See If You Can Spot What's Different On The 2025 Volkswagen Golf R

In the Golf world, the ICE age is nearly over. The upcoming Mk8.5 will be the last hurrah for the ever-so-popular hatch with combustion engines, as Wolfsburg has said the ninth-gen model will be an EV. Before the last drop of gas goes into the fuel tank, Volkswagen is giving the compact car a final update. Our spies have already caught the regular versions and the GTI, so it’s only natural we’re now getting the opportunity to see the R.

Dust off the magnifying glass to see what’s different on this Golf R because the changes are discreet. The good news is that VW didn’t even bother to camouflage the skinnier headlights. These have a flatter look and appear to be slightly narrower near the grille, but you must be a Golf enthusiast to notice the change. There seems to be body-colored camo on the front bumper judging by the crinkled tape, although the changes are likely nothing to write home about.

2025 Volkswagen Golf R spy photos

At the back, it would appear the Golf R is devoid of camouflage. However, that’s not actually the case. Look closer and you’ll notice there’s some pesky tape applied to the taillights. Its design is meant to mimic the pre-facelift’s rear lights to conceal the updated appearance. Exciting stuff, right? It’s a Golf after all, so VW doesn’t want to rock the boat, especially considering sales are already on a downward trend.

The Golf R Variant is getting the same updates but the chances of receiving a US visa are slim to none. Because prototypes were spotted in [4]motion at the Nürburgring, spy photographers were unable to peek inside. However, adjacent images showing the front of the cars point to a major change happening in the cabin.

We can see the back of the enlarged touchscreen for the infotainment system, echoing EVs such as the ID.7 but also the new Passat wagon, another car not available in North America. On the outgoing Golf, the center screen is mounted on the same level as the digital instrument cluster. That’s not going to be the case with the facelifted version since VW will install a bigger, tablet-like touchscreen atop the dashboard.

The 2024 model year marks the end of the six-speed manual gearbox in the United States, not just for the R, but also for the front-wheel-drive GTI. However, there is a glimmer of hope the clutch pedal might not be dead after all. According to Autocar, VW had a change of heart about discontinuing the 6MT in the wake of loosened Euro 7 regulations. It’s only a rumor at this point, so take it with a proverbial pinch of salt.

The Golf GTI and R in the United States are already 2024 models, so the facelift won’t arrive sooner than the 2025 model year. With the ninth-gen Golf due around 2028, it means you’ll have three to four years to get a hot hatch with a turbocharged gasoline engine.

VW has said the GTI and R will live on in the electric era and has already introduced a conceptual GTI without a combustion engine.

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