Here in America, we barely see our old friend the Volkswagen Golf anymore, seeing as how VW decided it’ll only send the hatchback our way in GTI and Golf R form. In our casual abandonment of the compact car space, it’s easy for us to forget what a huge, huge deal the Golf is in the rest of the world (VW has sold over 35 million Golfs over the past 50-ish years). That’s why today’s news that the next Golf will not have an internal combustion engine at all is a pretty earth-shaking announcement, even if it doesn’t feel that way to us.
In fact, I’d argue this is one of the biggest shifts toward EVs the auto industry has ever seen. This is not just an automaker rolling out a new mass-volume electric car like the ID.3 or ID.4; it’s taking an existing one that’s a staple of the scene, a pillar of global sales, and rolling the dice on it going battery-only. It’s hard to overstate the importance of this move on VW’s part.
VW’s brand boss Thomas Schaefer told German trade pub Automobilwoche that this is indeed the plan after the current MK8 Golf, which went on sale in late 2019 and receives a “comprehensive” mid-cycle update next year. “That puts it in a great position until the end of the decade. Then we will have to see how the segment develops,” Schaefer was quoted in a translation from Automotive News.
Schaefer seemed to hedge a bit, as all of these automakers are wont to do no matter how aggressive their EV push is, but it sounds pretty set in stone from where we’re all sitting now: “If the world develops completely differently than expected by 2026 or 2027, then we can also launch a completely new vehicle again. But I don’t expect that to happen. So far, that’s not planned,” he said.
This shouldn’t be terribly surprising a few weeks after we saw the Volkswagen ID.2all Concept, which looks like a Golf, is sized like a Golf and is priced like a Golf. VW has also said repeatedly it expects the brand to go fully EV in Europe by 2033, and we’ve also heard Schaefer wasn’t a fan of the angular and aggressive VW ID.Life concept that was expected to be the next cheap EV volume-seller. Hence, it’s no great shock the decision was made to go this route with the next Golf.
And what this means for the Golf-esque ID.3 isn’t exactly clear, but it feels like the plan is changing somewhat. From that story:
Again, this makes sense. Automakers that want to go all-EV—which is quite a few of them right now—would be stupid to abandon names with decades of brand equity and recognition like “Golf” and “3 Series” and even “Mustang.” So while a lot of EVs are standalone newcomer models for now, I could see many more automakers just moving the traditional lineup over to electric power and keeping the names, sizes and hopefully prices people are used to.
Granted, Golf sales have been down somewhat in Europe in recent years with the popularity of the small T-Cross (yes, the crossover takeover is happening everywhere now) but supply chain issues may have factored into that as well. The point is, one of the original modern compact cars—a name that dates back to 1974 and set the trajectory of that segment for decades to come—will likely be entirely electric in a few years, and that’s crazy to see. It’s also great news for affordable EVs in general.
Now, the bummer is the ID.2all/Golf EV won’t come to America either, which is a shame; I really like the size, price and range on offer here. But! VW has said it’s going to make a hot hatch version, or versions, because it’d be absolutely stupid to abandon the Golf R and GTI models. Unlike the regular Golf, those cars still have pretty fervent fanbases here in America.
Could VW at least bring us an affordable, decent-range EV hot hatch? The wacky new rules around tax incentives and EV production make that tricky, but I’d certainly love to see it and I bet the Dubber crowd wouldn’t kick it out of bed for eating crackers. Here’s hoping—the VW EV lineup is good so far, but it could use a little more excitement than we’ve seen so far.
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Shouldn’t the plural of “Golf” be “Golves?”
…Type 4 revival when?
Mjea, I think we are couple of decades away from iconic with Tiguan.
Polo, Golf and Passat however are quite different story. Especially the Golf.
I happened to be in a VW dealer recently and sat in an ID4… by Job that thing is a bloated lump, and the fact that the ID3 isn’t for North America just makes me hold out hope for an EV replacement for my current SportWagen that isn’t a crossover. Dare to dream.
Living in the UK I fully expect the UK and EU proposals to go EV only by 2035 will be pushed back or scrapped. Germany is already trying to get an exemption from the EU to allow petrol cars to still be sold if they use synthetic fuel. The EV infrastructure just isn’t anywhere near ready and our electricity grids wouldn’t be able to handle every household charging EVs all at the same time (overnight). A large percentage of households also don’t have driveway parking, they live in apartments or older terraced houses and so switching to driving an EV is difficult/ brings massive compromises. I honestly can’t see it happening as proposed.
Just because new petrol cars won’t be sold, doesn’t mean all the old ones will be banned. It’ll take at least twenty years after they stop selling them before ICE vehicles start to fade away.
I’m with you on the parking problem though. It’s rare I can park my car within sight of my house, there’s no way for me to charge an EV at home.
Hmmm. Add some rear door handles, some buttons inside for getting things done, bring it to North America and then let’s talk. My chequebook is in reach.
Hate the new look, the front end makes it look more like a Bolt or a Sonic.
I had committed to get a Golf within the next 2 years. I guess I’ll be giving someone else my money.
Change the Golfs over to EV only, fine. But the GTI and the R will be a real bummer when sold as EVs. Most EV’s are fairly fast. Most EV’s are fairly heavy. There will be little differentiating them from any other appliance sold today or in the future.
“It’s clear that we will not be giving up iconic names like Golf, Tiguan and GTI”
Since when is “Tiguan” “iconic?”
Haha. I had the same thought.
iconic is absolutely the most overused superlative in writing today. It’s lazy and diminishes the actual meaning of the word.
It’s iconic for how mediocre it is. In a class of completely soulless appliances it somehow stands out as being one of the most soulless of all of them. I’ve never seen a comparison where it does any better than “middle of the pack” and you’d have to be out of your goddamn mind to pick it over any of the Japanese alternatives.
Hell I’d rather roll the dice on a Subaru CVT than role the dice on modern VW. And I’d know! My sister bought a Tiguan (against my advice I’d like to add) and she and her husband got out of it after only 2 years because of how many problems it had. Just get a damn CRV or RAV-4. They’re remarkable at being unremarkable…and if you need a little extra flavor the Forester Wilderness is pretty neat.
I think he meant to say “Holy Grail”.
I think Tiguan has been their best selling model the past few years, outselling Golf.
Still a stupid, portmanteau name though.
How about a properly tossable 3-door hatch again?
I don’t think it would be THAT hard to replicate the GTI’s driving experience with an EV. It’s been the same formula for years-just enough power to slightly overwhelm the front tires, decent steering, and a chassis that’s stiff enough for fun but not so stiff that it doesn’t make for a good all arounder. It’s hovered at 200-240 or so horsepower for the last 15 years.
A single electric motor at the front and an LSD should have that covered fine, although they’ll need to do some work to lighten the car a bit. That being said I don’t think they’re going to have an easy time replicating the Golf R. What they’d need to do would get really heavy really fast…and part of the joy of the ice versions of these cars (and I’ve driven both) is, as you mention, how tossable they are.
Yea an ev gti doesn’t really need to be any faster that the chevy bolt ev. Just better handling in a sleeker package.
Funny, my golf experiences are usually lessened by the presence of electricity, whether in the cart motor(bad) or from the sky (worse).
I disagree with basically every exterior and interior decision with the ID line, so hopefully this is a sign of VW pivoting from that failed (IMO) exercise
…but will it have a usable infotainment system? That’s what I want to know. And while I can’t help but assume that an electric powertrain is going to be a massive upgrade over VW’s temperamental ICE engines, if there’s a company that can find a way to make an unreliable EV it’s certainly VW….not to mention Ze Germans and car electronics go together about as well as food off the 711 rollers and a fistful of laxatives and/or 7-8 dirt cheap beers. It’s not a matter of “if”, it’s a matter of “when”.
Yeah, it’s one thing to have to hold down an infotainment button a few times a week like I have to do in my wife’s Atlas, but I don’t want the same experience with the drivetrain. I haven’t followed the id.4 all that close to see if they are doing well, once I sat in one and it was just an awful place to be vs the slightly more expensive Ioniq5. I never have issue with infotainment glitches in my N Line but as I look at used Arteons as a potential replacement, I just don’t know if I want to deal with that mess.