A few Volkswagen model nameplates must be warily eyeing one another across the showroom floor. On one side, the growing battery-electric newness that starts with ID, like the ID.3, ID.4, ID.7, and ID.Buzz. On the other side, historic nameplates like Passat (since 1983), Golf (since 1974), Polo (since 1975), and much newer but highly favored names like Touareg (2002), Tiguan (2007), and Up (2011). As the lineup goes majority EV in the U.S. and perhaps entirely EV in other markets, the VW marketing department will need to grab a Bowie knife and decide which ICE-powered names get to make the conversion and which names head to the underworld.
TopGear heard from VW’s head of technical development, Kai Grunitz, the Golf name is safe. “It’s the heart of our brand,” he said. “We won’t kill the Golf.” The ID.3, on the other hand, might be asked to swing by the boss’ office at the end of the day. Grunitz wouldn’t say anything else definitive about what’s ahead, but suggested the impending collision with, “There is not enough space to have two or three different models fitting to the same customer.”
We have no idea what other names will survive, nor where surviving ICE names will land in the ID landscape. We have a feeling VW’s also figuring that out. Last year, Autocar reported the carmaker’s considering the Golf name for the ID.2, the small electric hatchback VW says is “as spacious as a Golf and as inexpensive as a Polo.” Based on size, we suspect it makes more sense for the ID.3 to swipe the Golf name, the ID.3 less than an inch longer and wider than the current Golf. But it should also be pointed out that the ID.3 isn’t turning into the Golf, VW is developing a discrete electric Golf now.
However, recent noises out of VW have implied the ID.2 will get the GTI name, thanks to the ID.2 concept being turned into the ID.GTI (pictured). As we covered before, the ID.GTI concept’s length of 160.4 inches and wheelbase of 100.7 are virtually identical to the VW Polo GTI sold in Europe and elsewhere, but 8.8 inches shorter than the Golf-based 2023 VW GTI sold here. And this doesn’t get into what the regular ID.2 would be called; if that car ends up being a Polo, the Polo GTI — as just GTI — could become the best analogue for today’s Golf-based GTI the same way the BMW M2 is the best analogue for the historic and segment-defining M3. That might leave the electric Golf R we believe is on the way as the Golf-connected heavy hitter.
This is all speculation, but there have got to be serious discussions about this already. The battery-electric Golf on its Scalable System Platform (SSP) isn’t scheduled to hit the market until 2028, so it has some time. The automaker plans a wider range of electric vehicles by 2026, and crowding is inevitable. German paper Handelsblatt said one of the new products would be a Tiguan-style compact SUV that might be called ID.Tiguan. We won’t be surprised if “ID” followed by a familiar name is the way going forward.