'Volkswagen is more concerned with the ID.3 than the new Golf'

Mike Rutherford is baffled why Volkswagen showcased the new ID.3 at Frankfurt rather than the new Mk8 Golf

OPINION Volkswagen ID.3

This month’s Frankfurt Motor Show intrigued and impressed me with its glorious glut of often unproven, comparatively expensive, alternatively fuelled cars for the future – when their petrol and diesel-powered counterparts are supposed to decline before being wiped off the face of the earth.   

But, as Frankfurt and elsewhere still prove, the death of tried and tested, more easily affordable internal combustion-engined family cars remains decades away. For the foreseeable future at least, such ‘old-school’ beasts remain far more desirable and considerably cheaper to purchase than pure-electric or hydrogen models of similar size.

• Best cars of the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show

That’s why I, not unreasonably, wanted Volkswagen of Germany to officially launch its all-new German Golf at Germany’s national motor show before it closed its doors last Sunday (22 September), possibly for the last time if you believe what you hear from some pundits.

Trouble is, it refused. Inexplicably, the hugely significant Mk8 Golf was ordered to stay away. Showgoers from Germany and other parts were robbed of one of the most important unveilings of the year for buyers living in the real world.

The all-new car was supposed to go on sale in late 2019. But it went AWOL in Frankfurt, which was the most blindingly obvious place to unleash it, with prices likely to be a tad over £20,000 (but sub-£20k with the discounts the Golf is usually blessed with). 

Yes, yes, I know that the nearer-£30,000, unknown-quantity, electric-only ID.3 was put forward as VW’s star car. But joint headliner or support act would have been more fitting. Golf has been a loyal servant for almost half a century; it is the second best-selling car ever; no VW has sold in greater numbers; even now it’s available as a petrol, diesel or electric car and is still Europe’s No 1 seller; in the small-but-picky British market, it’s No. 3

The bi-annual (up to now!) German Show was big enough for two all-new models from VW of Germany in 2019. It’s a great shame that one of ’em went missing in action. So this means the all-new Mk8 Golf will have its first public outing at the next big show – Los Angeles – in late November, right? Er, wrong.

“There are no plans for it to be at the LA Show,” a spokesman assured me. So we’ll have to wait until Spring 2020 – Geneva or the smaller, but growing, London Show, correct? VW won’t say. All it will admit is that the Mk8 Golf gets a “launch” in its Wolfsburg home in late October, and that the car “is set to arrive in the UK in Spring next year”.  

VW isn’t holding back from arguing that the flavour of the month ID.3 (zero sold so far) is – according to its crystal ball – the future, whereas the classy, trusted Golf (approximately 35 million sales so far) is much, much more about the past. The promise from the German firm is that “we’re not brushing Golf under the carpet.”

Me, I’m not so sure about that. But I am certain that with the questionable appearance, inevitably hefty price tag and comparatively low levels of consumer appeal that ID.3 currently has, it will not overtake Golf sales anytime soon – if ever.  

Do you agree with Mike? Let us know in the comments below...

Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

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