The Golf is a staple of the South African motoring landscape. Local buyers have been privy to each and every generation since the Mk1. Now, a VW Golf Mk8.5 has just been released. The released of the latest version of the top-selling hatch coincides with the 50th anniversary of the model. Click here for an overview of all the previous GTI generations.

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New Look

VW has given the Golk Mk8.5 a subtle makeover. Among these are are redesigned lights, front and rear as well as a revised intake and grille. One of the more noticeable changes is the new alloy wheel design. We gotta admit, these look very much as though they were taken from an Alfa Romeo.

More importantly, VW has given the cabin a complete once-over. The Mk8 came under fire for a cabin that is not user-friendly. The updated version ditches the finicky touch-sensitive buttons on the steering in favour of physical buttons.

The infotainment system has also been replaced. Top-end versions get a 12,9-inch touchscreen unit sited atop the facia. VW has incorporated ChatGPT as a digital voice assistant, as it announced at the CES in Las Vegas a few days ago.

More Power

VW SA took an interesting approach with the Mk8. The local subsidiary only sells performance versions here. That is to say GTI and R derivatives. We expect the same line-up when then 8.5 version goes on sale here. Although, there is no official word as to when this make take place.

The VW Golf Mk8.5 GTI has more power than its predecessor. The 2,0-litre turbocharged engine has an additional 15 kW of power, taking the maximum up to 195 kW. Peak torque remains unchanged at 370 N.m. VW has done away with any manual option and the engine is mated solely with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.