New Volkswagen Golf 2024 facelift: design, interior, specs and 62-mile EV range

The iconic family hatchback has received an interior rethink as part of its mid-life facelift, with the new Mk8.5 model expected to arrive in showrooms later this year

2024 is the 50th birthday of the iconic Volkswagen Golf hatchback, and VW has decided to mark the occasion by launching the long-awaited, facelifted version of the eighth-generation Golf. The changes were so significant that this new model has been dubbed the Volkswagen Golf Mk8.5.

It’s not often that a mid-life facelift of a car is so eagerly anticipated, especially considering that the Golf has been overtaken in terms of global popularity by the VW Tiguan mid-size SUV – the new third-generation of which is also launching in 2024. However, the Golf’s iconic status and hopes that the brand will address key areas of customer criticism with the updated model (mainly the interior design), make this a big deal.

Volkswagen’s bid to restore the Golf’s honour should also make it more competitive against newer rivals such as the latest Vauxhall Astra, Peugeot 308, Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. There are plenty of electric hatchbacks the Golf now has to compete with too, including the Renault Megane E-Tech, Cupra Born and Volkswagen’s own ID.3.

What does the facelifted Volkswagen Golf look like?

The latest Volkswagen Golf’s design has received some tweaks, as is customary with a mid-life facelift, but the Mk8.5 doesn't look radically different from the current model that was launched in 2019.  

The facelifted Golf does feature new LED light signatures at the front and rear, a slightly more aggressive front bumper design and the VW badge on the car’s nose is now illuminated. Meanwhile, the biggest change to the rear is a refreshed bumper and those tweaked LED tail-lights. Five new alloy wheel designs and four new metallic paint finishes have also been introduced for the Mk8.5.

As before, the plug-in hybrid Golf GTE can be distinguished by a blue stripe on the upper radiator, while the Golf GTI hot hatch retains its classic red stripe in the same place. Both models also get a more aggressive front bumper design and pronounced roof spoiler.

What has changed about the Volkswagen Golf’s interior?

Rather than the styling tweaks, Volkswagen’s hoping the changes that customers will appreciate most will reside inside the cabin. The VW Golf Mk8 introduced a streamlined new interior design philosophy for Volkswagen, removing nearly all the physical controls from the cabin, and replacing them with touch-sensitive panels on the steering wheel and slider controls atop the dashboard for the cabin temperature and stereo volume.

The decision was controversial to begin with, and then glitchy software, slow response times and complicated menu structures made the car’s functions significantly more difficult to navigate while driving. This was especially the case when compared to the Golf Mk7/7.5 with its more user-friendly interior and physical controls.

Thankfully Volkswagen has seen the light and has fitted the steering wheel in the facelifted Golf with good old fashioned, and much more usable, buttons and switches. The climate and volume controls are still touch-sensitive sliders, but are finally back-lit to make them easier to see and operate at night.

Volkswagen has also fitted the facelifted Golf with a new free-standing central touchscreen, similar to the setup in the new Passat and Tiguan. In the Golf Mk8.5, a sizable 10.4-inch display comes as standard, but an even larger 12.9-inch unit will be available as an optional extra. Behind the steering wheel is a customisable 10.2-inch ‘Digital Cockpit Pro’ display.

Other technological advancements include Volkswagen’s latest ‘MIB4’ infotainment software, ‘windscreen’ head-up display and a new ‘Park Assist Pro2’ system that allows the Mk8.5 to be driven in and out of parking spaces using your smartphone.

Another addition for the Mk8.5 is a ChatGPT Artificial Intelligence chatbot as part of Volkswagen’s next-generation infotainment system. ChatGPT has been integrated into Volkswagen’s IDA voice assistant that’s activated by saying “Hello IDA”, or pressing a button on the steering wheel – a function we tried in the Golf Mk8.5 during CES 2024. The idea is if Volkswagen’s own system can’t answer a question or control a function in the car, it’ll be seamlessly forwarded to the AI for a response, but the familiar Volkswagen voice will relay the answer.

What engines will be offered in the facelifted Volkswagen Golf?

In the UK, the facelifted Volkswagen Golf will be available with a choice of petrol, diesel, mild-hybrid petrol and plug-in hybrid powertrains.

The most basic engine found in the Golf Mk8.5 is a turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder TSI petrol engine producing either 114bhp or 148bhp. The two 2.0-litre TDI non-hybrid diesel offerings produce the same power outputs, as do the two eTSI mild-hybrid units. These pair a 1.5-litre four-pot engine with an electric motor that provides assistance when driving at low speeds and getting going.

The updated Golf eHybrid and Golf GTE use Volkswagen’s second-generation plug-in hybrid technology, which incorporates a 19.7kWh battery (up from 10.6kWh) before. The result is a significantly longer pure-electric driving range of 62 miles, plus a boost in power to 286bhp for the Golf GTE. The less sporty Golf eHybrid produces the same 201bhp as before.

Of course, the iconic Golf GTI is still part of the range, and has received a welcome power boost for its 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine – up from 242bhp to 261bhp. Purists won’t be so happy to hear that the Golf GTI is no longer available with a manual gearbox, it’s now offered exclusively with a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

The even hotter VW Golf R should receive a similar bump in power when the updated version is unveiled later this year. The current model is rated at 316bhp, but the 20 Years special edition pumps out 328bhp, so we could see the Mk8.5 Golf R boast a similar figure. Power will again come from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, mated to a seven-speed DSG gearbox and four-wheel drive.

A 2.0-litre TSI with 201bhp and 4MOTION all-wheel drive is also due to join the Golf line-up in 2025.

How much does the facelifted Volkswagen Golf cost?

Pricing for the facelifted Volkswagen Golf is still under wraps for now, but we expect it to arrive in UK dealers this summer, with the regular Golf due to be offered in four trim levels: a nameless base specification, followed by Life, Style and R-Line trim. As always, GTE, GTI and R will serve as your specifications. 

Has the Volkswagen Golf Estate been facelifted too?

Yes, the Volkswagen Golf Estate has received the same visual changes and revised cabin as the hatchback, with the facelifted version to be offered with a choice of petrol and diesel powertrains, but no plug-in hybrid or GTI version. If you fancy a plug-in hybrid VW wagon, the new Passat is estate-only and comes in PHEV form, while a hot Golf R Estate will be available in time.

Luggage capacity figures for the Golf Estate are the same as before: 611 litres with the rear seats in place, growing to 1,642 litres when folded down.

Find out more about the new ChatGPT AI being added to the Volkswagen Golf

News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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