New Entry-Level Volkswagen May Carry The Golf Name Forward

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For the past two years, Volkswagen has been trying to figure out how to bring electric cars to market that will appeal to those people who prefer a compact city car akin to the E-Up! and the Polo. Those cars cater to commuters rather than long-distance travelers. They also sell for significantly less money than their Golf and Passat cousins.

Initially, when Ralf Brandstätter was the head of the Volkswagen brand, the company said it was placing its small car bet on something called the ID.Life, a rather ungainly design penned by then design chief Jozef Kaban. Now Brandstätter is the head of operations for China and Kaban has been kicked upstairs to a position known as creative art director.

Thomas Schäfer is now the CEO of the Volkswagen brand and he has taken a personal interest in the ID.2. Mindt and his design team have recast the ID.Life concept with an entirely new exterior and interior design that has more of a traditional hatchback look and is set to be unveiled to the public next month. In a previous interview with Autocar, he said that urban cars all “look like telephone boxes,” which suggests the ID.2/Golf will not.

Volkswagen ID.2 In Development

Unnamed sources tell Autocar the new car is a compact 5-seater with a target base price of €22,500 (£20,135) in today’s money. They also claim the car will carry the well known Golf name forward. There is even the possibility that a GTI version may be in the offing sometime in the future.

Those sources also confirm that the Volkswagen ID 2/Golf will be the first Volkswagen based on the MEB Plus platform — an updated version of today’s widely used MEB electric car structure that will use lithium-iron-phosphate prismatic battery cells and be able to charge at speeds of up to 200 kW.

In an interview with Autocar last October, Schäfer said, “The Golf name has huge value. The recognition it receives at [customer] clinics — people absolutely understand what we are talking about. So to change the name to something completely different doesn’t make sense.”

The initial suggestions were that the Golf name may be reserved for a facelifted version of the Volkswagen ID.3. However, sources tell Autocar “the true value of the Volkswagen Golf lies in a car the size of the ID.2.”

The decision to design the new car as a hatchback came after Cupra revealed the Urban Rebel, a close cousin of the ID.2. Both cars will receive similar styling treatments and will be manufactured at SEAT’s Martorell factory near Barcelona as indirect replacements for the Volkswagen Up and SEAT Mii. A similarly conceived model from Skoda using the same architecture is also planned to arrive at a later date.

Those privy to the early proposals of the redesigned ID.2 say it sits halfway between the existing internal combustion engine versions of the Volkswagen Polo and Golf in terms of exterior dimensions. It is “around 4250 mm long” with a relatively short bonnet and flat floor that will allow it to offer “the sort of interior space of models typically one segment higher.” It will have the same interior space as the current Golf, which is built on the ubiquitous MQB chassis.

Volkswagen insiders are also telling Autocar there will be a strong visual correlation between the fourth-generation Golf and the new ID.2/Golf.

Initially, the ID.2 will be available as a single-motor, front-wheel-drive model only. However, sources confirm the MEB Plus platform will support dual-motor, four-wheel-drive configurations.

GTX Is Out, GTI Is In

Thomas Schäfer has approved a return to  the GTI badge, which is now set to replace the GTX model name first introduced on the Volkswagen ID.4 in 2020. That will pave the way for the first fully electric Volkswagen Golf GTI.

The GTI name harks back to the original Golf GTI introduced in 1976, which helped launch the “hot hatch” craze. Although a final decision on whether it will be applied to the production version of the ID.2 has not yet been made, sources say a concept of the new electric model featuring characteristic GTI styling cues could be revealed at the annual Wörthersee GTI fan event in Austria in May or the ID owners meet-up in Locarno, Switzerland, in September.

The Golf GTI of today is powered by a turbocharged 2.0 liter gasoline engine rated at 245 horsepower and gets to 100 km/h time in 6.2 seconds. The Cupra Urban Rebel — similar in size to the proposed ID.2/Golf — has a 223-horsepower front mounted electric motor and scoots to 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds. It is assumed a GTI version of the ID.2/Golf will be equipped with virtually the same powertrain as the Urban Rebel.

Changes Throughout Volkswagen Line Up

The sweeping changes made to the ID.2 are part of a “comprehensive reset” for the Volkswagen brand and its ID electric car strategy under Schäfer, Autocar reports. In addition to the redesign of the ID.2/Golf, he has also ordered a thorough reworking of the company’s Project Trinity, a new showcase model that began its development when Herbert Diess was the leader of the pack in Wolfsburg.

It is believed Schäfer had reservations about the Project Trinity liftback/saloon design and that Volkswagen designers are now working to establish it as a crossover-style model similar to the Tesla Model Y. Shäfer previously served as the head of Volkswagen’s South African operations before becoming chairman of Škoda. He then was appointed to head the Volkswagen brand in place of Branstätter. He is said to be interested in a more product-driven culture at Volkswagen than Diess, who was known for his focus on cost cutting and profitability.

“It’s a balance but, in the end, it is the product that we are judged upon,” a source revealed to Autocar. “With the changes taking place, we want to get back to a position of strength with new cars reflecting traditional Volkswagen qualities and with names that will be familiar to longtime customers and new car buyers alike.”

The Takeaway

Everyone is waiting for Tesla to introduce a less expensive model, but they may have a long wait. Traditionally, manufacturers have had a hard time turning a profit on smaller cars. Often, they are sold at or slightly below cost in order to increase market share and in the hope that customers for those cars will develop a sense of brand loyalty that will translate into future sales of profitable models.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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