercharger to the 1.3-litre engine in the GT. Although it wasn’t incredibly powerful (it produced 115hp), it’d beat both the Fiesta XR2i and Peugeot 205 GTi in the 0-62mph run.

Volkswagen LupoWorthersee Volkswagen Festival

Ah, the VW Lupo. Pre-dating the popular Up, the Lupo wasn’t quite the sales success of its successor. They’ve got quite a following in Volkswagen circles, though. This was one of a number of modified examples on show at Worthersee.

Volkswagen Polo HarlequinWorthersee Volkswagen Festival

You can imagine the meeting that led to the creation of the Volkswagen Polo Harlequin. “We need to give the Polo a sales boost. Let’s launch a special edition. But what can we do with it?” The answer, apparently, was to paint every body panel a different colour. Around 3,800 were made (and presumably sold), including this modified example.

Volkswagen TouranWorthersee Volkswagen Festival

A Volkswagen Touran people carrier doesn’t seem the obvious choice as a base for a modified car. Name the VW, however, and you’ll probably find a modded version at Worthersee.

Mk2 Volkswagen GolfWorthersee Volkswagen Festival

We spotted this lovely Mk2 Volkswagen Golf in one of the car parks at Worthersee. The decals suggest it’s an Elite special edition… we don’t know much about it, but feel free to tell us more about it in the comments if you do!

Volkswagen Up GTI revealed at Worthersee

Volkswagen Up GTI revealed at Worthersee

Volkswagen has revealed a near-production concept of its new junior hot hatch, the Up GTI, at the annual GTI festival at Worthersee, Austria.

Producing 115hp from its 1.0-litre three-pot turbo engine, the Up GTI might not sound like the hottest of hatches. VW’s keen to draw links with the original Mk1 Golf GTI, however, which packed 110hp and weighed just 810kg. The Up GTI is set to weigh 997kg.

The new baby GTI will hit 62mph in 8.8 seconds (0.2 seconds quicker than the original Golf GTI) and is good for a top speed of 122mph. Its ride height has been dropped by 15mm, while a spoiler has been fitted to increase downforce (and definitely not just for appearance…).

Cosmetically, it gets all the GTI treatment. So, there’s a red stripe beneath the honeycomb radiator grille, while the door mirrors are finished in black. The Up GTI sits on 17-inch alloys and will be available in a choice of red, white, silver and black colours – as well as a new shade of blue bespoke for the GTI.

Pushing the link with the original GTI, Volkswagen says the Up is similar in size inside to the Mk1 Golf. Indeed, VW’s city car is sharing a stage with a mint example of a Mk1 at Worthersee. The Up’s interior features a leather-trimmed sport steering wheel, a GTI gear knob and the iconic tartan cloth seat pattern.

More Volkswagen Up on Motoring Research:

Buyers will be given a choice between three- and five-door models when the Up GTI goes on sale in 2018. Prices for the production version are yet to be confirmed, but expect it to come in at around £14,000.

Hybrid Volkswagen Golf GTI at Worthersee 2017

Volkswagen hits Lake Worthersee with hybrid Golf GTI

If this hybrid Golf is anything to go by, performance fans needn’t be worried about the future of the GTI brand in an era of post-Dieselgate cost cutting. Making its debut at the GTI fest that is Worthersee 2017, the Golf GTI First Decade combines a 410hp petrol engine with a 12kW electric motor.

It’s the work of 18 to 23-year-old apprentices at Volkswagen and is the latest of 10 show cars revealed at the Austrian lake-side extravaganza since 2008.

More Volkswagen on Motoring Research: 

The First Decade’s clever hybrid system can be operated in three different ways. Drivers can opt for rear-drive electric-only mode, or switch to front-wheel-drive petrol running. For ultimate traction (and performance), the two powertrains can work together as a four-wheel-drive hybrid. Interestingly, the different modes can be selected remotely using an app or via the car’s infotainment display.

Even by the vee-dub-crazy standards of Worthersee, the First Decade is sure to stand out – with Atlantic Blue paintwork and large patches of dark blue foil. A Clubsport rear spoiler completes the bold look, along with 20-inch alloy wheels.

Inside, there are just two seats. Both of these can be moved using a phone app, along with clever massage functions. Replacing the rear seats is, why, a high-end 1,690-watt 11-speaker sound system.

If one quirky concept wasn’t enough for this modified car show, Volkswagen is taking a second concept to Worthersee. The GTE estate Impulse is the work of 14 apprentices from the Zwickau vehicle plant, and uses a prototype battery with an impressive 16.8 kWh capacity.

Volkswagen hits Lake Worthersee with hybrid Golf GTI

Competing for attention with the GTI First Decade on VW’s stand, the Impulse features a five-tone matt paint scheme made up of a variety of colours. Inside, animated lighting can be controlled using a mobile phone app.

We’ll be seeing both Volkswagen concepts at Worthersee 2017 over the coming days, where Motoring Research will be reporting live with all the GTI news and latest pictures.


What is the Wörthersee GTI festival?

WörtherseeWörthersee is an alpine lake in southern Austria that each year becomes home to more than 200,000 custom Volkswagen Group car enthusiasts.

Backed by Volkswagen Group, the Wörthersee GTI-Treffen motoring festival showcases the most radical Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT and Skoda custom-built cars and is a key date in the European VW enthusiast calendar.

Held in the seaside town of Reifnitz, it’s been running since 1981 (usually in May) and the 2015 Wörthersee event will be the 34th event.

Europe’s largest event dedicated to Volkswagen and Audi is used as a showcase by the Volkswagen Group for its apprentices and interns: they usually create Wörthersee specials as official projects backed by the firm.

This year, Skoda will be showing five apprentice specials at the 34th Wörthersee GTI-Treffen, while Volkswagen will be showing a Golf GTI Clubsport concept and Audi has confirmed a TT Clubsport turbo concept.


Audi TT Clubsport turbo concept Worthersee 2015

Hot 600hp Audi TT Clubsport turbo concept for Worthersee 2015

Audi TT Clubsport turbo concept Worthersee 2015Audi will showcase a radical 600hp TT Clubsport turbo concept at the Worthersee tuner festival this week – and says the 192mph supercar-fast TT packs electric biturbo tech is “close to production readiness”.

The super-fast TT, which can accelerate from 0-62mph in just 3.6 seconds, has an electrically-driven turbo that responds far faster than normal turbos. It can also supply power for much longer, and can generate much higher turbo boost.

Audi TT Clubsport turbo concept Worthersee 2015

It’s powered by a dedicated 48-volt electrical system, powered by a lithium ion battery in the boot.

Audi TT Clubsport turbo concept Worthersee 2015

Audi says the result is 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine that “builds up its tremendous power without any perfectible delay”.

In a race against a TT with a similarly radical 600hp 2.5-litre engine but no electric biturbo, the TT Clubsport turbo “effortlessly pulls away”.

The effect is particularly pronounced off the line. Because turbo boost is there right away, Audi says the TT Clubsport turbo can cover 16 metres in 2.5 seconds – six metres (or one and a half car lengths) more than a regular car.

Such acceleration is achieved using a regular six-speed manual gearbox too (presumably Audi’s automatics and DSGs can’t handle the power of this mighty motor). How fast would it be with the fast-shifting DSG then..?

Prodigious torque of 479lb ft spread from between 3,000-7,000rpm also helps the car’s response. Audi is the first car maker in the world to pack an electric turbocharger into a direct-injection fuel injected petrol car – surely it’s not far off production?

Audi TT Clubsport turbo concept: no missing it

Audi TT Clubsport turbo concept Worthersee 2015

The TT Clubsport turbo concept is a full 140mm wider than a regular TT, thanks to radical front and rear wings that are open to improve airflow and brake cooling. There’s a massive manually-adjustable rear wing taken from Audi Sport TT Cup racers and, like various other aero parts, is made from carbon fibre reinforced polymer.

There are 20-inch alloys too, which, like the rest of the car, have been styled to reference Audi’s monster 90 IMSA GTO race cars of the 1980s. quattro all-wheel drive, adjustible coilover suspension and side-exit exhausts complete the race car credentials.

Audi TT Clubsport turbo concept Worthersee 2015

Inside, the interior has been fully stripped out and encased within an ultra high strength titanium cage. Weight savings are achieved by extensive use of CFRP and even the door pulls have been minimised down to mere grips.

Audi TT Clubsport turbo concept Worthersee 2015

The Audi TT Clubsport turbo concept will be the star of the brand’s Wortherseee 2015 show stand: it’s an event held in Austria dedicated to Volkswagen Group enthusiasts – come back to Motoring Research later in the week for more from Worthersee 2015.

SKODA CitiJet Worthersee 2014

Skoda CitiJet Citigo convertible created by apprentices

SKODA CitiJet Worthersee 2014Skoda apprentices have created a Citigo open-top show car called the CitiJet and the two-seat sports convertible will now take centre stage at the firm’s Worthersee GTI Fan Meet next month. Read more