As crazy as it sounds, the Volkswagen Golf could soon find itself in retirement…. But why?

When Volkswagen introduced the new 2020 Mk.8 Golf, we got to feast eyes on the Golf GTI, GTD, and GTE, a blend of trims that pretty much covered every desire imaginable. Later we got to lay eyes on the 2021 VW Golf R and Golf GTI Clubsport. I don’t need to tell you why any of these models is special, but did you know that only the Golf GTI and Golf R are sold here in the United States? That’s right! Outside of these two models, the rest of the Golf lineup is a forbidden fruit. It might seem a little early to think about the next-gen Golf considering the 8th generation is still practically brand new, but will there be another generation? And, what happens after that? Well, with the way the automotive industry is changing, that’s a very good question.

The Volkswagen Golf’s Days Are Numbered

The Volkswagen Golf May Only Have One Generation Left Before Retirement Exterior
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The Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport is so good that it makes the standard GTI look like a girl’s car, despite the fact that the new Golf GTI is actually faster on the track than the Mk.7 GTI Performance. The new Mk.8 Golf R? It was refined so much that it can sprint to 60 mph in just four seconds flat – a figure that was only attainable by supercars or high-end sports cars just a decade or two ago. The standard Golf is undoubtedly an icon, with the Golf name being on the market for 5 decades now, but Americans have, well, lost interest in the basic hatchback. Even the standard Golf, however, and in both hatchback and wagon form, is still a big deal over in Europe. There is a possibility, though, that the next decade could see interest die down, and that’s why the future of the Golf is being called into question. Is it really possible that the Golf may not be around all that much longer?

2020 Volkswagen ID.3 Exterior
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Right now, it makes sense for VW to manufacture the Golf, even if it’s only for the European market (seriously, they are everywhere), but with the introduction of models like the ID.3 – basically an electric equivalent to the Golf – there might not be need for the Golf anymore. In an interview with Top Gear, VW’s head of sales and marketing, Klaus Zellmer was asked to address this.

“I think for the foreseeable future the Golf [and the ID.3] will co-exist because the Golf is just too important. It's like a sub-brand. It's an icon”
2020 Volkswagen Golf Exterior
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And, that’s true, the Golf is most certainly an icon, and we can say there’s no good reason why a ninth-gen model won’t happen, but with electrification becoming not only key but a requirement of the future, Volkswagen will eventually have to alter its entire lineup – the Golf included, especially if consumer interests shift towards the brand’s ID lineup instead.

The Golf Name Won’t Die, But It Will Change Dramatically

2020 Volkswagen Golf Exterior
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With the Golf name being so important, it’s hard to imagine the company just killing it off and letting it spend the rest of eternity in the history books. But, the Golf as we know it today, may not be around a decade from now. Volkswagen will shuffle things around, use the name on something else – something that’s probably just as iconic as the Golf we know and love today:

“If we ever see the speed of transforming from engines to purely battery-electric vehicles is building momentum sustainably, I can see - if we do not need a combustion car anymore - that we can use that badge to sell a battery-electric vehicle. This is years down the road”
2021 Volkswagen Golf GTi Clubsport Exterior
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So, for now, there’s a good chance that the ninth-gen Golf will be limited to a plug-in hybrid drivetrain because, well, emissions. You can bet that as long as there’s a ninth-gen golf, there will be a Golf GTI and a Golf R, but once the Golf is force to transition or evolve into something new, the GTI and R badge could, quite literally, die as a part of that evolution. Zellmer himself couldn’t even provide Top Gear with an answer for what happens to the performance Golf models beyond the ninth generation.

No, The GTX Badge Isn’t Going To Replace The GTI

2022 Volkswagen ID.4 GTX Exterior
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After the launch of the ID.4 GTX last week and the promise that there will be more ID GTX models coming in the future, we concluded that the GTX badge will likely be the main performance and luxury arm of the ID lineup. As of now, the GTX badge simply represents the addition of premium equipment, all-wheel-drive and some visual exterior enhancements, but can it replace the GTI badge or will VW use the GTI badge on ID models?

No and No, actually. In fact the ID.4 isn’t even replacing the GTI for now. The GTI badge is too important for the Golf lineup, so VW may never use it on a batter electric vehicle and it will always remain segregated from other models:

2022 Volkswagen ID.4 GTX Exterior
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“GTI' is a performance sub-brand for the Golf, and in my opinion, we shouldn't dilute that with a battery-electric vehicle. [GTX] should be completely different from a GTI or GTD or GTE - we want people to understand the branding they buy into, and GTX is going to be top-notch.”

So, as for now the GTI badge will continue on as it has, and the Golf R will remain in production too, but a decade from now when the entire industry has been reshaped into something entirely different than it is today, anything can happen. The Golf name may end up on an electric vehicle, and its legacy will live on – that much is for sure. How exactly that legacy will live on, however, is going to be interesting to see, but 2030 isn’t that far away in the grand scheme of things, so it’s only a matter of time.

Source: Top Gear

Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topsped.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read full bio
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