The Volkswagen Golf—one of the mainstays of the VW lineup—has been officially axed from the U.S. market. There had been previous speculation that Volkswagen Group of America might pull the plug on the once-popular compact Euro hatchback. Today the company made it official: the Volkswagen Golf is discontinued. The final production models were built in the Puebla, Mexico factory last week, and production has ceased.
Long-Legacy, Highly Esteemed
The Golf first showed up on U.S. shores under the Rabbit nameplate in 1974. It went through seven iterations to become the car it is today. Early on, the car had small 4-cylinder gasoline or diesel powerplants under 2.0-liters in size. The sporty GTI models were introduced providing an athletic driving experience. Later Golf engine choices range from 8-valve 2.0L 4-pots and the famous narrow-angle VR6 6-cylinder to modern yet powerful smaller displacement, turbocharged 4-cylinder engines making nearly 300 hp. You could even get the hot-rod R32 or Golf R with all-wheel drive. Of course, there were the modern TDI diesels which provided both power, economy, and a bit of emissions scandal.
Over more than 4-decades, the Golf won the hearts of driving enthusiasts with its impressive European driving dynamics and German-design. It also won over critics. The Golf appeared on the esteemed Car and Driver 10Best list for the last 15 years in a row. The current Mk 7 Golf was named North American Car of the Year for 2015.
The Last Golfs
The 2021 Golf is available in one well-equipped trim—the Golf TSI. It features a 1.4L turbocharged and direct-injection engine, which makes 147 hp and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. The TSI engine is mated to either a 6-speed manual gearbox or an 8-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic, and achieves EPA-estimated fuel economy of 29/39/33 (city/highway/combined) and 29/36/32 respectively.
Although the Volkswagen Golf is discontinued officially after 2021, pricing for the 2021 Volkswagen Golf with a standard 6-speed manual transmission starts at $23,195. The 8-speed automatic transmission starts at $23,995. The destination charge for all Golf models is an additional $995.
VW has stated that while production has already ended, it believes the cars that were already made should be able to sustain sales for the rest of the year. For what it’s worth, at the time of this writing, there was no announcement to discontinue the model in Canada.
U.S. Golf sales had slowed as of late. The current Mk 7 golf sold 68,978 units in 2015 (the year it debuted), but sales slowed each year since. For 2020, VW moved just 21,927 Golfs.
Volkswagen Golf is Discontinued, But GTI and Golf R Will Live On
Not all is lost, however. The Mk 8 GTI and Golf R will come to the U.S. as 2022 models. So while standard Golf models will not return with the revised body style, the hot hatch GTI and Golf R models will continue to grace American roads.
A Brief Timeline of Golf in The U.S.
There have been 7-generations of Golf for the U.S. and nearly 2.5 million units sold. Here’s a brief rundown of all 7-generations:
Golf I: MY 1975-1984
- First sold in December 1974 as “Rabbit” in the U.S.
- A 1.5L engine with 70 hp is featured
- The GTI introduced in 1983 with a 1.8L 90 hp engine
Golf II: MY 1985-1992
- The car is sold as “Golf” in the U.S.
- Its dimensions grow by nearly 7-inches in length, 3-inches in wheelbase, and 2-inches in width
- The standard engine is revised 1.8L with 85 hp, GTI introduces 2.0L engine with 131 hp
- A catalytic converter, anti-lock braking system, and power steering debut
Golf III: MY 1993-1999
- Design shifts to a wedge shape
- The base powertrain is 2.0L with 115 hp, GTI goes to available 2.8L VR6 with 172 hp
- Front and side airbags debut, advances in body construction result in improved crash safety
- Famous VR6 engine and cruise control offered for the first time
Golf IV: MY 1999.5-2005
- All-new design with flatter windshield and roofline carried further back with a steeper rear window
- Electronic stability control and side curtain airbags debut
- 1.8T engine introduced for GTI, bringing turbocharging to this generation of GTI
- R32 introduced for 2004 with 240 hp, 6-speed manual, and 4MOTION all-wheel drive
Golf V: MY 2006-2009
- New multi-link rear suspension; rain-sensing wipers introduced
- Sold as “Rabbit” again in the US
- DSG dual-clutch automatic transmissions debuts as an option for GTI and the standard transmission for R32; Bi-Xenon headlights introduced on both models
- The base engine is 150 hp 2.5L, GTI moves to 200 hp 2.0L turbocharged direct-injection engine
- R32 reintroduced for 2008 with 250 hp
Golf VI: MY 2010-2014
- “Golf” name returns for the U.S.
- A prominent character line runs from headlights to taillights
- The base powertrain is 2.5L with 170 hp
- Golf R introduced for 2012, with the VR6 engine replaced by a 2.0L turbocharged direct-injection engine pushing 256 hp
Golf VII: MY 2015-2021
- Based on Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) architecture
- Golf grows in size yet drops in weight, despite a plethora of new and upscale features
- Facelift in MY 2018 features included revised headlight and taillight designs, redesigned bumpers, and infotainment and driver assistance updates
- Base 1.8-liter TSI 170 hp engine replaces 2.5L to gain an EPA-estimated 6 mpg highway, later replaced by the 1.4L TSI engine in 2019
- GTI and Golf R powered by new versions of the 2.0L TSI engine, with up to 228 hp for GTI and up to 288 hp for Golf R (both achieved with premium fuel) Available driver-assistance technology includes Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, Forward Collision Warning, Park Distance Control