Published on December 16th, 2022 | by Subhash Nair


How Long Before The Passat Outsells The Golf Globally?

Will the Passat eventually outsell the Golf in the Volkswagen range? We have a hunch it might.

The Volkswagen Golf has long since overtaken the Beetle as the company’s best selling nameplate. Back in 2019 over 35 million units of the Golf had been sold since 1974 – a very respectable number indeed. Just a year earlier Volkswagen reported selling 29 million units of the much larger and noticeably more expensive Passat.

rear end of the Volkswagen Passat B8 facelift from 2019

Since then, the Passat has broken the 30 million unit barrier with 7 engine variants, 5 equipment lines, and 3 body styles. Is it only a matter of time before the Passat becomes Volkswagen’s best selling model of all time? We think so.

Hatchbacks are popular in Europe, but the volume of cars sold in the continent isn’t particularly large. It’s usually North America and China that make up the largest number of sales. In those markets, the Golf either faces loads of competition or is looked at as a niche buy. The Passat, on the other hand, can serve as a budget sports sedan or an alternative to a compact executive. It also works as a family car or can be dressed down to serve in fleet sales. What’s more, sedans like the Passat are still somewhat popular in many developing markets where electrification may come much slower. In these markets, Volkswagen can probably still peddle this model while the Golf’s sporty appeal gets eclipsed by full electric compact from China at around the same price.

The Golf, though versatile, also faces a lot of internal competition. You can buy an electrified Golf, but there are also loads of specialized battery electric ID cars from Volkswagen that overlap with the Golf in terms of price and size. In some markets, the Golf Estate is available for those who need the additional space – but Volkswagen also sells the Tiguan, T-Roc and many other crossovers that could easily provide that space.

Volkswagen T-Roc R

Furthermore, we’re seeing a couple of large changes in the Golf’s most popular market, its home turf of Europe. Customers are moving towards leasing or subscription models, which could mean fewer new vehicle registrations. What’s more, there’s a hard push towards electrification in many European countries and the 8th generation Golf still isn’t available as an electric vehicle. The e-Golf of the 7th generation model delivered fewer than 200km on a full charge and was discontinued in 2020.

The sales gap between the Passat and Golf isn’t particularly small, but I have a feeling it has been shrinking in the last 3 years. It would be interesting to see where the two models are right now. In Malaysia there is no doubt that the Passat’s the more popular vehicle. Even with the Golf now being available with a CKD programme, Malaysian customers have a preference for the larger sedan. Given enough time, this reality may be reflected on a global scale and the Golf will have to take a backseat as Wolfsburg’s best seller.


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Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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