The updated Volkswagen Golf R has been previewed for the first time, ahead of the German hot hatch’s unveiling in the coming months.

    Following the official reveal of the Volkswagen Golf ‘Mk8.5’ facelift last week, the 2025 Golf R was shown off at the Ice Race in Austria over the weekend.

    Despite camouflage hiding most of its body panels, the Golf R’s new front bumper design is clear to see, with a simplified radiator cover, outer air intakes, radar sensor and updated headlights among the key changes.

    While there are no images of the Golf R’s rear end, it’s expected the hatchback will adopt similar changes to its Golf GTI sibling by incorporating revised tail lights.

    Volkswagen is yet to announce details about the new Golf R, though it is all but certain to retain a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which currently produces 235kW of power and 400Nm of torque in the current Australian-delivered model.

    All Australian examples of the Volkswagen Golf R are equipped with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, after the six-speed manual was dropped in 2018.

    It’s not yet known whether Volkswagen will continue to produce a Golf R wagon for overseas markets, though the long-roof performance model is no longer available to order in Australia, after the carmaker axed it from the local range in July 2023.

    As with the rest of the facelifted Volkswagen Golf range, the updated Golf R will move back to physical buttons for its multifunction steering wheel, replacing the touch-sensing ‘haptic’ controls which were criticised in the Mk8 model.

    While the Golf will go electric from 2028 with the Mk9 model, Volkswagen CEO Thomas Schäfer has previously said the brand plans to carry on the Golf GTI and Golf R into the nameplate’s battery-powered future.

    “Going forward, we’ve taught the world what a GTI is, and we’ve told the world what the R is, so it would be ludicrous to re-educate people (on performance VWs),” Mr Schäfer told UK publication Autocar in September 2023. 

    “GTI with Golf was always legendary. We will carry on. We need substance to it, with performance. We’re working on a performance (electric) model to carry GTI forward.”

    MORE: Everything Volkswagen Golf
    MORE: 2024 Volkswagen Golf GTI review

    Jordan Mulach

    Born and raised in Canberra, Jordan has worked as a full-time automotive journalist since 2021, being one of the most-published automotive news writers in Australia before joining CarExpert in 2024.

    Buy and Lease
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers
    Also on CarExpert