Purists Rejoice: There Will Never Be a Volkswagen GTI SUV; Golf GTI Cruising Along Nicely in America

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
purists rejoice there will never be a volkswagen gti suv golf gti cruising along

Got your heart set on a 2018 Volkswagen Atlas, one with upsized wheels, stickier tires, bigger brakes, some red piping around the grille, and tartan seats?

I feel you. But Volkswagen’s illustrious GTI range is not about to co-sign any legislation on the other side of the aisle. Atlas? Tiguan? Tiguan Limited? Touareg? T-Roc? Amarok? Westfalia? Eurovan?


“I think with the three [GTI models] we have now, we are set,” Volkswagen board chairman Herbert Diess told Autocar.

Unfortunately for the United States hot hatch market, however, only one-third of Volkswagen’s GTI lineup actually makes it to America.

Maybe a Tiguan GTI wouldn’t be so bad?

Volkswagen’s Herbert Diess isn’t ruling out performance utility vehicles altogether. In reference to a hot version of the upcoming T-Roc, “We have another sub-brand R which we are considering [for such a model],” Diess says.

Diess is therefore open to the idea of fast Volkswagen crossovers, and why wouldn’t he be? The U.S. market, for example, now generates more total sales with SUVs/crossovers than with passenger cars. There are performance SUVs aplenty in the luxury sphere, enhancing profit margins and allowing buyers who want utility and performance to have their cake and eat it, too.

Adopting such a practice in a lower price bracket will surely seem obvious at some point. Yet for the time being, high-performance variants of mainstream SUVs/crossovers are rare, though an N-badged Hyundai Tucson seems likely.

Nevertheless, Volkswagen will reserve the GTI practice for hot hatchbacks. GTI, says Diess, “should be this car – a hot hatch.”

Despite great difficulties for the Volkswagen brand in America over the last few years — sales were plunging before the diesel emissions scandal rocked the automaker in late 2015 — the Golf GTI continues to be a success for the brand. Excluding wagons, 48 percent of the Golfs sold in the United States through the first five months of 2017 were GTIs. Factor in the all-wheel-drive Golf R and performance Golfs accounted for 60 percent of Golf hatchback sales and more than one-third of total Golf sales.

In fact, Golf GTI sales are up 2.5 percent, year-over-year, in early 2017, rising beyond the record levels achieved by the Golf GTI in calendar year 2016. Volkswagen of America reported 23,934 Golf GTI sales in 2016, 59 percent better than the annual average achieved by the Golf GTI over the previous decade.

Across the entire Golf performance lineup, GTI and R inclusive, Volkswagen reported 11,151 U.S. sales in 2017’s first five months, 2,379 fewer than Subaru managed with the WRX/STI lineup.

Volkswagen today revealed the sixth-generation Polo and its accompanying GTI variant, a 197-horsepower junior Golf that currently has a base price 30-percent lower than the Golf GTI’s in the UK. Furthermore, Volkswagen is expanding the GTI lineup with the Up GTI, a 113-horsepower A-segment hot hatch at roughly half the Golf GTI’s price point.

You can’t have those cars. And if you could, the price points likely wouldn’t be quite as attractive on this side of the Atlantic.

You also can’t have a Tiguan GTI, Atlas GTI, or Touareg GTI. The reasons in this case are different. Such vehicles don’t exist.

And won’t exist.

[Images: Volkswagen Group]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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  • Rreichar Rreichar on Jun 17, 2017

    I would buy a US version of the Golf R Estate wagon. Yeah it would be 45K in the US but heck of a price for what it is. I just bought a new GTI SE manual but came very close to buying a Golf R DSG. In the end it felt too much like a GTI to justify the price difference of nearly $15,000. I would love if they put the 2.0 liter in the Alltrack. I drove an Alltrack but felt it was a little pokey with the 1.8. Great car though. I am trying to convince my wife she wants one.

  • Superdessucke Superdessucke on Jun 17, 2017

    Saw it coming years ago. Pls don't let me be right. I'd prefer they resurrect the Brougham treatment for CUV/SUV, and leave performance models to cars.

  • Pig_Iron ASTC 3.0 AM radio was successfully demonstrated at CES. It is a common standard shared with terrestrial television, so the audio equipment is commonized for broadcasters. And no royalty fees to pay, unlike HDRadio which has been a less than stellar success. 📻
  • Art Vandelay Crimes that are punished with fines encourage abuse by those enforcing them. If it is truly dangerous to the public, maybe jail or give the offenders community service. People’s time tends to be very valuable to them and a weeks lost work would certainly make a high earner think twice. If it isn’t a big danger why are police enforcing it (outside of raising money of course). Combine it with a points system. When your points are gone you do a week imitating Cool Hand Luke.
  • Cha65697928 High earners should pay less for tickets because they provide the tax revenue that funds the police. 2-3 free speeding tix per year should be fair.
  • Art Vandelay So the likely way to determine one’s income would be via the tax return. You guys are going to be real disappointed when some of the richest folks pay no speeding fine the same way they minimize their taxes
  • Teddyc73 A resounding NO. This has "Democrat" "Socialism" "liberalism" "Progressivism" and "Communism" written all over it.