shine on you crazy diamond
Say Goodbye to VW’s Last Station Wagons, America
The news station wagon lovers have been worried about for some time has arrived: Volkswagen is killing off the Golf SportWagen and Golf Alltrack in the U.S. market.
Production of the Alltrack will cease in December 2019, which means 2020 will be — assuming one classifies the 1600 Squareback as a wagon — the first year without a VW long roof in the U.S. since 1965. Drivers will lose another wagon, another manual transmission, and one of the best value cars on the road. It’s a shame.
The SportWagen was not just a critically-acclaimed car; many critics (this one included) own one as a daily driver. It successfully married VW Golf handling with SUV-level cargo space, had a reasonably potent engine, and was available with a stick shift (at a savings over the automatic, too). You could buy a new SportWagen for less than $25,000, or wait for the depreciation to kick in for an even better deal. The Subaru Outback offered a better all-around package, but the SportWagen was more fun to drive.
While a great car, the SportWagen’s death should not surprise anyone. It was never a crossover, no matter how much VW lifted and body-cladded the Alltrack version — and Americans buy crossovers. VW sold 11 times as many Tiguans as wagons during the first half of 2019.
The SportWagen was also a Dieselgate casualty. The turbodiesel inline-four had been the compelling SportWagen engine option, until it was axed in the scandal’s aftermath. The 1.8-liter gas engine was notably less fuel-efficient than many crossovers when paired with AWD.
Volkswagen is transitioning into becoming primarily an EV manufacturer. In the interim, internal combustion cars need to pay for that transition. As we’ve seen with Ford and others, that means tough decisions on models that aren’t super-profitable trucks and SUVs. The Mk7 Golf is a spectacular value; it’s won multiple “car of the year” awards. But, the sales for the base hatch and wagons — currently lower than the Beetles combined — don’t justify bringing over the Mk8. Instead, the Sportwagen will join the Karmann Ghia and a slew of other VWs waiting for a potential revival on VW’s flexible EV platform somewhere down the road.