VW plans a lighter but stronger version of the GTI

Wolfsburg, Germany. A new 200hp Golf GTI with a top speed of 235kph will be available at German car dealers starting November 20. The basic price will be 24,200 euros.

VW hopes to revive the allure of the former GTI model with the new version.

In addition, Volkswagen is already working on an upgraded sports version, which could be launched on the market in 2005, said Joachim Rothenpieler, head of overall car development and engineering sector.

The sportier GTI should be significantly lighter than the ordinary version because of eliminated features and use of different materials.

"One hundred kilos less, that's my aim," Rothenpieler said.

He said that climate control and other heavy extras would become extra-cost options. And Volkswagen's 2.0-liter FSI turbo engine has not reached its developmental limits yet, so achieving 250hp or 260hp would not be a problem, he said.

Rothenpieler said that the level performance for GTI is a question of marketing, which very much depends on keeping it separate from the future R32 Super-Golf due in the summer of 2005.

That is VW's answer to the planned Astra sports models by Opel. The recently launched Astra Turbo has exactly 200hp. And Opel's planned OPC version is likely to have at least 240hp, as the concept car at September's Paris auto show showed.

VW plans to sell around 15,000 units a year of the GTI in western Europe. The car will be launched in the UK and other right-hand-drive countries in January.

The GTI will be available in the US market from the end of 2005, but without the GTI name and only in a two-door version.

VW design engineering boss Wilfried Bockelmann has said a diesel version of the GTI is also being considered.

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