Volkswagen Golf R: first official pictures ahead of summer launch

Just days after revealing the new 2024 Golf, Volkswagen has shown the four-wheel-drive R hot hatch in public for the first time. 

The Golf range-topper was on display in prototype form – alongside the already-revealed GTI, GTE and eHybrid variants – at the Zell am See ice race in Austria over the weekend. 

Wearing a commemorative ’50 years of Golf’ camouflage livery, the new Golf R took to the ice circuit as part of a celebration of Volkswagen’s four-wheel-drive performance brand, ahead of its full unveiling this summer.

Head of the division Reinhold Ivan said: “Volkswagen R is Volkswagen’s premium performance brand and has stood for sportiness and dynamic performance for more than 20 years. Here at the Ice Race, the past meets the future. We can hardly wait for the Golf R, still disguised here, to celebrate its premiere this summer.” 

Like the standard Golf and GTI, the R has not been visually reinvented, but will follow them in gaining a new interior that seeks to right criticisms of the eighth-generation Golf line-up, with a new infotainment system, the reintroduction of physical buttons and a raft of higher-quality cabin materials. 

It will be marked out externally from the current R by a new illuminated Volkswagen emblem and new-generation LED matrix headlights – alongside, no doubt, extra colour and trim options – including the new R-badged alloys worn by this prototype.

It’s expected to be a case of evolution rather than revolution under the bonnet, too, with VW’s most powerful hatchback retaining its 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, though likely with power boosted slightly above the 316bhp of today’s car. It will be the final petrol iteration of the Golf R, with the performance brand shifting to an electric line-up by 2030. 

VW has given no indication of how far it can take the EA888 motor, but 2022’s special-edition Golf R 333 – the most expensive Golf yet sold – boosted output to 328bhp for a top speed of 167mph and a 0-62mph sprint time of 4.6secs. 

Volkswagen has shown the R in hatchback form, but earlier prototype sightings confirm that the Golf R estate will make a return as a rival to the recently updated Mercedes CLA 35 shooting brake. 

Prices will be given closer to launch, but a slight premium over the current £43,215 is expected.


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