Volkswagen’s technical chief has explained why small diesel hatchbacks are dying off.

Matthias Rabe, the VW brand’s board member responsible for technical development, suggested to Autocar increasingly stringent emissions standards in Europe made the development of such models financially unviable.

The 57-year-old said developing oil-burning engines for small models such as the Polo and Golf that met the upcoming Euro 7 emissions standards would be too expensive an exercise.

Rabe added diesel engines would continue to “make sense for SUVs with higher weight and more drag”.

Interestingly, the locally built Polo hatchback range offered in South Africa already does without TDI power (although there is an oil-burning option in the Polo Sedan line-up).

VW SA’s outgoing Golf 7 range, too, is exclusively petrol powered (the GTD was discontinued locally in July 2019), with the eighth-generation line-up set to follow suit.