Volkswagen put a special wrap on its Golf GTI facelift for the 2024 CES show to shroud its updated design. What the folks from Wolfsburg didn't do was hide images from the infotainment system showing the hot hatch. Navigating through the menus of that huge new screen shows the 2025 GTI without any camouflage.

It's unclear whether that was a faux pas on VW's part or a deliberate leak, but what matters most is that we have a somewhat clear image of the 2025 Golf GTI. The grainy photo – which is actually a screen capture from the video below – shows slimmer headlights attached to a light bar, which meet at an illuminated VW logo. The typical red trim is still there, extending from one headlight to the other.

2025 Volkswagen Golf GTI

2025 VW Golf GTI

VW Golf GTI, Golf R Aftermarket Accessories

2024 VW Golf GTI

As you can tell from the side-by-side comparison above, the front bumper has been slightly redesigned. However, it retains the honeycomb pattern and five LEDs forming the letter "X." The car's "mouth" looks larger due to the black part of the bumper now extending to the area underneath the VW badge. On the outgoing GTI, that section uses body color.

New "fangs" that go upwards toward the center of the air intake are also noticeable. Those alloy wheels look new and remind us of a design used by Skoda for the mechanically related Octavia RS. The rest of the profile appears to be identical – hardly a surprise for a facelifted model.

At the back, VW seems to have given the taillights a discreet update to the graphics while retaining the same shape and size. The rear bumper looks the same, but the angle isn't that great and the resolution is subpar. VW's CES show car has an impressively chunky rear spoiler in the same vein as Europe's spicy GTI Clubsport, but that isn't the case here.

2025 VW Golf GTI

2025 VW Golf GTI

These are all subtle differences, but no one was really expecting a major design overhaul for a mid-cycle update. The interior will also be more of the same, except for that supersized screen and the return of hard buttons on the steering wheel. It's worth nothing the Golf Mk8 has had old-school buttons on the steering wheel from day one on lesser versions sold in Europe and other markets. The more expensive ones such as the R-Line, GTI, and R had those dreaded capacitive-touch keys.

The jury is still out on whether the manual gearbox will live on. The Golf GTI 380 was the last with a stick shift, but rumor has it that VW might've had a change of heart in light of loosened Euro 7 regulations. Should the clutch pedal survive, hopefully it'll soldier on in the R as well. In the meantime, the official word from VW is the do-it-yourself gearbox is dead in the GTI and R.

The world premiere of the updated Golf will take place in the coming weeks. Hopefully, the performance variants are going to be unveiled together with the mundane versions not sold in the United States. Bear in mind the Golf has a vast global lineup, which includes a GTD hot diesel hatch, an R wagon, a GTE plug-in hybrid sporty hatch, and the plebian variants with three-cylinder 1.0-liter and four-cylinder 1.5-liter gasoline engines.

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