New Mk8.5 Volkswagen Golf R – the final encore

The Golf will go electric-only in its next generation, making the Mk8.5 R the last of the petrol-powered breed

Volkswagen Golf R prototype

Ever since the Mk7 brought stunning performance and all-weather ability to the masses, the Golf R has been a key player in the hot hatch field. The current Mk8 version isn't quite as dazzling as its predecessor, but Volkswagen aims to correct that with an updated Mk8.5 Golf R this year. 

The combustion-engined Golf will be replaced by an all-electric Mk9 later in the decade, making this new model the final petrol-powered Golf R. While it hasn’t been officially unveiled, this teaser image – and what we know already about the Mk8.5 Golf – gives us a good idea of what to expect. 

Visually, the new Golf R will gain a light styling refresh rather than a major overhaul. New LED front and rear lights, an illuminated Volkswagen badge and a redesigned front bumper will be the key changes, along with new wheel designs and paint colours.

The basic cabin architecture will be familiar too – albeit with the Mk8.5’s ergonomic improvements and upgraded tech. The Golf’s haptic steering wheel controls have been replaced by physical buttons across the range, and all models get Volkswagen’s new MIB4 tech suite with new graphics and menu layouts. Like the GTI, the R is expected to come with a larger 12.9-inch touchscreen as standard and touch sliders (now illuminated) for volume and temperature controls. 

Volkswagen has a number of tools at its disposal to make the Mk8.5 R faster and sharper than before, too. The ubiquitous EA888 2-litre turbocharged engine will feature once again, but potentially in a higher state of tune – the Golf R 20 Years edition demonstrates that the engine has headroom, generating 328bhp as opposed to the base car’s 316bhp. As before, a seven-speed DSG will be the only transmission available. 

To harness that extra power, the new R could receive detail changes to its chassis, including the fitment of Volkswagen’s DCC Pro adaptive dampers. With dual-valve internals, the DCC Pro units enable separate adjustment of compression and rebound, allowing for more precise tuning on the fly. The Golf R's four-wheel drive system and torque vectoring rear differential could also gain calibration tweaks as part of the update. 

The Mk8.5 will make its official debut this summer, carrying a premium over the current model's £44,550 asking price.

Recommended

Renault Sport Mégane RS Trophy‑R – the car world's greatest misses
Renault Sport Mégane RS Trophy‑R
Features

Renault Sport Mégane RS Trophy‑R – the car world's greatest misses

Targeting a Nürburgring lap record proved the undoing of a potentially all-time-great hot hatch
29 Feb 2024
Toyota GR Yaris Gen 2 2024 review – first drive of the production ready hot hatch
Toyota GR Yaris – front
Reviews

Toyota GR Yaris Gen 2 2024 review – first drive of the production ready hot hatch

We've driven a prototype GR Yaris Gen 2 on track, now we've driven a production car on ice. Is it still looking good for the ultimate supermini?
27 Feb 2024
New Alpine A290: latest details on the Renault 5's hot hatch cousin
Alpine A290 concept
Features

New Alpine A290: latest details on the Renault 5's hot hatch cousin

Good news for fans of accessible performance, as Alpine reveals more details about its forthcoming EV hot hatch, the A290
26 Feb 2024
Hyundai i30 N (2018 - 2024) review
Hyundai i30 N 22 – front cornering
In-depth reviews

Hyundai i30 N (2018 - 2024) review

The i30 N sits at the top of a very talented field. With a truly engaging chassis and a punchy powertrain, it's a fantastic thing to drive
23 Feb 2024

Most Popular

Toyota GR Yaris Gen 2 2024 review – first drive of the production ready hot hatch
Toyota GR Yaris – front
Reviews

Toyota GR Yaris Gen 2 2024 review – first drive of the production ready hot hatch

We've driven a prototype GR Yaris Gen 2 on track, now we've driven a production car on ice. Is it still looking good for the ultimate supermini?
27 Feb 2024
New Alpine A290: latest details on the Renault 5's hot hatch cousin
Alpine A290 concept
Features

New Alpine A290: latest details on the Renault 5's hot hatch cousin

Good news for fans of accessible performance, as Alpine reveals more details about its forthcoming EV hot hatch, the A290
26 Feb 2024
Hyundai i30 N and i20 N axed
Hyundai i30 N and i20 N
News

Hyundai i30 N and i20 N axed

Production of petrol-powered Hyundai N hot hatches has come to an end in Europe, with electric N models picking up the baton
23 Feb 2024