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In 1975 a sports-oriented variant of the Volkswagen Golf, called the Golf GTI was introduced in March of that year at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The idea behind was rather straightforward - take a basic-transportation economy car and give it a high-performance package, making it practical and sporty. It was one of the first small cars to adopt mechanical fuel injection. In 2004, Sports Car International declared the Golf Mk1 GTI to be the 3rd best car of the 1980s.
This special model was powered by a 1588 cc four-cylinder engine fed by a Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, which helped it develop a respectable 110 PS (80 kW) @ 6,100 rpms and 140 Nm / 103 lb-ft) of torque @ 5,000 rpm. Aided with a curb weight of just 810 kg / 1,785 lbs), it allowed the GTI to accelerate 0-60 mph in 9 seconds. The top speed was of 180 km/h (some 110 mph). The term "hot hatch" was retrospectively applied to the Mk1 Golf GTI some years later.
Many regard the Golf GTI Mk1 as the first Hot Hatch on the market, it was in fact preceded by the Autobianchi A112 Abarth in 1971. The Golf GTI was perhaps the first hot hatch with mass market appeal, and many other manufacturers since have created special sports models of their regular volume-selling small hatchbacks. Within a few years of its launch, it was faced with competition from cars including the Fiat Ritmo/Strada Abarth, Ford Escort XR3i, Peugeot 205 GTI, Renault 5 GT Turbo and Vauxhall Astra/Opel Kadett GTE.
Source: Wikipedia (original)