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As legendary cars go, the Volkswagen Golf is one of the most iconic. While on the west side of the Atlantic, we only get the hopped-up GTI and Golf R models these days, the European hatchback still carries a strong legacy. To us, the next generation of Golf models going exclusively EV doesn’t seem like a big deal. Performance cars are getting more electrified by the day.

Considering the car’s legacy (and numerous variants) around the world, it is. Even the GTI becomes an EV in this next go-round. That puts the spectre of the EV revolution squarely in sight for all of us.

Generations of GTI will soon be joined by an EV
Generations of Golf GTI | Volkswagen

The people’s car goes all-electric, and that includes the GTI

The rise of brands like Tesla and Rivian shows that electric cars are here to stay. That legacy brands like Ford, Porsche, and Mercedes have jumped in with both feet, only furthers that concept. But when a formula as pure as the Golf ditches gas power for electrons? That’s a monumental shift.

That would be akin to Toyota deciding that the next Corolla will be electric only, in every variant, including the GR, in every single market across the world. This is taking an affordable, long-standing icon of efficiency, versatility, and plain-old fun and upending the formula for everyone that loves it.

Even as carmakers around the world electrify their lineups, there are moves that are more unexpected than others. Volkswagen taking its most iconic model and making it an EV is a move that could spark even bigger changes from other mass-market brands.

Still, even VW’s CEO, Thomas Schaefer, hedged a bit when discussing the change. He is quoted as saying, “we will have to see how the segment develops”. In other words, the current plan is an EV GTI and Golf platform. That is, provided nothing major changes in the next seven years. That may be asking a lot.

VW plans to be all EV by 2033

VW ID.2all electric hatchback
Volkswagen ID.2all hints at a future EV GTI | Volkswagen

On the heels of the ID.2all concept, these statements from VW brass don’t seem like that big a surprise. What is surprising is the shift away from a separate EV platform to an integrated lineup using the brands existing names.

Here, Schafer states to Automobilwoche, “But with the Golf in particular, it has to fit the genes. Just calling any vehicle that doesn’t work. We won’t make that mistake”. Considering the GTIs transformation from affordable hot hatch to $35,000 almost luxury car in recent years, we’re not sure we believe that.

Still, the concept of transitioning legendary names like GTI and Golf to the EV space is a smart brand move. Even if enthusiasts balk at the change, the majority of the market will at least give those cars a second look.

Right now, EVs are largely considered their own category of vehicle, easily ignored by buyers that aren’t interested. By slapping a popular name on a new electric car, the door opens, if slightly, for those buyers to give electrification a shot.

If Volkswagen intends to be all-electric by 2033, that’s a chance it has to take. Let’s just hope a GTI EV can manage to capture the spirit of its turbocharged ancestors – if it can’t we’ll likely say goodbye to yet another fun, functional car in America.

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