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Volkswagen Golf refreshed for 50th birthday

The Volkswagen Golf has been given a facelift which includes cosmetic tweaks, an infotainment overhaul and revised engine options

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Coinciding with the family car’s 50th birthday, the Volkswagen Golf has been given a facelift to increase its consumer appeal, which includes cosmetic tweaks, an AI-assisted infotainment overhaul and revised engine options.

On sale now since 2020, this Mk8 Golf hatchback and estate range has gradually slipped down the UK sales charts in the last two years, and now that supply chain issues have eased somewhat, Volkswagen will be hoping that this minor facelift will reignite interest in the Golf before the launch of the all-electric Mk9 Golf in a few years time.

Volkswagen has kept exterior changes to a minimum, but the brand’s logo on the bonnet is now backlit for the first time, the updated model features a larger front grille and the angular LED headlights and tail lights have also been given a small redesign. GTI (pictured above), GTE and R-Line variants of the Golf will also be offered with a black roof option.

Inside, changes have been made to the steering wheel, as Volkswagen has decided to revert back to button controls, dropping the Golf’s widely-criticised touch-sensitive controls. The touch sliders for climate and volume control in the centre of the dash have also been illuminated.

Behind the steering wheel is a revised instrument display with new model-specific graphic skins, which can be selected using a new dial on the steering wheel.

The big ticket upgrade according to Volkswagen is the installation of the brand’s new ‘MIB4’ infotainment system, which has already been introduced to the brand’s Tiguan, Passat, ID.3 and ID.7 model ranges. This new tech is said to be slicker and more user-friendly, and comes with a voice assistant powered by ChatGPT AI.

This AI can be used to control the air conditioning, phone and navigation system and can read out researched answers to your questions while on the move. Volkswagen’s ‘Park Assist Plus’ and ‘Park Assist Pro’ packages will be added to the Golf options list for the first time too, which means that the car can be parked remotely using a smartphone.

The wide list of engine options has also seen some change as part of this facelift. The range still begins with two turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol units (115hp and 150hp) available with or without a mild-hybrid boost. The manufacturer says that the turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine has been reworked to boost the output by 13hp – now 201hp in total.

The Golf will still be available with diesel power, with two 2.0-litre units offering 115hp and 150hp respectively. The petrol-powered Golf GTI (which will no longer be available with a manual gearbox) sees the biggest performance boost, with an added 20hp for its (now 262hp) 2.0-litre engine.

Finally, the plug-in hybrid GTE models have been reworked. These plug-in hybrids can reportedly manage around 62 miles of all-electric driving, rising to 620 miles at cruising speeds with a full battery and fuel tank.

That sums up the Golf’s latest refresh. More details – such as confirmed UK pricing and trim specifications – will be announced closer to the facelift’s showroom arrival in April.

The Volkswagen Golf is currently one of the highest-ranked new cars in our Expert Rating Index, holding a New Car Expert Rating of A, with a score of 80%.

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Sean Rees
Sean Rees
Sean is the Deputy Editor at The Car Expert. A enthusiastic fan of motorsport and all things automotive, he is accredited by the Professional Publishers Association, and is now focused on helping those in car-buying need with independent and impartial advice.