VW Sold Four Times as Many GTIs as Regular Golfs in February

The GTI is looking more and more important within the Golf lineup. Volkswagen USA reports that it sold 1,189 Golf GTIs in February. That’s four times as many as VW sold regular Golfs in the same period.

With just 292 Golfs, 19 Golf Rs, and 452 SportWagens leaving dealerships last month, the GTI has been performing disproportionately well for VW in the US.

And February wasn’t a fluke. A look at the year-to-date numbers show similar proportions and in all of 2018 Volkswagen only sold about 6,600 Golfs and more than 16,500 GTIs.

The Golf SportWagen was the only Golf variant to come close to matching the GTI (14,000 sold in 2018), but sales are falling off a cliff this year. SportWagen numbers are down 65% in February and 67% for 2019 so far.

Granted, the GTI isn’t among VW’s biggest sellers. Volkswagen moved more than 7,000 Jettas last month and 8,000 Tiguans in the same period, but its sales remain significant within the Golf family.

But what does it mean that more than half of the Golf family’s sales are coming from performance variant?

First of all, auto-journalists have been proven right for once: the GTI is pretty much the platonic ideal of Golf.

Second of all, though, it says something interesting about the delicate balance automakers have to strike. It turns out that the market is willing to deal with worse fuel economy (27 mpg to 32 mpg combined) for an extra 80-odd horsepower.

More intriguingly for the enthusiast, if the pattern holds when the GLI comes out, it may point to a niche VW’s passenger cars can carve out for themselves.

It’s also, unfortunately, necessary to point out that sales of 2,000-a-month aren’t great news for the Golf lineup. Remember that the Beetle’s sales were only slipping below 1,200-a-month last year and it has been edited out of the lineup.

But the Golf is still popular in Europe, which the Beetle wasn’t really. And the popular-in-Europe Touareg’s sales had to fall considerably lower than that for VW North America to stop sending it to dealers.

Even if we assume that the Golf lineup is safe, as VW has indicated, what effect this will have on the Golf TSI is worth thinking about. How long will VW USA bother stocking humdrum Golfs if they don’t move? Could the Mk8 Golf become the variant-only Golf, as it were?

Until we find out, you can at least rest easy knowing that Volkswagen’s commitment to the GTI isn’t just lip service. There are straight up mathematical reasons to focus on it.