The Worthersee Treffen is one of the more unique auto events on the calendar. It’s far from a traditional auto show, but it’s been home to some pretty incredible debuts over the past few years. Remember, this is the same event where companies like Audi and Volkswagen make yearly concept debuts. VW, in particular, holds Worthersee in high esteem because, in addition to debuting models at the event, it uses the venue to introduce apprentice-built concepts of the Golf GTI the Volkswagen Vocational Training program. This year, 13 apprentices are headed to Worthersee to unveil the newest one-off model of this unique lineage: the Volkswagen Golf GTI First Decade.
For those who aren’t familiar with the VVT program, it’s essentially a training ground for up-and-coming designers and engineers. These trainees are given the opportunity to design their version of the ultimate Golf GTI. This year, the Golf GTI First Decade takes center stage as the first GTI concept to feature electric propulsion. While it is a concept car by definition, it’s interesting where these young minds see the future of Volkswagen. Whether an electric future actually happens or not is another issue entirely, but if it does, consider the Golf GTI First Decade as a precursor to what that future could look like.
“While it is technically a one-off concept, the Volkswagen Golf GTI First Decade doesn’t look the part of a traditional concept car.”
While it is technically a one-off concept, the Volkswagen Golf GTI First Decade doesn’t look the part of a traditional concept car. It’s an actual Golf GTI in physical form, albeit with noticeable changes to its presentation. That’s where these 13 apprentices come into the picture. Part of their responsibility was to design the compact hatchback any way they see fit. In the case of the Golf GTI First Decade, the design interpretation manifests itself in a number of different ways, none more prominent than the use of an Atlantic Blue Metallic paint finish that’s inspired by the lake where the Worthersee Treffen gets its name.
“There are three dramatically different tones of blue used on the hatchback.”
Further emphasizing the water-theme are the large areas of foil on the doors and rear side panels of the hatchback that are finished in a Satin Ocean Shimmer color and stripes of glossy blue chrome foil found on the racing stripes on the hood and roof of the car. Altogether, there are three dramatically different tones of blue used on the hatchback. All three combine to make a visually striking aesthetic in line with past VVT interpretations of the Golf GTI.
Finishing off the exterior details include high-gloss black paint on the hatchback’s trademark honeycomb front grille, a Clubsport rear spoiler, and a new set of 20-inch alloy wheels that come with wheel hubs painted in the same Ocean Shimmer finish as the sides of the car. For cosmetic purposes, the VVT apprentices also threw in a number “10” on the C-pillars and a “First Decade” logo on the tailgate signal to denote its status as the 10th Golf GTI to undergo this kind of transformation.
For those who aren’t familiar with past works from previous apprentices of the Volkswagen Vocational Training program, let’s take a look back at some of the designs from the past few years.
Volkswagen Golf GTI Heartbeat
note: photo of the 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI Heartbeat
Last year’s presentation was the Golf GTI Heartbeat, an equally dramatically-styled interpretation of the hatchback that came with its own three-tone finish primarily featuring Matte Dark Grey and Silver Metallic on the body. Splashes of red trim throughout the body of the Golf GTI and a honeycomb-like livery on the hood, roof, and sides of the hatchback bring some life to the overall aesthetic appearance of the Golf GTI Heartbeat.
Volkswagen Golf GTI Dark Shine
note: photo of the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI Dark Shine
This particular iteration of the Golf GTI broke cover in 2015 and it featured a similar design treatment as the Golf GTI First Decade, specifically the treatment of the two-tone color. The Dark Shine did differ when the apprentices that worked on it used a Daytona Grey Metallic paint finish on the front and an R-Yellow Pearl color in the rear and the racing stripes. The yellow tone was also used as trim on the body of the Golf GTI, most notably in the front section where a yellow strip runs across the whole width of the front, from headlight to headlight.
“The interior upgrades are a combination of form and function.”
Whereas the exterior work on the Golf GTI First Decade revolved more on creating a unique aesthetic look for the compact hatchback, the interior upgrades are a combination of form and function. The sports seats are completely handmade and are dressed in Titanium Black Nappa leather and Alcantara with some decorative blue stitching thrown in for good measure. The central section of the Golf GTI First Decade also received some Alcantara treatment with a matching blue background to further synthesise the overarching theme of the car.
Not content with these additions, the young apprentices also added decorative strips around the air outlets and the instrument cluster. Not surprisingly, these strips are painted in the same Ocean Satin Shimmer paint finish that’s prominently displayed in the body of the hatchback. This particular can also be found on the steering wheel clasp, the decorative trim strips on the sides of the cabin, and the dark blue trim above the glove box with a “First Decade” logo.
“The most prominent change in the cabin is the complete removal of the rear seats and the luggage compartment.”
As notable as these upgrades are, the most prominent change in the cabin is the complete removal of the rear seats and the luggage compartment. In their place, the young apprentices from VVT installed a high-end sound system with 1,690 watts coming from 11 speakers and a subwoofer, as well as a special rear HIFI installation that comes with its own LED lighting and sits on a carbon-covered base plate.
The changes are significant by every measure, even if there are some polarizing elements to it. In a lot of ways, the cabin of the Golf GTI First Decade isn’t far off from past versions of the Golf GTI that were subjected to the VVT program.
Volkswagen Golf GTI Heartbeat
note: interior photo of the Volkswagen Golf GTI Heartbeat
The theme of the Golf GTI Heartbeat is as specific as it can get. That much was shown in the interior of the hatchback where EKG signatures were scattered throughout the cabin. In addition, the same red honeycomb inserts can also be found in the cabin, specifically in the air vents. Move outside the cosmetic additions and there are new sports seats that were taken from the Golf GTI Clubsport S. The seats themselves come with Crystal Grey headrests, tan side bolsters, seat backs finished in Gloss Red, and a black middle section with red honeycomb perforations. A silver roll cage was also installed and just like the Golf GTI First Decade, there’s a new audio system with a head-thumping 1,360 watts of power going through seven speakers. LED lighting is another prominent feature of the Golf GTI Heartbeat and can be found illuminating the amplifier and the honeycomb mesh-covered subwoofer.
Volkswagen Golf GTI Dark Shine
note: interior photo of the Volkswagen Golf GTI Dark Shine
For my money, the interior of the Volkswagen Golf GTI Dark Shine is the best-looking of all the VVT-created Golf GTIs that I’ve seen. It certainly helps that the black and yellow theme appeals to me, but credit goes to the people behind this car for applying that same theme in the interior. Most of the interior’s surface is covered in gray, including the upholstery on the Recaro sports seats and the rear bench. The yellow trim is also visibly present on the steering wheel, the surrounds of the A/C vents and instrument dials, the contrast stitching, and the lettering on the GTI logo on the bucket seats. The conservative use of yellow was a smart choice because it prevented the cabin from becoming too loud for its own good. That played into the other notable addition of the Golf GTI Dark Shine: a 3,500-watt audio system that also includes eight speakers, three subs, and a central subwoofer and amplifier that are both lit by LED lights.
This is the section where the Volkswagen Golf GTI First Decade dramatically departs from the treatment used by its predecessors. The biggest reason for that is the decision to go with a hybrid engine for this particular creation. Not only is it a first among the 10 Golf GTIs that have gone through the VVT program, it’s also a first among all Golf GTI models, period. For this particular model, the apprentices decided on using a 410-horsepower gasoline engine to drive the front wheels. This engine works in concert with a 16-horsepower, 48-volt electric motor that powers the two rear wheels. When combined, the Golf GTI First Decade can run on all-wheel drive, or in certain cases where one power source is enough, the hot hatchback can use either the gasoline engine or the electric motor independent from one another.
As far as custom Volkswagen Golf GTIs go, the First Decade is actually more than just a concept. It’s the physical embodiment of the potential of the students under the automaker’s Vocational Training program. The car is well-designed and developed in a manner that’s appropriate to the lineage of the Golf hatchback. It also boasts a forward-thinking hybrid drivetrain allowing it to fit into whatever future plans Volkswagen may have for the model. Most of all, it’s a testament to the skill of these young apprentices. The names and faces may have changed as the years go by, but Volkswagen’s Vocational Training program continues to prove its worth as one of the best breeding grounds of future auto designers and engineers.