Currently reading: Volkswagen Golf R: first official pictures ahead of summer launch
Final petrol-powered Golf R brings styling updates and interior tech makeover - and likely 328bhp

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.

Felix Page

Felix Page
Title: News and features editor

Felix is Autocar's news editor, responsible for leading the brand's agenda-shaping coverage across all facets of the global automotive industry - both in print and online.

He has interviewed the most powerful and widely respected people in motoring, covered the reveals and launches of today's most important cars, and broken some of the biggest automotive stories of the last few years. 

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Bar room lawyer 28 January 2024

WOW it's a "Hot Golf", and, it looks like a Golf!

Peter Cavellini 15 November 2023

Starting to look like a fading Rockstar who has resorted to Botox and a facelift,it's starting to look old,great though the GTi has been its now getting shown up, VW should have moved the styling on years ago,plus the aftermarket tuners did do it, it's kind of moved on from the 25-30 age group to the 40-50 group,let's hope the EV GTi can save the iconic badge.

And so what actually 28 January 2024

these comments are so cringy

sabre 15 November 2023

If this is the Golf R ahead of 2024 lunch, we have a lot to expect after dinner.