By on October 25, 2019

Yesterday brought the big reveal every Volkswagen aficionado has waited breathlessly for: the Golf Mk. 8, VW’s latest iteration of a fun and sprightly hatch that’s put smiles on the faces of Euro-leaning Americans since the debut of The Rockford Files.

And…we might not see a regular Golf again, at least not in the United States. Falling sales of the seventh-gen Golf prompted VW brass to remain noncommittal about the introduction of a next-gen model lacking GTI or R badging.

Looking at the variety of mild and plug-in hybrids offered to Europeans come 2020, one reader recalled America’s not-too-distant TDI love and wondered aloud why greenies in the U.S. (presumably) can not get a crack at an electrified Golf. Do you think they should?

Volkswagen certainly has a fan base on this continent, and the brand’s long-legged TDI models, even after the scandal, diesel discontinuation, and emissions fixes to remaining units, are still in high demand. Fuel economy and good road manners still appeals to some buyers.

Just last month, I found myself in a rented Golf in Canada’s Cape Breton Highlands, navigating winding, cliffside roads amid early fall foliage. It was a lovely trip, and the car’s thrifty 1.4-liter turbo four tackled those inclines and curves with aplomb, returning fantastic fuel economy.

VW’s new breed of Golf offers a 48-volt mild hybrid powertrain capable of boosting MPGs by 10 percent, the automaker claims. Two plug-in hybrids are also up for grabs, promising an unspecified amount of gas-free miles and punchier power delivery.

And yet VW of America is on the fence, at least officially, about returning any of those non-performance Golfs to U.S. shores, preferring instead to focus (mainly) on gas-powered crossovers and the brand’s upcoming electric models. Gas or electric, no in-between. That’s essentially what VW of America brass told me the other week in Chattanooga.

No one expects any of the ID-badged EVs to be entry-level in price, and it’s worth noting we’re not getting the base ID hatch the Europeans get. It’s true that regular Golf sales fell off a cliff in recent years — a phenomenon not helped by the elimination of the TDI models. VW would rather import those which it can sell, and those happen to be the hot and hotter GTI and R.

That said, we haven’t had the opportunity to purchase an electrified Golf that’s well-suited to the day-to-day lives of roadgoing Americans (read: not the e-Golf), so who’s to say it wouldn’t be worthwhile bringing a hybridized Golf to these shores?

What say you, B&B? Worth it, or not?

[Image: Volkswagen]

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33 Comments on “QOTD: What Do You Say to This Reader?...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I think we’re talking about the wrong VW model here – the non-GTI models don’t sell, therefore the prospect of getting *any* non-GTI Golf here is iffy, hybrid or not.

    That leaves the CUVs, and no one besides Toyota has had any luck selling those. Besides, no one’s that up in arms about fuel economy these days.

    Would it be nice if VW offered hybrids here? Sure. Does the decision to not offer them here make sense? Again, sure.

    They can certainly offer them here if mpg becomes a priority for buyers.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I might be projecting here but I don’t think TDI fans would flock to a PHEV or BEV. There is a certain “Mr.Euro” appeal to the diesel VWs and and I don’t believe the electrified stuff has made it to that level yet.

    As far as Golf PHEVs in general go, although I personally like PHEVs they haven’t really had any success sales-wise over BEVs. With VW’s American volume being not great to begin with it probably isn’t worth bringing them over.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Does the reader forget we got the MkVI Jetta Hybrid for a few years, and not that many people bought it?

  • avatar
    Hummer

    TDI fans want TDI, the Prius has been on sale for 20 years, if the TDI buyers wanted electric they’ve had that option. VW is ridiculous for not offering a TDI version for those consumers.

    VW has spent the last 30 years telling consumers diesel is the best fueling solution on the planet, consumers aren’t just suddenly going to give up diesel and switch to electric.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    VW is a soap opera that’s run for decades.

    Boring.

  • avatar
    Joe K

    Personally I think its a boring car. It is just another 5 door trying to convince us it is all things to all people and in the end not really standing out

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Get a Kia, near Japanese quality with near German robustness. With the money he’d save, he could upgrade to a Hyundai. Hyundai is what VW should have become when their engines got wet.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    If you are buying a Golf and not buying a GTI, what’s the point?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The base Golf is still a damn fine car, and costs quite a bit less. With the 1.8 and a manual, it’s also a sleeper.

      My daughter drove a used ’18 SE last weekend – 3900 miles, certified, $19,000. Great car. She asked me what I’d do afterwards – I told her I’d be on my way back to the dealer to hammer out a final price.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I’ll bet a Jetta is cheaper.

        ;-)

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          The hatch is still a draw for a few, and at a minimum, the Golf feels a little more solid and has slightly nicer materials (at least current Jetta vs MkVII Golf).

        • 0 avatar
          spookiness

          They are, and you can tell.

          • 0 avatar

            Yes. VWoA has clearly defined the Golf as a step above the Jetta. We had a TDI (that one !) and the interior was very well appointed. Same car, sorta is the Jetta but done in hard plastics and missing a few mats of soundproofing materials. As long as we stay gas, the 1.4 in the Jetta has performance equal to the diesel and gets 32 mpg gas vs the 39 mpg I used to get from the TDI-overall the 1.4 is a better deal, and won’t spit up expensive diesel parts just out of warranty.

            Want to cry ? Look at the offerings of VW Europe. Colors, options, etc, but you’ll pay what WE pay for a low trim 3 series….

  • avatar
    6250Claimer

    VWoA has been a disaster for decades, starting back when they decided to built a plant here and “domesticate” the Rabbit. VW fans didn’t want a Rabbit that had a Buick-like suspension, velour interior, and ugly lights – we wanted the actual European Golf (or as close to it as our safety regs would allow). The marketing in this country has been horrendous for as long as I can remember. When was the last time you saw the GTI or R advertised on TV? When they have promoted the Jetta at times over the years, the ads have featured such purchase-inspiring stuff as a guy licking a door handle so that another prospective customer couldn’t get “his” car ahead of him. Who comes up with this stuff and how does it ever see the light of day? AWFUL marketing.

    TDI fans want TDI’s, not electrics – I agree with that earlier conclusion. I have a Mk7 Golf R and it will probably (finally) be my last VW. They’ve now adopted the “floating iPad” infotainment screen that so many consumers hate, and have eliminated most hard buttons & dials in favor of touch controls – which has already been tried by others, loathed by customers, and mostly reverted to conventional controls. These guys are clueless.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      6250…exactly one of the many reasons I love my 2014 JSW, diesel with 6-speed manual. The interior is one of simplicity. The screen is integrated into the dash and doesn’t look like a slapped-on afterthought, and I still have actual knobs and buttons for most of the controls. Call me a luddite (I’ve been called worse), but if this is VW’s direction, I’m all the more inclined to keep the little wagon for as long as I can. I was hoping they wouldn’t fall under the siren-song of the touchscreen/iPad scene…

      • 0 avatar
        spookiness

        I’ve been thinking hard about an outgoing Golf for those reasons. Integrated screen, buttons, no-nonsense, yes boring. In some ways it is like an old Volvo 240, purposely uncool and strictly functional. I drove one a few months ago (but with the 1.8 not the 1.4) and while it didn’t blow me away, within a few miles I felt like I’d driven it forever. Position, ergonomics, visibility, road feel, everything was “just right.” I only took seconds to figure out the audio, the HVAC, and find the light switches. I like that.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    As a green car entheusiast, I had a pretty terrible experience owning a 2001 Jetta TDI (with the glass 01M automatic).

    Granted that car was made almost 20 years ago, but going through multiple gearboxes per oil change is not easily forgotten. Especially in a car I *liked* so much!

    After that experience, and the not-exactlty-surprising VW diesels scandal, the ONLY VW I’ll consider is a fully electric VW.

    Electric cars are mechanically much simpler than the Rube Goldberg machine I found under the hood of my TDI. EVs are simple enough that even the same company that built my TDI won’t be able to screw that up!

    When VW rolls out EVs, I’ll give them another chance. But not before.

  • avatar
    karonetwentyc

    Unfortunately, Rob Rossen misses the point of diesel ownership. It’s not just about fuel economy, and I say this as a Mk. VI Jetta TDi owner. Being able to load the vehicle up to the roof and maintain speed on a gradient is a huge plus, as is the day-to-day driveability compared to a gas model. The platform also feels as though it was designed for the diesel; the extra weight in the nose just makes it seem more planted compared to the gas models.

    I had the use of a hybrid Mk. VI Jetta at one point when the TDi was in for service. Frankly, it wasn’t very good: the transition between electric, gas, and hybrid modes was best described as jarring. Loss of cargo capacity to batteries was a problem, and performance was underwhelming compared to the diesel. No idea if I just got a mediocre one or if they’re all like that (and we have a neighbour who certainly loves his), but I’d hope that VW has improved its hybrid tech in the 5 years or so since I drove that one.

    This was actually the subject of a recent conversation at the local VW dealer: we’ve been mulling over the idea of an Atlas to replace our (diesel) Jeep Liberty. I made a comment to the effect of, “it’s a pity we’ll never see a diesel in one of these,” to which the salesman replied that a hybrid was in the works. That’s fine, if fuel economy is all you care about – but towing with a hybrid sucks. I’ve tried it, and never want to do it again – much like towing with a gasser, which is only mildly-preferable.

    It’s not just about fuel economy. There are benefits with diesels that go beyond that.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Back when I owned a TDI, I also enjoyed the feeling of low-end torque and the ability to make my own fuel (if I had to).

      The MPG was important, because the car would have paid for itself in fuel savings, because I was dating a girl who lived 300 miles away — if the maintenance had stayed reasonable.

      I kept the girl and ditched the car. We’ve been married for 10 years, and have three kids.

      But, back to the car, the TDI had a lot of capabilities that made a really compelling package. Alas, that value proposition was destroyed by $#!tty engineering, both in terms of reliability and by the VW diesel emissions cheating scandal.

      The fact that they could get away without fixing the 01M automatic transmission failures, AND the likely scenario that the emissions engineers were put in a situation where they were more afraid of their bosses then the law ( https://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/a27197/bob-lutz-vw-diesel-fiasco/ ) suggests they VW has pretty deep problems as an organization. Hopefully VW is getting their $#!t together so they can build good cars going forward.

      I sure did like my TDI, despite it’s severe shortcomings. That’s why I’m still talking about it now.

  • avatar
    roloboto

    LOL @ buying a kia instwad of a VW.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I’d love it if they did. The GTEs in particular sound pretty tasty. GTI performance with PHEV capability and probably 30-40% better gas mileage? Sign me up.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    VW has developed a whole new dedicated platform architecture for BEVs. So there’s no longer any reason to stuff a battery into a platform intended for ICEs. We’ll definitely see more Audi BEVs, and probably more VW BEVs, over the next few years. All of those will be based on their BEV-specific platform.

    As for TDI, the sooner diesel disappears as a fuel for anything lighter than a Class 3 truck, the better.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    Thank God VW Canada has committed to bringing over the base models of the Mark VIII (except for the wagon, sniff).

  • avatar
    JMII

    VW is just skipping the middle step. Hybrids are a stop-gap before full on EV. VW went “clean” diesel when everyone else went hybrid. And we all know how well that lead balloon floated. Basically they now admitting they missed the hybrid window. So they went for broke and jumped into an electric future. Is it a good call? Time will tell… but the logic makes some sense. Now they can point to the EV as how they have changed their ways.

  • avatar
    volvo

    Since the US represents just 9% of VAG worldwide sales I don’t think they will bend over backward to offer their entire range in our market.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      And don’t forget our non tariff barriers, too.

      Protectionism drives up prices and reduced selection, which is what we’re seeing here.

      Some companies will pay the homologation cost, some will not. Toyota will, VW won’t. If VW could sell us the exact same cars they sell in Europe, we’d have the whole lineup.

      Protectionism (like the different safety and emissions regulations between the US & the rest of the world, like the chicken tax, like import tariffs) hurts consumers to protect companies. While there are reasons to do this, it’s a bad idea most of the time — and this situation shows why and how that happens.

      I sure wish the current administration understood this but, based on their public statements, nobody who works there seems to have ever read an economics textbook. If they want to challenge the conventional wisdom, that’s fine — they just have to explain why what I learned in my graduate-level macroeconomics class is wrong.

      If VW could sell us the exact same cars they sell in Europe, we’d have the whole lineup, and a lot of the cars would cost less than the GTIs.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    I have only ever bought the GTI yet something about not bringing the non-GTI and R models to the US bugs me.

  • avatar
    Irvingklaws

    Replaced my mk4 Golf GLS with a 2010 TDI because it was the only upscale Golf to be had short of a GTI. Plus there was a federal tax credit to sweeten the deal. Replaced with a 2017 GTI SE after VW bought it back, again because they had severely curtailed upscale Golf trims. The GTIs a great car, but the 18” rims and skinny sidewalls require constant vigilance for potholes on crappy NJ roads. I’d spend GTI money on an upscale Golf with 4-motion. But that ain’t happening in the states…ever. EVs aren’t in the running until range, performance, convenience, and price meet or exceed the equivalent combustion models.

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