Not too long now until the much-awaited reveal, the “Golf update” as Volkswagen likes to call it was flexing its muscles on the Nürburgring with camouflage on the front and rear fascias. In typical VAG fashion, we are not expecting any big changes in terms of styling, as the mid-cycle refresh will only bring subtle revisions to the bumpers, a switch to full-LED headlights currently available only on the e-Golf, as well as slightly modified taillight graphics.

There’s more to this prototype than a simple nip and tuck. The wires going out of the hood and inside the cabin are a clue VW was testing the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine. The TSI unit currently has 300 horsepower (224 kilowatts) delivered to both axles, but the engineers from Wolfsburg are likely making some upgrades to squeeze an extra 20 hp (15 kW) or so and regain the power crown from the front-wheel-drive 310-hp GTI Clubsport S.

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

The VW Group was developing a new turbocharged 2.0-liter gasoline engine with 420 hp (309 kW) as seen in the 2014 TT Quattro Sport concept, but the project was ultimately dropped because of high engineering and production costs. The engine was supposed to power a production version of the Golf R400 concept called “R420” to reflect the extra punch. Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen and it’s partially because of the Dieselgate forcing VW to make some serious cuts to raise money necessary to face the costly TDI debacle.

With the GTI receiving tons of versions with multiple outputs, maybe there’s a chance the all-paw R will spawn something along the lines of a more hardcore special edition.

Beyond the styling and engine changes, the interior cabin will also be subjected to a few tweaks. An all-digital instrument cluster borrowed from the larger Passat will be available as optional equipment, as will be a larger touchscreen for the infotainment system featuring gimmicky gesture control.

Following its reveal on November 10, the facelifted VW Golf should go on sale before the year’s end.

Gallery: VW Golf R Variant facelift spy photos

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