2024 Volkswagen Golf revealed

Refreshed VW Golf Mk8.5 gets an upgraded infotainment system and a longer range for plug-in hybrid versions. Here’s everything you need to know...

Volkswagen Golf front left static

On sale Spring 2024 | Price from £28,000 (est)

It can be hard to know what to get someone for a milestone birthday. Jewellery? A thoughtful keepsake? Well, for the 50th birthday of the Volkswagen Golf, its maker has decided to give it, er, a facelift. The Golf, however, is unlikely to take offence – rather, a mid-life refresh might be just what it needs to help it stand out among its many family car rivals.

At the front, the headlights have a narrower, more angular shape, while the rear light design has been updated by way of a new light signature, to keep the rear end looking fresh. As before, LED lights come as standard, with the option to upgrade to matrix LED headlights on all models. These can blank out sections of their beams when another road user is detected, allowing you to keep full beam on without dazzling other drivers.

Volkswagen Golf rear left static

The design of the radiator grille varies depending on which version of the Golf you choose, but each has been tweaked, and made slightly larger than before.

The biggest changes inside the Golf concern the on-board tech. The confusing, slow and often buggy 10.0in infotainment system fitted to the outgoing car has been replaced with an all-new setup. The new system, featuring a 10.4in central screen and a 10.2in driver display, will come as standard on all models.

Volkswagen has also simplified the layout of the infotainment system by devoting sections at the top and bottom of the screen shortcut buttons and climate controls, which remain in place at all times for easier access. 

Volkswagen Golf interior dashboard

Speaking of climate controls, we found the unlit touch-sensitive sliders used to adjust the interior temperature in the outgoing Golf difficult to operate safely when on the move, especially in the dark. While these controls remain in place in the Golf Mk8.5, they are now at least backlit.

Elsewhere, the fiddly touch-sensitive steering wheel buttons which came with high-spec versions of the outgoing car are no more; all trims now get physical controls which should prove easier to use while driving.

Changes to the engine line-up appear to be fairly minimal – you’ll still be able to get the Golf with a range of petrol, diesel, mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid options – but some tweaks have still been made.

Gone is the entry-level 1.0-litre petrol engine – petrol options now consist of two 1.5-litre turbocharged engines; one producing 113bhp, the other 148bhp. These are only available with a six-speed manual gearbox. There’s also a pair of mild hybrids, which produce the same amount of power as the regular petrol variants, while the electric assistance helps reduce fuel consumption and emissions. These come as standard with a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox. A 201bhp petrol-engined Golf with all-wheel drive will go on sale next year.

Volkswagen Golf exterior detail

Meanwhile, the plug-in hybrid option, dubbed ‘eHybrid’, has been given a bigger battery. Volkswagen claims the increase in capacity, from 10.4kWh to 19.7kWh, means the updated model will have an electric-only range of around 62 miles, compared with the 42 miles that the current model can officially manage. The total power output for the eHybrid has remained unchanged, at 201bhp. If that’s not enough power for you, you’ll be pleased to know that the sporty Golf GTE is also getting a refresh; more on that below.

Although they’re less popular than they once were, diesel cars can still make sense for very high-mileage drivers. The updated Golf is available with two 2.0-litre diesel engines: a 113bhp option attached to a six-speed manual gearbox, and a 148bhp unit attached to a seven-speed DSG automatic.

Volkswagen Golf Mk8.5 prices are expected to start from around £28,000 when it goes on sale in the spring. That’s only a slight increase in cost compared with the outgoing model, but it pushes the price of the Golf further above that of the closely-related Seat Leon, and closer to the starting price of the excellent Toyota Corolla.

2024 Mk8.5 Volkswagen Golf GTI and GTE: full details

Volkswagen Golf GTI front left static

Many people see the Volkswagen Golf GTI as the original hot hatch. Indeed, it’s been around nearly as long as the Golf itself. However, the outgoing version can’t quite keep up with the best of its rivals in what has become a populous and highly competitive class.

The new Golf GTI Mk8.5 uses the same 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, but power has been increased, from 242bhp to 261bhp. This could prove a welcome boost, and brings the GTI’s output in line with that of the BMW 1 Series 128ti, but it’s still no match for the 276bhp on offer in a Ford Focus ST.

People looking for a sporty company car may be interested to know that an updated Golf GTE will also arrive in the spring. As with the regular Golf eHybrid, Volkswagen claims the updated GTE will be able to manage around 62 miles on electric power alone – a significant jump over the current model’s 38-mile range.

As with the regular Golf, the styling of these models has been updated, as have their infotainment systems. However, the central screen fitted as standard to the GTI and GTE is bigger than that fitted to lower-spec versions, at 12.9in.

Updated versions of the Volkswagen Golf R, Golf R Estate and Golf GTI Clubsport are on the way, too, but details are yet to be released; these versions are due to arrive later this year.

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