The final petrol-powered Volkswagen Golf R will be launched next year – and it has now been spied lapping the Nürburgring in both hatchback and estate forms.
The four-wheel-drive range-topper will join the standard Golf range and the GTI version in gaining a series of styling updates and an interior makeover as part of an extensive facelift for the ‘Mk8.5’ model generation, with the focus on correcting some of the issues that affected the Mk8 early in its lifespan.
The Mk8 Golf R arrived in 2021 with Volkswagen’s familiar EA288 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine boosted to produce 316bhp and 310lb ft. There’s no indication yet if the revised version will gain any further power, although the possibility is there, given that the Golf R 333 special edition launched earlier this year was boosted to 328bhp.
Our spy photographs do give a strong hint to the relatively subtle exterior styling revisions that the new Golf R will receive. As seen in spy shots of other Mk8.5 models, the R will gain slimmer headlights. It also gains a reworked lower bumper that appears slightly larger.
The hatch spied testing on the Nürburgring looked to be riding on 19in wheels and also featured the large rear wing and Akrapovič titanium exhaust currently used for Performance Pack models.
The interior of the Golf R is set to receive a bigger makeover, as part of Volkswagen’s extensive work to address the usability and reliability problems that the infotainment system in the Mk8 Golf has suffered since launch.
Photographs of a Mk8.5 Golf GTI test car show that it will get a new 12.9in touchscreen as standard, along with a 10.4in digital instrument display. It’s likely that a 15in infotainment screen will be offered as an option.
The revised infotainment system will be seen first on the new Passat and Tiguan and will also include revamped software that will offer simplified menu structures and the claim of quicker response times.
Volkswagen will also introduce light-up touch-sensitive sliders for the climate control and audio volume, addressing a major criticism of the Mk8 Golf.
The Mk8.5 Golf is due to arrive early next year, although it’s likely that the new R will come a few months after that.
It’s set to be the final petrol-powered Golf, with the following ninth generation set to go electric when it arrives around 2028.