The high-performance family hauler has made the trip from Wolfsburg to the Nordschleife for a series of fast-paced tests.

Remember the 2018 Golf R Variant prototype we spotted at the beginning of the month? It’s back. This time around, there’s footage straight from the ‘Ring with the all-wheel-drive compact wagon taking some serious abuse from the test driver. Volkswagen is currently making some last-minute tweaks to its range-topping Golf model, one that is expected to be blessed with more horsepower.

Taking into account development of the impressive 400-hp 2.0-liter turbo shown in the Golf R400 concept has been terminated, it means the road-going Golf R facelift will solider on with the existing TSI unit. The good news is we are expecting a bump in output over the current 300-hp specification as a way to restore the power order in the Golf range since the R is now weaker than the limited-run GTI Clubsport. The latter provides an impressive 310 hp channeled to the front wheels, which has allowed the hot hatch to become the quickest FWD car on the ‘Ring where VW was testing the other day this all-paw Golf R. It remains to be seen how much power the R will gain, but it’s probably a safe bet to expect a bump in output of 10 hp channeled to both axles through a seven-speed DSG bound to replace the existing six-speed ‘box.

VW Golf R Variant facelift spy photo
VW Golf R Variant facelift spy photo

But enough with the mechanical changes. Elsewhere, the mid-cycle refresh for the Golf R will bring subtle changes to the front and rear bumpers, along with modified graphics for the headlights (full LED instead of bi-xenon + LED DRLs) and taillights. The biggest novelty on the inside will be represented by the adoption of a larger touchscreen for the top-spec infotainment system. It’s going to have a 9.2-inch diagonal and will provide gesture control support. In addition, the facelifted Golf range will also grab the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster from the larger Passat.

The Golf R is available in United States exclusively as a five-door hatchback, but things could change with the facelift taking into account the regular Golf SportWagen has gained an optional 4Motion all-wheel-drive setup for the 2017 model year. The revised Golf in U.S. guise will likely arrive for the 2018MY, so it’s going to take a while to find out whether the more practical body style in the meaty “R” edition will indeed hit stateside.

Meanwhile, the revised Golf family in European flavor will likely be introduced next month when VW has already announced it will show an updated e-Golf with a 300-km range. Based on a spy video from yesterday also shot at the ‘Ring, VW’s “R” family might be expanded with the addition of a first-ever Tiguan R.

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