The Volkswagen Golf is nearly here – and the GTI and Golf R aren’t far behind

You might have noticed that Volkswagen was fairly quiet at this year’s Geneva motor show. But don’t mistake this for inactivity, rather a build up to a very busy second half of the year headlined by the all-new eighth generation Golf. Seen here for the first time nearly completely free of exterior disguise, this is our best look yet at one of the year’s most important new cars.

One look at these images and, perhaps colour aside, Volkswagen has not taken any great risks with the new model, but then it really didn’t need to. The overall silhouette and proportions look familiar, but look closer and you’ll see crisper surfacing, larger wheel arches and a low, aggressive nose. The headlights, under the black tape, give the Golf a whole new face, one with a much more horizontal attitude dominated by a thick chrome strip running from edge to edge.

> Click here for our review of current Volkswagen Golf

It’ll still be built on the MQB platform, as one might expect, but as one of the first to utilise the now widespread modular component set, we suspect it’ll also go through a big update, with further emphasis on electrification and other powertrain technology. On top of the usual emphasis towards fuel saving, the new tech will also benefit the next GTI and R models as they turn to electrification to push the boundaries of hot hatch performance.

The core of this new performance will be the adoption of a new 48V hybrid system. As well as supporting fuel-saving technology such as engine-off coasting and an integrated starter motor and generator, the 48V system will potentially allow VW to include electrically-driven turbochargers to improve performance on models such as the GTI and R.

Although the new Golf will be based on the same basic chassis as the current model, the new car will be both longer and wider, offering greater interior space and providing packaging solutions for any future electric drivetrains. Regular Golf models will be powered by a selection of three- and four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engines, with a new diesel unit also under development.

The demand for the current GTE plug-in electric hybrid has all but guaranteed the Mk8 will also have a GTE model in its range, although it’s expected a fully electric Golf will be sidelined as VW ramps up its range of I.D electric cars. A manual gearbox will still be offered in the majority of new Golfs, but it is expected that VW will also introduce a new, more efficiency-focused automatic gearbox.

The Mk8 Golf will also receive a new interior and infotainment system. The latest Polo and Touareg SUV have both been launched with a ‘stacked’ designs, placing large, glossy infotainment screens high in the driver’s eyeline in conjunction with Volkswagen’s virtual dials. We expect the Mk8 Golf to offer a similar set-up, possibly integrating the all-new Touareg’s 15-inch infotainment system on higher trim lines, along with the latest autonomous driving and active safety technology.

Audi, SEAT and Skoda’s next generation of mid-sized hatchbacks (A3, Leon and Octavia respectively) will also benefit from the Golf’s development, with engine, gearboxes, connectivity and autonomous technology filtering through the group.

We’ll see the first production Mk8 Golfs later this year, with deliveries expected by the end of the year. The GTI and R models are expected to appear towards the end of 2019 or early 2020,