Volkswagen covered up its slightly modified Golf GTI facelift for the 2024 CES with a unique covering. Removing the pictures of the hot hatch from the infotainment system was something the Wolfsburg people neglected to do. The 2025 GTI is visible while navigating through the menus on that enormous screen—it is not disguised.
The fact that we now have a reasonably clear picture of the 2025 Golf GTI is what matters most, regardless of whether it was a mistake on the side of VW or a purposeful leak. The blurry image, which is just a screen grab from the movie below, displays the modified headlights. As they go closer to the light bar, which is now divided by an illuminated logo. The typical red trim is still there, extending from one headlight to the other.
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 the five LEDs forming the letter “X.” The car’s “mouth” seems bigger because the black part of the bumper now extends to the area underneath the VW badge. On the outgoing GTI, that section has the same color as the rest of the body.
There are also new “fangs” that rise toward the center of the air intake. Those alloy wheels are shiny and reminiscent of a Skoda design from the mechanically similar Octavia RS. It should come as no surprise that the remainder of the profile is the same for a model who had facial surgery.
VW appears to have subtly updated the taillight designs on the back while keeping the same size and form. The back bumper has the similar appearance, but the resolution is poor and the angle isn’t that fantastic. In contrast to Europe’s peppery GTI Clubsport, VW’s showcar at CES in Las Vegas features an extremely massive rear spoiler.
These are subtle differences, but no one was really expecting a major design overhaul for a mid-cycle VW 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 to see the GTI’s facelift or not. 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. Personally, I wouldn’t count on a three-pedal setup.
The world premiere of the updated Golf is slated to 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.