Volkswagen is celebrating 50 years of the Golf with an extensive update to its small hatch and wagon, bringing overhauled technology, crisper styling, and a longer-range plug-in hybrid.

    Production for the Australian market starts in the fourth quarter of 2024, with a launch expected for early 2025.

    More details on the local range, including powertrains, will be announced closer to launch.

    As revealed in leaked images, the updated Golf has subtle styling changes that bring a sharper look, with a restyled front bumper and LED headlights, and a light bar stretching from the latter to a new, illuminated version of the Volkswagen logo.

    Volkswagen’s IQ.Light matrix LED headlights are available as before, while down back there are new IQ.Light 3D LED tail lights.

    New colours include Crystal Ice Blue, Anemone Blue, Oyster Silver, and Grenadilla Black metallic finishes, while there are new wheel designs.

    Inside, there’s a new MIB4 infotainment system with either 10.4- or 12.9-inch touchscreens, featuring a new, simpler menu structure with configurable shortcuts and control bars top and bottom that always remain visible.

    Below the free-standing touchscreen are new touch sliders for temperature and volume control that are now illuminated.

    A head-up display is available, while all models have a customisable 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster.

    There’s an updated multifunction steering wheel with physical buttons, while the Golf debuts Volkswagen’s new IDA intelligent voice assistant.

    Featuring ChatGPT AI integration, IDA can be used to not only control functions like the climate control and navigation, but also to access online information. It allows occupants to interact with the car using natural language.

    Other systems have received an upgrade as well, including the Golf’s semi-automatic parking assist.

    Park Assist Plus can detect whether a parallel or bay parking spot is large enough, and controls the steering, acceleration and braking as it eases the car into said spot.

    The Golf also gets Park Assist Pro for the first time, which enables drivers to guide their Golf in and out of parking spaces using their smartphone. A surround-view camera is also available for the first time.

    A new plug-in hybrid powertrain boasts electric range of “about 100km” – up from 50-60km currently – plus DC fast-charging capability at up to 50kW. VW also touts total range of around 1000km for the new PHEVs.

    There continues to be a sprawling range of powertrains, including mild-hybrid (eTSI), plug-in hybrid (eHybrid and GTE), turbo-petrol (TSI) and turbo-diesel (TDI) options. Volkswagen has also confirmed the GTI is getting a boost in power, while the GTI Clubsport and R versions will be revealed in the coming months.

    This is set to be the last generation of Golf with internal-combustion power, with the next Mk9 generation to be electric-only.

    While overtaken by the T-Roc as Volkswagen’s best seller both here and in Europe, the Golf is still a significant vehicle for the brand. Volkswagen has sold more than 37 million Golfs to date across eight generations.

    MORE: Everything Volkswagen Golf

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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