It was inevitable, but now we know that VW won't offer combustion-powered hot hatches from 2030.
The Mk8 Volkswagen Golf R is a very popular choice for hot hatch enthusiasts, despite its shortcomings which include a lack of backlighting for the climate control interface and the choice to include highly annoying touch capacitive controls on the steering wheel. Fortunately, VW is working to correct at least the latter of those two issues by reviving real buttons, but the automaker is about to provoke the ire of its fans for another reason: high-performance R models are going all-electric by 2030.
Volkswagen has said that it is "gradually converting its portfolio, with several electric R models in the planning stages," adding, "We're currently assessing various concepts and possibilities but will only offer R models that meet our requirements. One thing is certain: the future of R is electric."
Volkswagen has already confirmed that it will introduce sporty versions of its existing electric models, including the ID.Buzz electric van, and this news means that other EV-only ID models will follow the same course of action. In 2021, VW showed the ID.4 GTX (essentially an electric GTI version of the ID.4) and then the ID.X concept, and these are now likely to be followed by even hotter R versions of the upcoming ID Aero and Project Trinity EVs. So we know that current and future EVs will get the R treatment, but what will happen to existing vehicles that have R variants but are not yet electric?
Well, it appears that the Golf R, Arteon R, and other R-badged high-performance models sold around the world will also go electric, but only if the underlying "regular" models are replaced by electric models. Basically, if the Golf, for example, is killed off and not replaced by an EV, then the Golf R will die too.
On a more encouraging note, Volkswagen has said that electric R cars will follow the same route to production that their combustion-powered predecessors have, meaning that they will get technology from prototype concepts like the lap record-decimating 670-horsepower ID.R racer. Electric R models will also be developed on the track, just as the ICE-powered versions currently are.
"In order to become a fully electric brand by the end of the decade, we're already taking the necessary steps today for the forthcoming transformation," said R boss Reinhold Ivenz. "The globally successful products from Volkswagen R are part of this exciting change process and will stand in future for sustainable electric mobility."
These upcoming R vehicles will thus be underpinned by the Volkswagen Group's forthcoming EV-only Scalable Systems Platform (SSP), which will become the only EV chassis the group uses from 2026. Naturally, there will be some tweaks to ensure the chassis can cope with higher performance. To minimize expense, this effectively means that we won't see an electric Golf R, for example, until the regular Golf is electric. Expect the first electrc R models to arrive sometime after the SSP reaches production in 2026.