End of the Road

Volkswagen Golf ending its run in the U.S., but you'll still be able to buy one

Volkswagen has sold seven generations of the Golf in the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen is saying goodbye to the Golf in the U.S. Kind of. The small hatchback is popular overseas but failed to find a continued, dedicated audience in North America where buyers are opting for larger SUVs and trucks over cars.

"Over four decades, the Golf has delivered a great value to American drivers," said Hein Schafer, Senior Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, Volkswagen of America, Inc. "It exemplified what Volkswagen does best—melding dynamic driving characteristics with purposeful packaging and unmatched quality. While the seventh-generation Golf will be the last of the base hatches sold here, the GTI and Golf R will carry its legacy forward."

Though its audience has faded recently, the Golf family has been popular with buyers in the U.S. for decades. Nearly 2.5 million of the cars have been sold since 1974.

The first-generation Golf was sold as the Rabbit in the U.S.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

1974 V

Production of U.S. bound 2021 model year VW Golfs ended last week at the plant in Puebla, Mexico. The run of models that has already been produced is expected to sustain the market through the end of the year. It will be available in just one grade: Golf TSI. That car is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine that makes 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Buyers can choose from either a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Every Golf TSI comes standard with LED daytime running lights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, heated washer nozzles, keyless entry, 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a sunroof, leatherette steering wheel, heated front seats, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, blind spot monitor, and rear traffic alert.

Pricing for the 2021 Volkswagen Golf with a standard six-speed manual transmission starts at $23,195. The eight-speed automatic transmission starts at $23,995. The destination charge for all Golf models is an additional $995.

How to get a Mk 8 Volkswagen Golf

But, if you really, really want a new, eighth-generation Golf, there's a way to get one. The Golf GTI and Golf R, both performance-focused versions of the Golf, will be arriving in the U.S. this autumn for sale as 2022 model year vehicles.

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What was your best car-related experience this year?

Chris Teague

This year has been a lot of things, but it hasn't been boring. Even if we focus only on the car world, there's plenty to talk about, from microchip-related new vehicle shortages to the wave of new electric vehicles hitting the market. That leaves us with a question for all of you: What was the best or most memorable car moment for you in 2021? I'll get the conversation started.

Porsche Cayenne GTS My SoCal Cayenne śaw snow for the first time in its nearly 200k-mile life last week.Chris Teague

I'd spent a good portion of 2021 wanting a new-old car to drive when I wasn't testing a new vehicle. That's harder than you'd think for someone who thinks, talks, and writes about cars all day, because there are so many interesting, risky, and downright funky options out there in every price range. The added headache for me was that I'd chosen to shop for a "fun" car in one of the most volatile car markets ever seen. Even the extremely high-mileage "untouchable" European cars I wanted to buy were commanding ridiculous prices.

After a solid few months of waffling between various rattletrap Mercedes-AMG, BMW M, and Audi S/RS cars, I landed on an option that had escaped me before: The Porsche Cayenne. First-generation Cayennes are a real bargain now, but the 955/957 (Porsche's internal code for the SUVs) can experience major problems that occur with or without regular maintenance and care. I was determined to buy one, and wasn't overly concerned about mileage, as long as I could count the number of owners on one hand. There was a beautiful 2009 Cayenne GTS with 90,000 miles but nine owners, a gorgeous 2004 Cayenne Turbo with a concerning engine tick, and many more just like them. Finally, I decided to risky-click a 196,000-mile Cayenne GTS in Southern California. It had one owner and one dealer-owner for a month or two prior to sale, its condition looked decent in photos, and I was able to negotiate a reasonable enough price that shipping it from San Diego to Maine wasn't a huge problem.

Porsche Cayenne GTS The pics look great, but hands-on tells another story.Chris Teague

I had two traveling Euro mechanics check the car out, and both confirmed that it was well-worn but mechanically sound, so I jumped. Ten days later, on a snowy, icy, dark Maine afternoon, the Cayenne arrived. Cosmetically, there were a few things the dealer and mechanics failed to mention, but overall, it looked good. The SUV passed Maine safety and emissions testing without problem, got a new set of Michelins, and I was on my way.

Porsche Cayenne GTS I'm in danger, but thankfully this should be a reasonable fix.Chris Teague

A few days of driving revealed what I was really in for. A check engine light revealed a camshaft position sensor error and the Cayenne displayed a nasty vibration at idle. A new sensor and motor mounts, and I'm on my way. I'll update you as more things break or miraculously work, but I want to hear your memories from 2021.

Email me at chris@automotivemap.com, and I will compile the best and most interesting stories for a story on New Year's Day. May you all have a wonderful 2022.

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The new Golf R hits all the right notes.

Volkswagen

Goldilocks might say the updated 2022 Volkswagen Golf R is “just right”. We agree and say it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing! While the looks of this all-wheel-drive are somewhat understated, the performance isn’t. The quasi-supercar wears the performance halo in VW’s Golf stable; it has come from Wolfsburg slotting within the eighth-generation GTI lineup and benefits from a new engine, new vehicle dynamics settings and new driving modes. Borrowing DNA from VW’s heralded Mk8 Golf GTI, the R is available in one well-appointed trim only but can be ordered with a six-speed manual or a seven-speed DSG transmission.

2022 Volkswagen Golf R All-wheel drive is standard.Volkswagen

Hot hatches are back in vogue, despite the popularity of trucks and SUVs. The new Golf R has been on hiatus since 2019; it will compete with the Honda Civic Type R and the Hyundai Veloster N, among others. It is priced at $43,645 for the manual and $44,445 for the automatic (plus $995 destination) and comes painted in Deep Black Pearl, Lapiz Blue Metallic or Pure White. It’s on sale now and can be ordered with an optional Performance Package.

Although the R shares its upgraded interior and technology with the new GTI, this slick runabout extracts more power from the 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine and boasts some exclusive items onboard. The R’s manual and automatic versions both get 315 horsepower while the manual cruises with 280 lb.-ft. of torque and the dual-clutch auto gets 295.

2022 Volkswagen Golf R VW made significant tech improvements to all vehicles for 2022. Volkswagen

Outside, a new grille and lighting elements accentuate the front end of the four-door hatchback that has been freshened with a more muscular look, race-inspired styling cues and side air intakes that assist as channels to add cool air. A blue strip highlights the upper grille, that is crafted atop an illuminated LED strip; these strips stretch outward from the VW logo into the fender via the Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) giving an attractive and appealing persona along with the LED light strip and standard LED headlights that help to provide good lighting. A R badge punctuates the right side.

The Golf R gets standard 19-inch black machined aluminum-alloy wheels, with blue brake calipers and the R logo on top. R-exclusive body-color sill extensions add flair while other exterior trim elements include matte aluminum-treated exterior mirror caps; mirror housings also provide LED projected R logos onto the ground when opening and closing the front doors. In back, R-specific design cues include the new bumper with a splitter, the high-gloss black diffuser, a quad-tipped exhaust system, and standard LED taillight clusters.

2022 Volkswagen Golf R The R's cabin is tech-filled and upscale.Volkswagen

Inside the premium cabin is blue detailing throughout and a unique new multifunction perforated leather sport steering wheel, with R-specific paddle-shifters for DSG-equipped models, with blue stitching and an “R” wheel clip. The front sport seats have integrated head restraints and blue R logos and the center panels are covered with perforated Titan Black Nappa leather. The dash and doors sport carbon-look elements.

The controls have been updated with touch buttons, sliders and screens. The standard 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit Pro offers exclusive features such as a new, horizontal engine speed display at the upper edge, as well as a lap timer. A head-up display digitally projects onto the windshield and the MIB3 Discover Pro infotainment system can display a full-screen map in the digital cluster and simultaneously on the 10-inch center display. Thirty-color ambient lighting comes standard on the Golf R. Other features include stainless-steel pedals and more carbon-look trim on the dashboard, charging ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Wi-fi hotspot. Of note is more cargo space than expected and a comfortable back seat.

We drove the new Golf R in the Ashville, North Carolina environs along a series of backcountry roads that serpentine through the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains. Notable was the on-tap torque available with both transmissions; our favorite was the long-throw six-speed that has a well-notched gear box, however we also loved the dual clutch tranny that takes care of the business of up- and down-shifts and even “blips” the throttle for seamless shifts. Our motoring was on dry, paved roads, so there was little-to-no opportunity to assess the intelligent AWD that can send 50 percent of the power to the back, with its rear, cross-axel torque-vectoring differential, but we can report that the R has a well-balanced adaptive chassis, responsive suspension and holds tight corners at high speeds with nary a wiggle.

2022 Volkswagen Golf R The Golf R will go on sale soon.Volkswagen

Selectable drive modes (Comfort, Sport, Race, Special, Drift, and Individual) can be activated by pressing an "R" button and hold appeal for many buyers in this class, who will also enjoy the standard sport exhaust, variable-ratio steering, bigger front disc brakes, and summer tires. Standard IQ.DRIVE driver assistance technology brings Adaptive Cruise Control with semiautonomous driving mode, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Assist, Travel Assist and Emergency Assist (on the DSG version only).

The EPA has estimated 23 mpg city/30 mpg fuel economy highway for the automatic and 20/28 with the manual.

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