New 2024 Volkswagen Golf facelift arrives with updated styling and improved tech

The Volkswagen Golf Mk8.5 gets a new look, plus updated engines and tech

The new Volkswagen Golf has arrived. The facelifted eighth-generation model (which has become known as the Golf Mk8.5) has a tough job ahead of it, with competition incoming not only from the immediate hatchback segment, but also family SUVs and electric cars too. 

The Golf is one of the automotive world’s best-known names. While the Golf has fallen out of the top 10 best-sellers in the UK in recent times, it remains a crucial car for Volkswagen. These updates will therefore be as important as ever – timed neatly to coincide with the model’s 50th anniversary. 

Volkswagen Golf facelift: design

After the clean-cut lines of its predecessor, the Mk8 gained bolder surfacing and a more aggressive front end design. Still unmistakably a Golf, but one looking to make more of a visual statement. Volkswagen has tweaked the exterior design of the 2024 car with new LED light signatures front and rear, plus a restyled front bumper design featuring a revised lower grille. The nose is finished off with an illuminated front badge. 

The bodywork changes extend to the rear with a new-look bumper. Five new alloy wheel designs and four new metallic paint finishes have also been added. 

The interior came under much more scrutiny when it launched, and representatives from Volkswagen told Auto Express that future models would revert back to using more physical controls – rather than touch-sensitive buttons. Thankfully, the Golf looks like it's heading in the right direction in this respect. 

Volkswagen Golf facelift: interior and technology

Indeed, the German firm looks to have gone back to the drawing board for the interior, stating “the hardware and software of the Golf’s infotainment systems are completely new”. The central touchscreen in the basic version will be a 10.4-inch unit, with higher-spec versions using an even larger 12.9-inch screen (replacing the 8.25-inch and 10-inch screens of the old car). 

Perhaps more notable, is the new temperature and volume controls beneath the central screen. Yes, they’re still operated by a touch-slider, but they are at least now backlit, so you can use them at night. The touch-sensitive steering wheel buttons have been replaced with physical switches, too. In front of the driver there’s Volkswagen’s customisable ‘Digital Cockpit Pro’ featuring a 10.2-inch screen, plus the option of a “widescreen” head-up display. 

Volkswagen has made a few changes to the infotainment system itself. The latest software is called ‘MIB4’ and has a new menu structure with the screen divided into two. This keeps the shortcut function visible, which VW says “considerably simplifies operation”. 

Further technological changes have come in the form of ‘Park Assist Pro2’. This allows the Golf to be driven into and out of parking spaces using your smartphone. ‘Area View2’ is also a new feature; a 360-degree camera set-up displaying imagery to the main touchscreen. 

Volkswagen Golf facelift: model line up

The Golf range will kick off with the eponymously named ‘Golf’. This entry-level model comes as standard with climate control, keyless go, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, the smaller of the two new infotainment screens, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and a ‘digital cockpit’. 

The entry-level Life model is bumped up one notch with the facelift. It gains a few exterior details such as chrome trim, exterior surround lighting and 16-inch alloy wheels. Inside there’s a wireless smartphone charging pad, ambient lighting, comfort seats, a leather steering wheel and adaptive cruise control. 

Style comes next, adding 17-inch alloy wheels, a new front bumper design with extra chrome, Volkswagen’s ‘performance LED headlights’ and an illuminated VW logo. The interior gets ‘sport comfort seats’ with 14-way electric adjustment, additional ambient lighting and a rear-view camera. 

The R-Line is the top of the range Golf model before you get into the GTI and GTE variants. It receives a sportier exterior look courtesy of black diamond-cut 17-inch alloy wheels, bespoke bumpers and black accents for the trim. The R-Line’s cabin gets paddle shifters for the gearbox (if fitted with the automatic DSG transmission), various driving modes and ‘premium sports seats’ with R-Line detailing. 

Volkswagen Golf Estate facelift

The load-lugging Golf Estate will get all the same visual, mechanical and interior changes as the hatchback. This version will be available with the same petrol and diesel powertrains, but as before, there will be no Golf GTI Estate, nor any kind of PHEV. The Golf R will continue to be offered in both hatchback and Estate guise. 

The Golf Estate will once again be pitched against the likes of the Vauxhall Astra Sport Tourer and the Peugeot 308 SW in the hatchback-based estate genre. We don’t expect any changes to the Golf Estate’s 611-litre boot with this facelift. As for the estate-only, lifted Alltrack version of the Golf, that model arrived a few years after the Mk8 launched so we still may see it join the range, although we’ve not seen it testing yet and Volkswagen calls it a “niche choice”. 

Volkswagen hasn’t announced pricing for the new Golf yet. The current model starts from £26,945 in Life trim so we’ll have to wait and see if the new entry-level ‘Golf’ model will undercut this.

Volkswagen Golf GTI and GTE facelift

As mentioned, the upper end of the Golf range is occupied by the GTE plug-in hybrid and the GTI hot hatch. They both get a more aggressive exterior design with a larger grille featuring honeycomb inserts and more prominent air intakes. The GTE has a blue stripe on the upper radiator (the GTI retains its red stripe here) and both models get a front splitter and rear spoiler. Unlike the GTI which gets twin-exit exhaust tips either side of a diffuser, the GTE has a chrome strip with the exhaust hidden behind the bumper. A set of 17-inch alloy wheels is standard on both cars. 

The inside of both cars features sport seats with check pattern inserts. Stitching for the upholstery is blue for the GTE, or red for the GTI. Both cars get the largest infotainment screen and a three-zone climate control system. Volkswagen says the GTI can be had with genuine carbon fibre interior trim for the first time ever. 

The Golf’s powertrain line up has been updated for 2024, as well. The biggest change arrives on the GTE, which gets Volkswagen’s second-generation plug-in hybrid system. It replaces the old car’s 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a 1.5-litre TSI unit, with the battery growing in size from 10.6kWh to 19.7kWh. The result is more power (now 286bhp – up from 201bhp) plus significantly more electric range (now 62 miles). VW claims the GTE can charge at up to 50kW, though this feature hasn’t been confirmed for UK cars.

The 114bhp and 148bhp 1.0-litre eTSI mild-hybrid units remain – available only with a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. If you want a manual then there’s the 1.5-litre four-cylinder non-hybrid engine, also with 148bhp. 

There are two diesel TDI offerings – again with 114bhp and 148bhp – but as yet there’s no word on if the diesel GTD hot hatch will make a return. 

The GTI will get even more power in 2024, however. Utilising the same 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol as before, the new modelI sees power rise from 242bhp to 261bhp.

The Golf’s range will expand in 2025 with the introduction of the 2.0-litre TSI with 201bhp (up 14bhp from the previous car). Before then we’ll see the “elite athletes”, as VW puts it, in the form of revised GTI Clubsport – a camouflaged version of which we saw at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas – and the Golf R. We expect the latter will retain its 4MOTION all-wheel drive system. 

What will the updated Volkswagen Golf have to beat? Click here for our list of the best hatchbacks on sale right now...

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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