It’s the end of an era for the Volkswagen GTI. The Wolfsburg-based company has announced that the sporty two-door version of its popular hot hatch won’t live beyond the 2016 model year in the United States.
The decision to phase out the two-door hatchback also applies to the regular Golf. It’s hardly a surprise; in fact, the writing has been on the wall for quite some time. Two-door hatchback sales began free-falling in Europe a couple of years ago, and the body style was never tremendously popular on our side of the pond.
“The trend is clearly shifting toward four-door models,” Hendrik Muth, Volkswagen of America’s marketing chief, affirmed in an interview with Car & Driver.
In other words, the two-door model simply wasn’t popular enough to justify keeping it around until the end of the current Golf’s production cycle. Going four-door-only will also help Volkswagen reach its goal of saving money by becoming a more streamlined company. However, this is a decision that’s sure to displease brand purists because the original GTI was only offered as a two-door hatchback when it made its debut in 1976.
Volkswagen isn’t the only automaker that’s gradually phasing out two-door models. Notably, Ford stopped offering a two-door version of the Focus — one of the Golf’s most direct rivals — years ago. In Europe, Renault, Citroën, Peugeot, Mercedes-Benz, and General Motors’ Opel division have each independently reached the same conclusion. That said, a Volkswagen spokesman told Digital Trends that the two-door Golf and GTI will stick around in Europe.
The future looks grim at best for the once-popular two-door hatchback. The next generation of Volkswagen’s Ford Fiesta-fighting Polo won’t offer two doors, and Audi boss Rupert Stadler has cast doubts on whether the two-door variants of the A1 — an entry-level model designed largely for Europe — and the A3 will return after the current generation.