New Volkswagen Golf R facelift: four-wheel-drive hot hatch looks cool in the snow

The hottest Golf has been spotted trying to cool off

Volkswagen may have just revealed the updated eighth-generation Golf, but attention has swiftly turned to the sportiest variant still due to get a mid-life refresh - the Golf R

Official teaser images from Volkswagen show the Golf R in pretty revealing camouflage at a public premiere at the Ice Race in Zell am See, Austria. The company says the car will be revealed in full this summer, which is when we expect to see the facelifted Golf GTI Clubsport launched, too. 

Reinhold Ivenz, Head of Volkswagen R, said: “Volkswagen R is VW’s premium performance brand and has stood for sportiness and dynamic performance for more than 20 years.” The first model from this sub-brand was the Mk4 Golf R32 in 2002, and back in 2022, Volkswagen launched the Golf R 20 Years to celebrate the most powerful version of its hatch. 

As for the latest edition, we can see the facelifted Golf R will look a little different on the outside. The front bumper has been restyled with new vents for a more aggressive look - similar to the changes we saw on the newly updated Golf GTI. The revised R will also use the Golf’s new headlight signature and feature an illuminated Volkswagen badge within the grille. This test car looks like it sits on the same wheels as the Golf R 20 Years, and as before, there are beefier brakes to cope with the power. 

That output could rise from the current car’s 316bhp. The Golf GTI gained a healthy 19bhp alongside its mid-life facelift, with its engine now rated at 261bhp. Given that the Golf R has already gained more power in the 20 Years model, up to 328bhp, we could see that become the standard figure for the R, with potentially an even more powerful variant arriving towards the end of the hot hatch’s lifespan. Power will again come from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, mated to a seven-speed DSG gearbox and four-wheel drive

Inside, the Golf R will certainly benefit from the regular Golf’s 2024 overhaul. The most obvious change will be a larger 12.9-inch screen, fitted with the latest Volkswagen infotainment system, replacing the old 10.25-inch unit. The touch sliders beneath the central screen for climate and volume control will become backlit to make them easier to use at night, and the steering wheel will now feature physical buttons.

This latest Golf R may prove to be the last edition powered by petrol, given that Volkswagen boss Thomas Schafer confirmed to Auto Express last year that the ‘Golf R’ name would live on in the electric era; an EV replacement is on the cards by 2028. 

Now read our list of the best hot hatchbacks to buy...

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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