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New Volkswagen Golf 2024: facelifted hatchback icon on sale from 11 April

The eighth-generation Golf has been given a mid-life refresh - just in time for the model’s 50th birthday

The Volkswagen Golf has received a facelift for 2024 and it’ll go on sale 11 April with prices kicking off at £27,035. Pure-petrol and mild-hybrid powertrains will be offered at first, followed by the plug-in hybrids and the Golf GTI hot hatch. 

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Volkswagen Golf hatchback and this facelift has been an eagerly anticipated moment . The hope was that the brand will address key areas of customer criticism with this updated Golf - mainly by improving the interior design. The changes were so significant that this new model has been dubbed the Volkswagen Golf Mk8.5.

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.

How much does the facelifted Volkswagen Golf cost?

Initial pricing for the Volkswagen Golf has been revealed for the pure-petrol and mild-hybrid engines, coupled with the Life, Match and Style trims for the Golf Hatch and Life and Style trims for the Estate. The entry-level Golf in Life trim with the 114bhp 1.5 TSI manual costs £27,035 - £1,205 cheaper than the most basic Peugeot 308 and £65 more than the cheapest Vauxhall Astra. The Golf Estate starts at £28,400 in Life trim. 

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Sitting above the Style trim level will be the sporty R-Line version and this will join the range on 25 April. Golf R-Line cars will come with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a leather heated sports steering wheel, a 12.9-inch infotainment screen, a rear-view camera, adaptive cruise control and lane assist as standard. The R-Line is also only offered with the more powerful 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol unit (with or without mild-hybrid technology) and can have either a manual or DSG automatic transmission. Pricing for the R-Line will start at £30,285 for the hatchback and £31,650 for the Golf Estate. Volkswagen says the eHybrid, GTI and GTE versions will join the range this summer, we expect the hottest Golf R to arrive later in the year.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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