The original GTI had the fortune of being brought to the States at a time when performance cars were at their nadir. Originally offered in Germany in 1976, the GTI’s American debut wasn’t until October of 1982, when it was introduced as a 1983 model. By that time, the Firebird could be ordered with an Iron Duke, the Renault Alliance had supplanted the Camaro Z28 as Motor Trend’s Car of the Year, and car enthusiasts of all stripes had little reason to not take a bath with a toaster. But while the rest of the hatchback market was saturated with wretchedly economical and relentlessly cost-cut cars, the GTI’s arrival showed it was possible to have your cake and eat it, too.
Source: Motive Mag