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First Look

The facelifted Mk8.5 Volkswagen Golf is here! And it has a new infotainment screen

VW finally updates the annoying Mk8 Golf. Oh, and it has given the GTI variant a chunk more power

Published: 24 Jan 2024

Volkswagen really needed to do something about the Golf. Now, that’s not to say that the Mk8 – launched in 2019 – was a bad car. It was still very competent, but it was completely let down by a laggy infotainment system and infuriating touch-sensitive buttons and sliders.

We’re assured that with this latest facelift (timed to celebrate the Golf’s 50th birthday), all of those things have been fixed. Hurrah!

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So, let’s start on the inside. The Mk8.5 Golf gets a completely new infotainment system that VW is calling MIB4. It centres around a giant floating touchscreen that comes in two different sizes (either 10.4 or 12.9 inches) and is powered by a faster processor. Phew. We’re told the new menu structure makes it simpler to operate too, and the touch sliders that control the cabin temperature are finally illuminated so you can use them at night. 

There’s a new steering wheel in all Golfs too, and thankfully VW has returned to using proper buttons as opposed to the capacitive nonsense on the pre-facelift Mk8. It’s not all sunshine and roses though, because in this new MIB4 infotainment system you’ll find ChatGPT integrated into the IDA voice assistant. Click here for more on why that’s really not a very good idea. 

Anyway, to the outside. The switch from Mk8 to Mk8.5 essentially follows the classic facelift recipe, so you’ve got new light signatures front and rear, a “sharper front and rear end design” thanks to new bumpers and some new (and rather pointless) tech in the form of a light-up VW badge up front. Still, it all ties together rather nicely and we’re particularly fond of the way the GTI now looks. Teledial wheels are back too.

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And speaking of the GTI, its 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder has been reworked, up from 242bhp to 261bhp, and VW says it can be equipped with genuine carbon fibre bits for the very first time. It has also confirmed that the manual gearbox is dead though.

Other Golf powertrains include the new eHybrid and GTE PHEVs that now get 62 miles of all-electric range and DC fast charging. Plus, there are 48V mild-hybrid options, or the standard TSI and TDI turbocharged petrol and diesel engines. Thankfully there’s still a handsome Golf Estate available too, and VW assures us the GTI Clubsport, the Golf R and the Golf R Estate will also receive the facelift treatment later in 2024. 

“The Golf has been at the heart of the Volkswagen brand for half a century now, offering affordable mobility for all at the highest technical level,” said VW boss Thomas Schäfer. 

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“This is precisely what we are now building on with the new evolutionary stage – with even higher efficiency, comfort and quality and a new operating concept. The Golf does not get any better than this.”

Guess we’ll just have to take his word for it for now, but we’ll try out that new infotainment system ASAP and report back…

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