As the Volkswagen Golf celebrates its 50th year in production, new emissions regulations are set to eliminate the option of a manual transmission in this iconic German hatchback. The 2024 Volkswagen Golf will be exclusively available with an automatic transmission worldwide, as the company prepares the hatchback to comply with stringent emissions standards.
A recent report from UK publication Autocar indicates that Volkswagen plans to remove the manual transmission from its eighth-generation Golf update in 2024, marking 50 years since the nameplate’s debut. While the decision has not been officially confirmed by Volkswagen, it is believed that the slight emissions advantage of automatic transmissions will lead to the discontinuation of the manual option in the Golf. This move aligns with the European Union’s efforts to enforce stringent Euro 7 emissions laws starting in 2025.
The Golf’s automatic transmission is equipped with up to eight gears, providing an advantage over the manual transmission’s six forward gears. With this configuration, the engine can operate at a more optimal power band, resulting in reduced tailpipe emissions.
Since late 2021, Australian buyers have not had the option to choose a manual gearbox for the Golf. The manual option was temporarily removed to prioritize production slots for more popular automatic variants, with the assurance that it would be reintroduced in the following year.
In mid-2022, Volkswagen’s Australian division officially confirmed that the manual transmission option for the Golf had been formally discontinued, as reported by Drive at that time. A spokesperson for the brand stated that the Golf’s sales were overwhelmingly dominated by automatic or dual-clutch auto (DSG) variants, leaving very little demand for manual transmissions. Additionally, since 2018, both the Golf GTI and Golf R hot hatches have been exclusively available with automatic transmissions.
In May 2018, a spokesperson for Volkswagen Australia said, ‘We make cars our customers want, and our customers are telling us this is what they want. Second-time buyers for these cars, for GTIs and Rs, who have had a manual are coming back to get an automatic because it’s quicker, it’s more efficient, and on the move we as humans just can’t change gears as quickly as that – whatever tactile enjoyment we might derive from it.
According to Autocar’s report, Australian buyers have shown a preference for automatic transmissions for quite some time. In the UK, it was in 2020 when more new cars were sold with automatics than manuals.
The choice to eliminate manual transmission from the Golf lineup may be the initial move towards transitioning to electrification. In April 2023, Volkswagen CEO Thomas Schäfer confirmed that there were no intentions to provide petrol or diesel engines in the next-generation Golf model, expected to debut as early as 2028. This indicates the brand’s focus on electric or hybrid options for future Golf models.
Mr. Schäfer stated:
“At the time, it’s clear that we will not be giving up iconic names like Golf, Tiguan, and GTI, but will be transferring them to the electric world.”
However, in November 2022, Mr. Schäfer cautioned that the Volkswagen Polo might face elimination from its lineup due to the expenses associated with complying with the upcoming Euro 7 emissions regulations.