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Auf wiedersehen to the VW Golf: Mark 8 will be the car maker’s final version with an internal combustion engine as the company shifts to electric vehicles

Volkswagen is set to bid auf wiedersehen to its legendary Golf as plans have been laid for the Mk8 model currently in production to be the last with an internal combustion engine.

VW first launched the Golf in 1974. and the nameplate has legendary status. It is the most-built VW of all time, it’s GTI hot hatches through all generation have a cult following and it’s been the best-selling car in Europe for the last 14 years and remains one of the most popular family hatchbacks in Britain’s showrooms.

However, VW’s switch to electric cars means today’s eighth-generation version will be its last with a petrol engine.

VW is due to launch 10 new electric models by 2026, including the ‘affordable’ ID.2 crossover, which is promised to cost less than €25,000 – that’s around £22,000 – when it hits the market in three years’ time.

The car maker plans to keep the Golf name for a future electric model, but the earliest this is likely to be released is 2028. 

Is this the end of the road for the iconic Golf? Volkswagen has hinted that the Mk8 version currently on sale will be its last with a combustion engine as it looks to focus on EV production Is this the end of the road for the iconic Golf? Volkswagen has hinted that the Mk8 version currently on sale will be its last with a combustion engine as it looks to focus on EV production

Is this the end of the road for the iconic Golf? Volkswagen has hinted that the Mk8 version currently on sale will be its last with a combustion engine as it looks to focus on EV production

The Golf 8 – which starts from £26,565 in the UK – is almost certain to be VW’s last to be powered by a combustion engine.

Bosses have confirmed that the next-generation T-Roc crossover due in 2026 will be its final new combustion engine model to launch before it fully commits to going electric.

This ultimately means a petrol Golf 9 will not follow the car that’s currently on sale. 

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Volkswagen will give the existing eighth-generation model a mid-lifecycle ‘facelift’ with minor tweaks and upgrades next year before it draws the curtain on the combustion Golf for good.

‘With that, the car is set until the end of the decade. Then we have to see how this segment develops,’ Thomas Schaefer, CEO of VW cars, told auto publication Automobilwoche on Sunday.

‘If the world develops completely differently than expected by 2026 or 2027, we could develop a totally new vehicle – but I don’t think it will. So far that is not expected.’ 

The VW Golf arrived on the market in 1974 and two years later the GTI hot hatch followed to earn it cult status The VW Golf arrived on the market in 1974 and two years later the GTI hot hatch followed to earn it cult status

The VW Golf arrived on the market in 1974 and two years later the GTI hot hatch followed to earn it cult status

The Golf badge has been used across eight generations of the family hatchback. It has been among the best-selling models in the UK and Europe for the last 49 years The Golf badge has been used across eight generations of the family hatchback. It has been among the best-selling models in the UK and Europe for the last 49 years

The Golf badge has been used across eight generations of the family hatchback. It has been among the best-selling models in the UK and Europe for the last 49 years

It even gets a Royal seal of approval! In 2005, Prince William was photographed behind the wheel of then-girlfriend Kate Middleton's VW Golf hatchback It even gets a Royal seal of approval! In 2005, Prince William was photographed behind the wheel of then-girlfriend Kate Middleton's VW Golf hatchback

It even gets a Royal seal of approval! In 2005, Prince William was photographed behind the wheel of then-girlfriend Kate Middleton’s VW Golf hatchback

He explained that VW is not abandoning its iconic names – like Golf and GTI – and hopes to use them in its next-generation electric vehicles.

But Mr Schaefer reiterated that VW will not mindless pass along the Golf nameplate and said must be given to a car that will ‘fit the genes’ of iconic vehicle.

VW did briefly sell all-electric e-Golf models in the UK between 2014 and 2020, but it was culled from the range when it launched its ID.3 EV. 

The CEO, referencing the scrapped plan, said VW won’t build the electric Golf until after the company’s new Scalable Systems Platform is built.

The Golf is the most-produced Volkswagen model of all time, having overtaken sales of the VW Beetle in 2002 The Golf is the most-produced Volkswagen model of all time, having overtaken sales of the VW Beetle in 2002

The Golf is the most-produced Volkswagen model of all time, having overtaken sales of the VW Beetle in 2002

VW did briefly sell all-electric e-Golf models (pictured) in the UK between 2014 and 2020, but it was culled from the range when it launched its ID.3 EV. The end of the combustion engine Golf is part of the German car giant's efforts to shift to electric vehicles VW did briefly sell all-electric e-Golf models (pictured) in the UK between 2014 and 2020, but it was culled from the range when it launched its ID.3 EV. The end of the combustion engine Golf is part of the German car giant's efforts to shift to electric vehicles

VW did briefly sell all-electric e-Golf models (pictured) in the UK between 2014 and 2020, but it was culled from the range when it launched its ID.3 EV. The end of the combustion engine Golf is part of the German car giant’s efforts to shift to electric vehicles

Volkswagen bosses said the Golf name would likely be used for a future EV model, but only one that 'fits the genes' of its most iconic vehicle Volkswagen bosses said the Golf name would likely be used for a future EV model, but only one that 'fits the genes' of its most iconic vehicle

Volkswagen bosses said the Golf name would likely be used for a future EV model, but only one that ‘fits the genes’ of its most iconic vehicle

The Mk8 Golf (pictured) starts from £26,565 in the UK. With VW’s plans to sell only electric cars in Europe from 2033, it looks set to be the last Golf to be powered by a combustion engine

Bosses suggested the 2024 facelift to the Mk8 Golf will see it through to the end of the decade. New petrol and diesel car sales are set to be banned in the UK from 2030 Bosses suggested the 2024 facelift to the Mk8 Golf will see it through to the end of the decade. New petrol and diesel car sales are set to be banned in the UK from 2030

Bosses suggested the 2024 facelift to the Mk8 Golf will see it through to the end of the decade. New petrol and diesel car sales are set to be banned in the UK from 2030

Volkswagen is doubling down on its transition to electric vehicles and plans to sell only EVs in Europe from 2033.

The company’s decision not to invest in upgrading the Golf is a marker of the shift in investment by the car maker from retooling combustion engines to bringing down the cost of electric vehicles.

READ MORE: Our review of the Mk8 Golf 

We spent a week with the entry VW Golf Mk8 in 2020 to discover if the budget option is worth considering… 

The Volkswagen brand, part of the Volkswagen Group, is targeting 80 per cent electric sales in Europe and 55 per cent in North America by 2030.  

The group as a whole is projects that half of global sales by the end of the decade with be EVs.

The German car giant is due to unveil new versions of the Passat, Tiguan and Touareg before the end of 2024, with these being among the final combustion engine models it launches in Europe.

Before the launch of the Mk8 car in 2019, it said it had sold more than 35million examples globally in 45 years. 

It estimates that, on average, a person somewhere in the world decides to buy a new Golf ‘approximately every 40 seconds’.

The comes just months after Ford confirmed it will stop making its best-selling Fiesta in June after 47 years of continuous production. The Fiesta will be replaced by a new electric model.

VOLKSWAGEN GOLFS THROUGH THE GENERATIONS 

Golf I: 1974 – 1983

VW sold almost 7m examples of the original Golf between 1974 and 1983 as it successfully succeeded the iconic Beetle VW sold almost 7m examples of the original Golf between 1974 and 1983 as it successfully succeeded the iconic Beetle

VW sold almost 7m examples of the original Golf between 1974 and 1983 as it successfully succeeded the iconic Beetle

VW debuted the first model of the Golf in March 1974 as a replacement for its beloved Beetle.

The car featured a completely new vehicle model that included a front-mounted, water-cooled engine and sharp, boxier lines.

One of its standout design features was its upright, solid C-pillar – a styling cue that’s been used on ever Golf model since.

When it rolled off the Wolfsburg production line in March ’74, the advertising slogan used was: ‘The new popular sport: Golf’. And customers lapped it up, with VW shifting 6.99million units in nine years. 

Golf II: 1983 – 1991

The Mk2 Golf proved hugely popular between 1983 and 1991 amassing some 6.3m global sales The Mk2 Golf proved hugely popular between 1983 and 1991 amassing some 6.3m global sales

The Mk2 Golf proved hugely popular between 1983 and 1991 amassing some 6.3m global sales

The Golf II was bigger and more aerodynamic than its predecessor but retained much of the same design language in order to keep the nameplate’s DNA.

Styling tweaks included a reshaped rear with the brake light cluster moved higher up. 

But the real changes were the technological innovations, which included anti-lock brakes, power steering and all-wheel drive.

A total of 6.3million second-generation units were sold by the time production ended in the summer of 1991.

Golf III: 1991 – 1997

When the Mk3 Golf arrived in 1991 it looked very different and featured a more aerodynamic shape. Almost 5m were sold globally by 1997 When the Mk3 Golf arrived in 1991 it looked very different and featured a more aerodynamic shape. Almost 5m were sold globally by 1997

When the Mk3 Golf arrived in 1991 it looked very different and featured a more aerodynamic shape. Almost 5m were sold globally by 1997

When the third-generation Golf emerged in 1991 it had a markedly different look.

It was the first with a ‘wedge’ shape designed to improve its aerodynamic efficiency, while engineers extended its footprint by making the track wider and lowering the car to give it more presence. 

‘As we moved from the first to the second Golf, we made the car bigger, installed more powerful engines and gave it better handling. In the third generation, design now plays a greater role. We found a look that is typical of the Golf, which radiates safety and quality,’ said Herbert Schäfer, VW’s chief designer at the time.

Volkswagen also ushered in a new era of safety with the Golf III and from 1992 sold it with front airbags – later followed in 1996 with the introduction of side airbags.

Almost 5million examples of the Mk3 were sold before it was replaced.

Golf IV: 1997 – 2003

A more prominent C-pillar was the standout feature of the Mk4 Golf. It also debuted a host of new tech to make it more appealing to family car buyers. It sold almost 5m examples A more prominent C-pillar was the standout feature of the Mk4 Golf. It also debuted a host of new tech to make it more appealing to family car buyers. It sold almost 5m examples

A more prominent C-pillar was the standout feature of the Mk4 Golf. It also debuted a host of new tech to make it more appealing to family car buyers. It sold almost 5m examples

The fourth iteration of the Golf emerged in 1997 and again there was a drastic redesign of the hatchback.

The roof was extended and the rear had a steeper, box-like shape. The traditional C-pillar was also extended to give it more prominence in the overall design.

Not only did it look different, VW wanted the Mk4 to feel more premium than ever before – and it certainly generated plenty of badge appeal, with 4.99million sol worldwide in total.

It also had a number of new safety innovations, including debuting Electronic Stability Control (ESC) from 1998.

The Mk4 also brought to market VW’s own-designed DSG double-clutch gearbox, which remains one of the best automatic transmissions today.

It was also the generation of Golf that saw it overtake the legendary Beetle in terms of total units. On 25 June 2002, the Golf number 21,517,415 rolled off the assembly line and made it the most-built Volkswagen of all time.

Golf V: 2003–2008

The Mk5 Golf retailed the car's DNA and sold a whopping 3.4million examples around the world The Mk5 Golf retailed the car's DNA and sold a whopping 3.4million examples around the world

The Mk5 Golf retailed the car’s DNA and sold a whopping 3.4million examples around the world

In 2003, the Golf hit a new milestone of becoming the best-selling car from Germany for almost three decades. 

It earns the nameplate the title ‘das Auto’ just as the fifth generation car emerges in showrooms.

It continues the Golf DNA, combining the characteristic C-pillar, powerful rear shape, a sporty front end and all-round muscular silhouette. 

In terms of technical innovations, it had plenty: a laser-welded body, rear side airbags, four-link rear suspension, new seven-speed DSG, bi-xenon headlamps, rain sensor and panoramic sunroof. 

The Mk5 was also the first Golf to diversify into the MPV segment with the higher-bodied Golf Plus in 2006 and in total Volkswagen sold a whopping 3.4million examples across all derivatives to customers around the world.

Golf VI: 2008 – 2012

The Mk6 Golf wasn't on sale long but still generated a staggering 2.85m sales in 4 years between 2008 and 2012 The Mk6 Golf wasn't on sale long but still generated a staggering 2.85m sales in 4 years between 2008 and 2012

The Mk6 Golf wasn’t on sale long but still generated a staggering 2.85m sales in 4 years between 2008 and 2012

A sleeker design was introduced for the Golf VI that arrived in 2008 as Volkswagen aimed to up the hatchback’s premium appeal and safety tech.

It aced Euro NCAP crash tests with a five-star rating, with this generation of Golf debuting the knee airbag to provide additional protection to drivers during collisions.

The Mk6 also introduced us to a number of high-tech assistance systems that were never before seen in a family hatch.

Automatic main beam control Light Assist was first used in the fifth-gen model as well as ParkAssist, Hill start assistant, electronic damper control suspension, fuel-saving start-stop system and LEDs used as part of a tail light cluster.

Its luxury, sharp looks and bags of equipment earned the Mk6 ‘World Car of the Year status and VW sold 2.85million units in just four years before the Mk7 arrived.

Golf VII: 2012 – 2019

The Mk7 Golf was the first to debut an electric - e-Golf - variant as well as a hybrid option. Almost 6m were sold worldwide The Mk7 Golf was the first to debut an electric - e-Golf - variant as well as a hybrid option. Almost 6m were sold worldwide

The Mk7 Golf was the first to debut an electric – e-Golf – variant as well as a hybrid option. Almost 6m were sold worldwide

While the Mk7 Golf looked to continue the same aesthetics as the Mk6, it was very different under the skin.

Launched in 2012, it was the first Volkswagen to use the brand’s revolutionary and lightweight modular transverse kit (MQB) platform, which saved around 100kg off its weight. This in turn improved fuel economy by up to 23 per cent on certain engine variants. 

This completely changed the look, feel and practicality of the Golf, shifting the front wheels further forwards to reduce the overhangs at each corner of the car and extend the bonnet for a more premium look. It also dramatically improved interior space.

Volkswagen’s then chief designer Klaus Bischoff said: ‘The vehicle cab moves visually to the rear, giving a so-called “cab-backward impression”. 

That’s what we call the proportions of luxury class vehicles where the bonnet is long, and the cab is very far back. That’s why the Golf VII has proportions that are otherwise only found in higher segments.’

The Mk7 also debuted a digital instrument cluster and brought even more assistance systems in the luxury class to the compact class. 

An electric e-Golf and hybrid GTE variant was added to the range and widened its appeal. It saw VW shift almost 6million units in total.

Golf VIII: 2019 – present

The Mk8 Golf looks set to be the last with a combustion engine as Volkswagen looks set to shift to electric vehicle production before the end of the decade The Mk8 Golf looks set to be the last with a combustion engine as Volkswagen looks set to shift to electric vehicle production before the end of the decade

The Mk8 Golf looks set to be the last with a combustion engine as Volkswagen looks set to shift to electric vehicle production before the end of the decade

The current Golf arrived in 2019 and Volkswagen has crammed it with a host of technology.

The popular family hatchback features a semi-autonomous mode that allows the car to drive itself at speeds up to 130mph (though not legally in the UK), a communication system that talks to other vehicles and a function to call ahead to reserve a table at your favourite restaurants.

It was the first model in its segment to feature a ‘completely digital cockpit’ with the driver’s display and instrument cluster bundled into a new 10.25-inch screen.

It is due to receive a mid-life facelift in 2024 and looks set to be the last combustion-engine Golf on sale before the brand goes electric. 

READ MORE: Ten things you need to know about the Mk8 VW Golf 

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