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Believe it or not, we’re already three years into the new MK8 Golf GTI generation. That means a mid-cycle refresh is on the horizon, and with it comes some disappointing news. The world’s favorite hot hatch will no longer be a manual, as the new Volkswagen Golf GTI conforms to updated European emissions regulations.

European emissions regulations kill manual transmission Golf GTI for 2024

The news comes by way of Autocar, who spoke to VW’s head of technical development, Kai Grunitz. Grunitz all but confirmed the death of the manual GTI, saying:

“With the next generation of the Golf, there will not be one with a manual gearshift.”

The change comes as a result of stricter European emissions targets that make it more difficult for manual transmission vehicles to keep up.

We already know that modern manuals lack punch in order to maintain certain emissions targets. The new Euro 7 legislation tightens the belts even more, putting even those neutered manual setups at risk.

Currently, these stricter regulations are pending, but automakers anticipate their passage before the end of this year. As such, the product planners at Volkswagen are already working with the new rules in mind.

The MK8 GTI with a manual transmission
MK8 Golf GTI | Volkswagen Group

The automatic GTI meets the updated European regulations

In poring through manufacturer data, the automatic Golf GTI does slightly better in overall emissions than the manual. Currently, the manual GTI emits 162g CO2/km while the automatic is slightly better at 160g CO2/km, according to Volkswagen. That slight difference is enough that the manual is out beginning in 2025, just in time for the vaunted hot hatch’s 50th Anniversary.

Reading between the lines, it may not be just the emissions of the stick-shift GTI that put it in the crosshairs. Instead, it’s the goal of lowering VW’s fleetwide emissions average that gives the manual hot hatch the axe.

There may still be time to save the manual Golf

Ever-shrinking manual take rates and the popularity of Volkswagen’s dual-clutch automatic transmission make it easy for the German automaker to ditch the manual GTI and Golf R to help goose its emissions numbers. That said, the new European Union legislation is still in the works and awaits ratification before going into effect in 2025.

In addition, there may still be time for buyers to affect Volkswagen’s decision. If manuals suddenly start flying out the door, it’s possible that VW could reverse course given the scant difference in emissions between the auto and manual ‘boxes.

Given the historically low percentage of manual GTI sales though, it’s an easy decision for the brand.

Will the manual GTI still come to the U.S.?

A Volkswagen MK8 GTI hot hatch in red
Volkswagen Golf GTI | Volkswagen Group

It’s highly unlikely that the manual GTI would survive in the U.S. Typically, Europe gets more GTI and Golf R options than the American market, including models like the GTI Clubsport and the latest R333. As such, if the manual GTI is killed in Europe, chances are we won’t get one in the U.S. either.

The next GTI will be an EV anyway

Regardless of what happens with the MK8 GTI refresh, the MK9 version is all but confirmed to be an EV. At that point, it will be a surprise to see the manual make a return. That said, Toyota is working on a stick-shifted EV, so perhaps some hope remains.

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