Volkswagen of America had a strong Q1 2024 as deliveries jumped by 21 percent, and while SUVs predictably fueled the growth, the hot hatches also played an important role. Demand for the GTI jumped by an impressive 156 percent to 2,412 units from January through June. Golf R sales increased by 125 percent compared to Q1 2023, reaching 1,233 units.

What could have possibly been the driving force behind the sales surge? Maybe it's the impending demise of the manual gearbox. The Golf GTI and R Mk8.5 arriving later this year will do away with the three-pedal setup. When the GTI 380 was unveiled last August, VW announced the end of the run for the GTI and R with a stick shift. From the 2025MY, all Golfs sold in the US will receive the seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission.

2024 Volkswagen Golf GTI 380

The death of the manual is likely to have a significant impact on sales. We're making this projection based on the fact VW told us the GTI with a manual had a take rate of 50 percent in 2023. The R wasn't far behind, with 40 percent of buyers choosing to row their own gears. The US was privileged to have a Golf R with a six-speed manual 'box since VW sold the all-wheel-drive compact hatch exclusively with a DSG in Europe and other markets.

The 2025 Golf GTI is likely to get a power boost in the US if the European version is any indication. VW has dialed the 2.0 TSI to 261 hp, an increase of 20 hp over the pre-facelift model. The 2025 Golf R has yet to be fully revealed but the old one was offered with up to 328 hp in Europe instead of the 315 hp available in North America.

We only get the sporty Golfs in the US, but the global lineup has all sorts of versions with 1.5- and 2.0-liter gasoline engines and a 2.0-liter diesel. The smaller gas engine and oil-burner still work with a six-speed manual gearbox. This 1.5 mill is also offered as a mild-hybrid (eTSI). There's also a plug-in hybrid (eHybrid), joined by a performance 268-hp GTE, plus the more practical wagon with an R version to boot.

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