Volkswagen brought a camouflaged 2025 Golf GTI to CES in Las Vegas last month, but the actual reveal took place weeks later in Europe. While the US-spec model is still a no-show, a thinly disguised prototype attended the F.A.T. Ice Race Aspen in Carbondale, Colorado. We asked VW of America about what the future has in tow for the quintessential hot hatch.
Confirming our worst fears, the six-speed manual gearbox disappears after the 2024 model year. In an e-mail to Motor1, Volkswagen of America Product Communications Specialist Jerohn Anderson said: “I can inform you that the manual transmission will not be available after MY2024 for Golf GTI and Golf R.”
Some reports suggested VW might have a change of heart due to more relaxed Euro 7 regulations, but the Euro-spec Golf GTI debuted with a DSG only. Consequently, its American cousin is also losing the stick. The GTI 380 special edition marked the end of the road for the three-pedal Golf in the United States.
And there’s a reason why the Euro 7 standard would impact the American version. US sales of the Golf GTI with a manual accounted for only about five percent of total volume in 2023. Since the bulk of sales came from other markets, keeping the third pedal in North America just wasn’t worth the hassle. Although the Euro 7 legislation has been relaxed since the initial proposal, the change didn’t happen soon enough to keep the manual. The Golf Mk8.5 had already been mostly (if not entirely) developed.
While the Golf R wasn’t offered with a manual transmission in Europe, Americans could row their own gears. However, the all-wheel-drive flagship will also be sold strictly with the automatic from the 2025 model year on. It doesn’t mean the manual is completely dead in the Golf 8, though, since some markets are getting cheaper versions with 1.5 TSI gasoline and 2.0 TDI diesel engines combined with a clutch pedal.
Losing the manual is going to be a big disappointment for enthusiasts interested in buying a GTI or an R. At the beginning of the year, we asked VW how many people got the performance hatch with three pedals in 2023. The take rate for the GTI was 50 percent while the R was closely behind, at 40 percent, the same as for the Jetta GLI.
In related news, we also asked VoA whether the 2025 Golf GTI will receive the power bump of the revised model sold on the Old Continent. Jerohn Anderson refused to confirm whether the US-spec variant will gain those 20 extra ponies, which would bring the tally to 261 hp.
VW has yet to reveal the revised Golf R. It had a camouflaged car at the Ice Race in the Austrian city of Zell am See at the end of January. The world premiere will happen sometime this summer. VW has yet to mention whether Europe will get another Golf R wagon. Spy shots indicate the long-roof model will soldier on.
It’s also unclear if the range-topper will get more power. The 2023 Golf R333 and the 20 Years Edition from a year before both had 328 hp in Europe. If VW wants to unlock that extra muscle for the regular Golf R, it would bring a bump in output of 13 hp.
These will be the final GTI and R updates in the combustion engine era since VW will replace the eighth-generation Golf with an all-electric model. Hot versions carrying those famous suffixes will live in the electric era. VW has already trademarked a revised “GTI” logo with a thunderbolt replacing the last letter.