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Volkswagen Golf 2024 facelift: iconic hatchback gains much-needed tech updates

ChatGPT and an interior rethink set to make the Golf 8.5 better than ever

Volkswagen has confirmed that the facelifted version of the eighth-generation Golf will be revealed in full at the end of January. Before then, the German brand has let us poke around the new car in light camouflage for an early taste of the iconic family hatchback in its latest guise.

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In 2024, the Golf will celebrate its 50th birthday (there’s a small nod to this on the car’s camouflage). While launching a facelift of the Golf is a fitting way to celebrate, we expect Volkswagen will have other ideas up its sleeve to truly mark the Golf’s longstanding success, be that a one-off event or even a special edition.

As for the facelifted Golf, Volkswagen brought an example to CES in Las Vegas in minimal camouflage and not just the standard model either, but the hot GTI variant. Auto Express understands that the Mk8.5 GTI will get a healthy power boost for its 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine from 242bhp up to around 260bhp. 

A recent shift of VW policy means that a ninth generation, powered solely by electricity, is being lined up to continue the story in the second half of the decade. But VW needs to continue selling combustion-powered examples for several years yet, and to help with this, it has put additional focus on correcting some usability issues in the current Golf’s cabin.

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For the new car there are a number of small but significant tweaks to the interior. For starters, the touch-sensitive controls on the steering wheel have been replaced with older-fashioned (but much more usable) conventional buttons and switches.

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The large central infotainment system also gets backlighting on its controversial slider controls – a feature that will also be rolled out to the ID.3 electric hatchback later this year – although there’s no sign of conventional, physical dials for the heating and ventilation systems. There appears to be more ambient lighting – but this could ultimately be restricted to higher-end editions, such as the GTI featured. The new Golf will also feature the latest version of Volkswagen’s IDA (Intelligent Digital Assistance) incorporating ChatGPT integration as a result of the brand’s tie-up with tech company Cerence.

Asked about the biggest changes to the new Golf, Volkswagen’s technical development boss Kai Grünitz told Auto Express, “The electronic architecture will work more smoothly and be more comfortable. We will have illuminated sliders and a really fast interaction with the vehicle. That was one of our major concerns in the Golf Eight, that it was not that fast and seamless that our customers have been used to in the last years. That’s what we changed. The overall concept of the Golf is still great so we didn’t have to change that much in the vehicle. It’s more fine tuning.”

Externally, the camouflage wrap does a good job of hiding the details, but as with most mid-life facelifts, the Golf won’t get changes to its sheet metal. We do expect revisions to the headlights, though, along with a different, slightly narrower grille and revised bumpers.

There’s no word yet on the engine line-up, but VW has promised “new assist systems and powertrains”, so we’d expect efficiency gains in the regular versions, and while we know the GTI will gain a power boost, we expect similar results for the hotter R model.

The facelifted Golf is due to arrive in UK dealers this summer. Specs have yet to be revealed, although it seems likely that all versions will get a slight bump in kit, along with a small increase in list price that could well be swallowed up by finance offers.

Click here for our list of the best hatchbacks on sale right now...

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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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