Volkswagen updated the Golf lineup at the beginning of the week, but it deliberately left out the range-topping model. Ahead of a full release slated for mid-2024, the R is showing up in the first official images. The all-wheel-drive hot hatchback is wearing a distinctive blue wrap to conceal a design we saw a few days ago on the lesser versions.

Sure, there are some subtle changes for the R but it's still very much a Golf. The tweaked front bumper has a centrally mounted radar sensor you won't find on the outgoing model. The lesser models now have that as well since the Mk8.5 brings a raft of updates for the driver assist and safety systems. It honestly sticks out like a sore thumb but this has been an issue on some cars for many years.

2025 Volkswagen Golf R with camouflage

The folks from Wolfsburg are not sharing any details about the new flagship Golf version. The power gap between the GTI and the R has narrowed with the release of the facelift. The front-wheel-drive model has gained 20 hp for a total of 261 hp. The outing R has 315 hp. Lest we forget that Europeans got a more potent R 333 version last year with 328 hp. Rubbing salt into the wound, a Golf R wagon is available on the Old Continent, too.

On the flip side, Europe's Golf R is sold strictly with the DSG whereas its American cousin can be had with a stick. Well, not for long because the manual is dead after the 2024 model year. In fact, the GTI is also going to be DSG-only going forward.

Since we mentioned forbidden fruits America is missing out on, VW has also been selling a track-focused GTI Clubsport with 296 hp and a jacked-up Alltrack wagon. The German automaker continues to have an extensive Golf lineup in Europe and other parts of the world where it sells a GTE plug-in hybrid performance hatch and diesel versions, among other flavors.

Reinhold Ivenz, Head of Volkswagen R, says the revised Golf R will premiere sometime this summer.

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