The US May Finally Get An Even Hotter Golf GTI

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Could the TCR make its way to the US?

In the United States, the Volkswagen Golf GTI is the hotter performance version of the company's Golf hatchback while the Golf R sits as the ultimate performance model with more power and all-wheel-drive. But the European market has been fortunate enough to receive additional versions of the Golf including the diesel GTD and hybrid GTE, as well as more track-focused variants of the GTI like the Clubsport and TCR.

VW is already testing the next-generation GTI TCR and in a recent industry roundtable event, the company talked about which versions of the eight-generation of the Golf we might expect to get in the US market. We already knew that the base Golf won't be arriving stateside, with VW's senior vice president for product marketing and strategy, Hein Schafer explaining that "a large portion of the hatchback segment has migrated to SUVs." We will still be getting the GTI and R models for sure but what about those other Golf variants?

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"For the time being, there is no GTE planned for the United States," Golf product manager Megan Closset said when asked about the hybrid Golf GTE. The diesel-powered GTD is not coming stateside, either. "I don't think it's ever safe to say something is 100 percent ruled out but at this time. Our focus is towards the Golf GTI and the Golf R and then figuring out where electric performance variants fit in."

The Golf GTE looks pretty cool with its 1.4-liter turbocharged engine and hybrid system producing 242 horsepower with a 30-mile electric range but it would likely be too expensive for the US market.

"If you look at the United States market, most volume brands are putting a focus on hybrid technology, not plug-in hybrid technology. Plug-in hybrid technology is a lot more expensive. From that perspective, we'll stick with focusing on GTI and R right now," Schafer added.

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As for the hotter GTI models like the TCR and Clubsport, VW's answer was more optimistic.

"I can tell you wholeheartedly that we are fighting to give every special model from a performance perspective," said Schafer. "Every manufacturer faces a very similar challenge when it comes to any different engine variants. We run into an entirely different homologation process. It takes time and costs a lot of money. We are working very closely with Wolfsburg on the Mk8 lifecycle and we have an interest in every single special model they can potentially offer. We will continue to try to push to bring those models to the US."

For reference, the upcoming Golf GTI TCR is expected to produce 296 horsepower, signifying a 55-hp increase over the standard GTI. Unlike the Golf R, it will remain front-wheel-drive for lightness and should be tuned less for comfort and more for track work.

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