By on May 3, 2019

2018 volkswagen golf family - image: Volkswagen

It sounds like something that should be taken with a grain of salt, though recent sales figures back up a report that claims the basic version of the eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf won’t make it to the United States.

The regular, non-performance version of VW’s long-running hatch wins praise for offering budget fun and above-par fit and finish, but the current generation’s replacement might not come here without GTI or R lettering on the back.

Motor1 reports that a Volkswagen employee at a first drive event in California said the regular Golf won’t return when the next-gen model arrives in 2020, and neither will a SportWagen variant. When contacted, the automaker reportedly wouldn’t comment on the employee’s statement.

The next-gen Golf is expected to see the light of day in October, making its way stateside sometime in 2020. While its platform remains the same as the Mk7 model, and its profile and footprint stay true to tradition, styling changes and a mild-hybrid powertrain await.

It seems unconscionable that VW would drop the Golf in favor of the hotter GTI and hottest R, but there’s no avoiding the fact that buyers are straying from the nameplate in huge numbers. Golf sales fell 51 percent in the U.S. last year and 20 percent in the first four months of 2019. In 2018, Americans took home 6,642 Golfs, compared to 16,684 turbocharged GTIs.

Volkswagen’s Golf R, the definitive hot hatch, saw 3,468 buyers last year, meaning basic Golfs weren’t even twice as popular as the significantly pricer performance model. SportWagen sales, including the relatively recent all-wheel drive Alltrack, totalled 14,123 units in 2018, down 47 percent from a year earlier, and 2019 sales show a 51-percent year-to-date drop.

The new-for-2019 Jetta, on the other hand, shows a 63-percent year-to-date increase this year, with sales totalling 30,834 units (to the basic Golf’s 2,159). Meanwhile, the higher-margin Tiguan and Atlas continue to climb. In 2019, as automakers face leaner years ahead, cost cutting runs rampant, and Volkswagen needs all the streamlining it can manage in order to fulfill its electric vehicle promises.

Again, the Golf’s future is a question mark. A VW spokesperson tells RoadShow that the basic next-gen model’s appearance in America remains “under consideration,” but factors exist to back up a decision to discontinue the U.S.-market Golf while keeping pricier variants alive.

(Update: Volkswagen of America’s head of product communications, Mark Gilles, reiterated the message given to RoadShow in an email to TTAC. The next-gen GTI and R are confirmed, while the basic Golf and SportWagen remain under consideration for the U.S. market.)

[Image: Volkswagen]

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41 Comments on “Report: Next-generation, Entry-level Volkswagen Golf Not Bound for U.S....”

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Americans prefer sedans. No surprise here, based on Jetta sales going back to 90s I’m sure. Hopefully Jetta 1.8T variants will pop up. They need an AWD sedan to compete with Altima and Mazda 3

  • avatar

    Seems kinda of silly, not everyone wants or needs a GTI , the Golf is a good choice to get folks into a hatch lifestyle and VW should spend to market it.

  • avatar

    This silliness better not sideswipe Canada’s choices.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Another example of how it’s becoming “If most people want SUVs and CUVs, then everyone must take them.” Props to VW for offering the sportwagen and Jetta GLI thus far. I also understand the new Golf will be available only as a four-door hatch.

    But do they know (or care) that I have no interest in their electric vehicles? I’m sure not. But I (and many others like me) are not going to buy something we don’t want – and will retreat to the used market if necessary.

    Don’t get me wrong: I’m not in the market for a base Golf and I understand VW’s likely actions. I’m not angry at them. But less consumer choice is never good. The government bureaucrats are finally killing the auto industry. Bob Lutz was right: It probably has less than 20 years left as we know it.

    • 0 avatar

      There are so many carmakers that you’ll have a choice to not go electric for some time. VW’s emissions cheating is why they have less wiggle room than other carmakers.

      That being said, 91 octane is $4.35/gallon here in LA. Sacramento takes 55.5 cents of every gallon sold and our roads, which require much less maintenance due to our mild climate, need help.

      It’s much cheaper to go electric right now.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s not cheaper to go electric. Comparable BEVs are more expensive, even after rebates. And let’s say a BEV can do 3.5 miles/kWh and is comparable to a compact that does 35MPG. Based on current LA regular gas and electric prices you’re saving $0.04/mile… with typical annual mileages most people will never make that money back.

    • 0 avatar

      If tons of people were lining up to buy Golfs, and VW was yanking it to “go electric,” I’d be ready to blame its’ U.S. demise on regulations. Nope, it’s the market.

      Americans just aren’t into hatchbacks anymore.

    • 0 avatar

      You can still buy a 5 door Civic, Corolla, 3, Elantra, Impreza or Soul… not to mention subcompacts like the Fit, Sonic and Yaris. Most if not all of these cars didn’t even exist in 5 door form in the US not long ago, so how exactly does the loss of 1 model offset the net gain of 6? Don’t be so dramatic. You’re not even in the market for a Golf….

  • avatar

    Sad – the Golf’s a very, very good car. But now that the Jetta’s riding on the same platform (and offers the same basic engine), there’s little justification for keeping it around. This is how the market works.

  • avatar

    Too bad. I find both the Golf and the Sportwagen to be appealing. These were replacement candidates for our Fiesta ST.

    Just thinking out loud…will this open the door for a Ford-badged Golf? There is hardly a downside for either manufacturer.

    • 0 avatar

      The downside is that you won’t be spending $5-6,000 more on an Ecosport.

      • 0 avatar

        I guess so…but the Golf and EcoSport are in different segments (premium hatch vs. cheap AWD hatch on stilts). After glancing at the Ecosport, I’m not surprised that there are steep discounts on them in my area. Most are in the high $15K- to low $18K-range depending on equipment.

        I’m thinking that Ford produces NA-oriented small cars in their own NA plants on the MQB architecture with Ford stampings. No need to devote precious development cash on a new small car platform. On paper it makes sense. We’ll see what happens with the inverse relationship with the Ranger and Transit.

      • 0 avatar
        Adam Tonge

        Ain’t no one buying the EcoSport. It’s the only subcompact CUV that is outsold by its subcompact car sibling. It is truly a third world garbage pile.

        • 0 avatar

          Oddly, I have seen more than a handful in these parts.

          • 0 avatar

            Actually, the Ecosport IS selling. Ford sold over 50,000 of them in 2018, and the model wasn’t introduced until spring of that year.

            Question is, who’s buying them?

            Answer: fleets. There’s a s**t ton of these on used lots now, and I bet they’re all ex-rentals.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I cross shopped them when I got my Fiesta ST (and the R). The GTI would be a worthy, if more spendy replacement for the Fiesta ST. The normal Golf may as well be my wife’s Santa Fe by comparison.

    • 0 avatar

      I feel like I already own one of those. It’s the Ford C-Max, which if you squint hard enough to ignore the awkward styling, drives like the Passat wagon that VW wouldn’t let me have. It’s giving me TDI levels of performance and economy, with far lower emissions. My last car was a GTI, and I miss nothing but the VW seats.

  • avatar

    The sophistication of the average member of the public is not high. Presently programmed into stolid brains? – buy hatchback on stilts. Do not buy hatchback if not on stilts. How the human brain works and justifies seeing vast difference in small variations has been the subject of marketing people’s existence for decades.

    The car makers aren’t much brighter than the customers. The newish Civic, Accord and Camry are all lower then the vehicles they replaced. If VW had a brain, they’d give the Golf standard ground clearance like the Alltrack, and that model would itself be the standard Sportwagen. They don’t need ground clearance like a Subaru, just reasonable as in the eighties, and normal humans do not need a B-pillar shoved in their sideways field-of-view, with short front doors making egress that is equivalent to hauling onself out of a milk pail. How hard is that? Too hard for VW and other marketing types. Fire ’em all!

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      Perhaps due to my sunny, optimistic disposition, I have given a pass to the automakers on the short door, huge B-Pillar-low roof thing. I know the designers are very deeply hobbled by crashworthiness, aero concerns, pedestrian safety requirements, etc. I don’t know how they can do anything but design a three box vehicle that looks like all the other 3 box vehicles.

      That said, my three box 2015 Mazda6 has a fairly unique appearance, great crash protection, super reliability, 32+ mpg without fail, and was just $25,000 with a manual trans!

      Yes, entry and egress from front seats is a bit awkward, but the cars is a damn good effort from a small company like Mazda. Too bad they sell so poorly.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t find the Mazda6 too bad to get out of at all myself, but I’m not tall at 5’9″. Neither is the new Mazda3 bad. Not like the Audi A3, where when I went to check one right after seeing the new Mazda3, I suckered the portly salesman into trying it, and he got stuck because the car was parked too close to an A4 in the showroom. Then he admitted my point, because I did better than him! But there’s no darn point at all in buying a car with such confining passenger space – on a daily basis it would drive me crazy. And BTW, the top Mazda3 interior has the measure of the A3 in no uncertain fashion. Subarus, which are anodyne these days, manage somehow to have this problem licked completely. The Impreza is easy to get out of, just as my old LGT is.

        I did get stuck in the back seat of the Genesis G70. There is no legroom. Somehow, getting out my left foot turned 90 degrees and got trapped between the driver’s seat and B-pillar. I couldn’t retract my leg because the back of my knee was jammed against the seat cushion, and i couldn’t raise my leg, no room, so there I was – stuck. Ridiculous car. I had to lie across the back seat to get my foot out and then exit on my back. Now there’s a useless design in a 3600 lb sedan, but the Internet Car Warrior Brigade comprising thousands who haven’t driven it, have awarded it their Highest Accolades from basements everywhere. I’d take a Mazda6 turbo over it any day – drove one twenty minutes after that tramlining, underpowered, weird shifting, tire noise special Genesis 2.0t. It’s a paper spec car.

        Enjoy your 6! I’m just waiting for the AWD a year from now.

    • 0 avatar

      The sophistication and validation of your argument is even weaker. Cars from the 80s/90s were much lower than they are now. Hondas in particular seemed to copy their seating positions from their F1 cars.

      Also, plenty of people are buying hatchbacks. Sub/compact cars in the US are only down ~5% YTD vs 8% for midsizers and 24% for large cars. And a large chunk of those (Civic, Corolla, 3, Elantra, Impreza, Fit, Versa, Accent, Yaris) are available in hatchback form.

      If you’re going to insult a wide range of the population at least have your facts straight.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Golf production is moving from Mexico back to Europe for the 8th generation, so it makes sense only to bring over the most profitable variants.

  • avatar

    “In 2018, Americans took home 6,642 Golfs,”

    To put that in perspective, Fiat, who the media tags as “soon to be withdrawn from the US” with every new FCA sales report, moved 5,370 500s and 5,223 500Xs last year, as their two best selling models.

    I have been expecting the garden variety Golf to not make it here when production moves back to Wolfsburg next year, due to the sales numbers.

    The dealer in Ann Arbor still had a 2018 Golf wagon on his lot, with the 1.8T, vs the 1.4T they get for 19, marked down below $20K a few months ago. Crossed my mind to grab it, but I’m perfectly happy with my 2014 Jetta wagon. It wouldn’t break my heart to end up with a Tiguan in five years tho, so I passed on the Golf wagon.

  • avatar

    Watch this turn out to be “they’re calling the low trim models Rabbit for 2020”.

  • avatar

    When I was looking to buy a Golf after Thanksgiving last year, it seemed no one within an 800 mile radius had a new Golf TSI S available. A lot of dealers were advertising generous discounts, but I’d call up and ask only to find that, oh, that car is subject to a stop sale (since the previous May!). There were some higher trim models available for sale, and plenty of GTIs, but those were outside my budget, and I didn’t want to wait on the 2019 TSI with the less powerful 1.4T. Ended up getting a CPO 2017 Golf TSI SE with only 6,000 mi. for a little less than I’d have spent on a new S. But this particular model is far outnumbered by GTIs, e-Golfs, and possibly even Rs in my area. It makes sense VW would focus on the more profitable iterations, for which there seems to be more demand anyway. It is too bad, though; the Golf is a kind of Goldilocks car that efficiently meets the needs of so many buyers in this class and throws in a nice interior and enjoyable driving experience to boot.

  • avatar

    This saddens me. The Golf is truly a premium small car. I recently purchased a new 2018 Golf Alltrack SE…My first new VW since my 90 Corrado. I really wanted the manual but none could be found. That being said I am pretty impressed with the DSG.
    The Golf is very high quality. Materials are top notch, ergonomics are great and the car is as tight as a drum. I love the aesthetics also. Taut, Teutonic design with none of the crazy curves protuberances, and gaudy details seen on so many Asian cars. It will look good ten years from now and everyone knows its a VW.
    I traded in my 13 BMW X3 and have never felt like I was stepping down. The performance is very good and I like being in a car again, not a truck. Plus the aftermarket is huge for Golfs. I already added a tune bumping the hp to 242hp. Too bad…great cars

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. My TDi, no matter what else, was a first class interior, and quiet like a bank vault, despite “diesel”. So much of what we buy is intentional segmentation. My Jetta S ace of base is a lot noisier, even though the turbo 1.4 and chassis tuning is very good…that’s a few layers of cheap insulation in the right places. The TDi got them, the mini-jetta didn’t rate it for $187 per month leased

      “Cheap cars are small cars” in ingrained in the American car DNA, even though it does not apply “ROW”.

      We end up with CUV because crap roads, low travel speeds due to congestion, and the CUV is the same price as the sedan but bigger….all other things being equal, you buy the bigger car. It has the same engine and in car electrics-same price to make for OE. The “truck” means it escapes CAFE as a car. Toss in residual “you’ll cross the nation on dirt roads-go to the mall for nail wraps” fantasy-reality and “SOLD !”

  • avatar

    As a 17 Golf owner, I lament this decision but I also see its necessity. I wanted a GTI, drove a GTI and loved GTI. wasn’t shopping basic GTI, I was looking at the SE trim with the HID lights, Fender sound, and other things. I even drove an Autobahn car, but at 34k that was much too dear on price. Even at 30k, all the awesomeness that is the GTI SE was a little much considering I drive my personal car maybe 7500 miles a year and it sits in an airport lot most of its idle time.

    But then I found my Night Blue with beige V-tex Golf in Wolfsburg trim with 5 speed. I was also considering a lease on an Alfa Giulia, but the lease terms changed overnight. I drove a Kia Forte5 SX after test driving the VW and it just wasn’t close with that car.

    The Golf is solid, drives well and can be enjoyably driven in a “spirited” manner. I can drive it to work in DC when I have to and not get beat up by it. The 1.8T is a solid motor and extremely tractable while returning decent MPG. The car rides well and is quiet, though the aftermarket wheels with 205/45/17 Michelin Pilots that replaced the stock 16″ 205/55/16
    Kumhos are much stiffer and louder. But it really wakes the handling of the car up.

    In short, it’s my 3/4 GTI for 2/3 the price. It was 20k out the door, 23k sticker. My previous car was a ’16 Cruze LT1 that I leased for a ridiculously low rate. But it also carried a 22k window sticker. It did not have a moonroof or heated seats at that price. It also did not drive or ride as well as the VW does. Wasn’t awful, just not the same league as the VW.

    The current car Golf is 1.4T powered 150hp vs 170 in 1.8. I’ve experienced that engine in the Jetta and it’s fine, but it’s not the 1.8.

    I see VW’s business decision. Folks like me weren’t willing to up the ante for a GTI. And the US hates hatchbacks unless they are lifted up and called “small crossovers”, so they weren’t moving Golfs. The trim range for Golf in 2017 was S, Wolfsburg, SE and SEL. My Wolfsburg has most stuff from the SE at least, if you are willing to shift yourself, there was no reason to pay 25k for an SE or 27 for an SEL IF you didn’t want a GTI.

  • avatar

    The Golf’s problem in the US is and has been for a while the price. It’s MUCH more expensive than the Jetta(and even more so at street price than MSRP), while being not that much less expensive than the GTI (and VW will discount a GTI more than a Golf). To a decent number of people who would like to have one, they either decide to settle for the much cheaper sedan, or they spend the extra for the GTI.

    • 0 avatar

      There are plenty of leftover 2018 and 1.4T S 2019 Golfs for six or seven grand off. Are Jettas less than $18K? I just don’t think there’s much point to VWs with all the downward pressure exerted on them from above by Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz cashing in their brand equity by leasing econoboxes.

  • avatar

    Not a Golf – they share the same architecture now – but I was impressed by the recent rental Jetta my wife and I used. Not pokey with the 1.4L, good handling, roomy interior (well compared to what we drive), and we actually got over 35mpg in a mix of city/mountain driving in North Carolina.

    If I was looking for a plain-Jane sedan and needed good gas mileage without going for a hybrid, the Jetta would be high on my list. – provided the warranty was good.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    I bought a new Sportwagen manual. The small turbo 1.8 runs very well while I’m averaging just short of 40 mpg.

    It seems to be an outstanding car for the money. It’s kind of sad it gets so little attention from purchasers.

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