Rest in peace, Volkswagen Golf GTI manual.

    Brand representatives have confirmed the facelifted hot hatch – widely regarded as the OG of performance hatchbacks – will not offer a manual transmission option as part of the refreshed range, according to Automotive News Europe.

    Kai Gruenitz, Volkswagen’s technical development boss told the industry journal that an overwhelming 95 per cent of GTI buyers opt for the seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic in the Mk8 Golf GTI. Upcoming Euro 7 emissions regulations (which have since been softened), also contributed to the manual’s demise.

    It’s worth noting, however, a manual transmission will continue to be offered in base versions of the Golf as is currently the case in markets like Europe and the UK.

    Volkswagen axed the manual Golf GTI in Australia back in 2018, while the removal of the three-pedal option was already announced for the US market – where Hagerty reports it accounted for around 40 per cent of GTI sales – during 2023.

    Volkswagen has confirmed the ‘Generation 8.5’ Golf will be the last combustion-powered iteration of the German brand’s iconic hatchback, with the Mk9 (due later this decade) to go EV as VW electrifies its entire line-up.

    The facelifted Golf 8.5 was previewed at the 2024 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, shown in camouflaged GTI guise. VW released undisguised images of the facelifted hatch’s interior, which confirms a larger central infotainment touchscreen running the company’s next-generation MIB4 software interface.

    Beyond that, expect subtle design changes; the latest powertrain offerings including a new 1.5 TSI plug-in hybrid with an expected 100km of EV driving range; as well as the removal of touch-capacitive multifunction controls on the steering wheel.

    While still a key pillar of Volkswagen’s line-up and a solid seller in Europe – though it lost its top ranking in the past couple of years – the VW Golf is a smaller player in the Australian market. However, its reclassification into the premium small passenger VFACTS category has seen it technically take segment leadership.

    For the 2023 calendar year the Golf returned 3592 registrations, ahead of the related Audi A3 (3319) and all-electric MG 4 (3134) in the Small Passenger over $40,000 segment. That’s up 11.4 per cent on the year prior, and VW Australia confirmed that 1039 units of those 3592 deliveries were high-spec GTI and R models.

    According to Automotive News Europe’s report, the updated Golf will be revealed and detailed in full on 24 January. Stay tuned for our coverage.

    MORE: 2025 Volkswagen Golf facelift leaked
    MORE: 2025 Volkswagen Golf GTI teased with updated cabin
    MORE: Everything Volkswagen Golf

    James Wong

    James Wong is the Production Editor at CarExpert based in Melbourne, Australia. With experience on both media and manufacturer sides of the industry, James has a specialty for product knowledge which stems from a life-long obsession with cars. James is a Monash University journalism graduate, an avid tennis player, and the proud charity ambassador for Drive Against Depression – an organisation that supports mental wellness through the freedom of driving and the love of cars. He's also the proud father of Freddy, a 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI .

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