Home / Social media / Cars / The Mk8.5 GTI is has arrived 50 years after the original Mk1 was released.


Time flies these days and there’s evidence in loads of things, including what you see here, a mid-life facelift for the Mk8 Golf. While some people in SA are still getting their pre-facelift Mk8 R models, the facelift has arrived. The timing of the release of this new facelifted version of the world’s most popular hatchback coincides with the model line’s 50th anniversary. The first series-produced Golf was built at the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg at the end of March 1974 and the official launch began in May of that year to mark the start of the new era of front-mounted engines with a front-wheel drive drivetrain. The new concept was so well received that by October of 1976, a whopping one million Golf had rolled off the assembly line. Since then the Golf has become a class leader with a plethora of spin-offs and related models with numerous trim levels. These days there’s a Variant, Cabriolet, e-Golf, GTI, GTD, GTE, and the flagship Golf R. To date, over eight generations of the car more than 37 million Golfs have been sold. Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Volkswagen Passenger Cars: “The Golf has been at the heart of the Volkswagen brand for half a century now, offering affordable mobility for all at the highest technical level. This is precisely what we are now building on with the new evolutionary stage – with even higher efficiency, comfort and quality and a new operating concept. The Golf does not get any better than this.” Imelda Labbé, Member of the Volkswagen Board of Management for Sales, Marketing and Aftersales: "With Golf, we have written a unique success story. The Golf stands for the Volkswagen brand like no other model. A car for all generations. And this has been the case for 50 years. With the continuous technical development of the new Golf, we are now adding another chapter to this success story."

Here at SXdrv, we’re only interested in two models, the GTI and the R, we’re cool like that. The new Mk8.5 GTI isn’t too far removed from the original Mk8 besides a few updates in the cabin and a slight tweaking under the bonnet. Outside there’s an update that includes the large honeycomb radiator grille in the bumper that’s framed by striking air guides and a front motorsport-style splitter, a red coloured stripe in the upper radiator grille and above newly designed headlights, round chrome-plated tailpipes on the left and right of the black rear diffuser, 17-inch Richmond wheels as standard (larger wheel are an option), premium sports seats in the legendary check pattern (which SA usually doesn’t get sadly, we usually only have the full leather option), a leather multifunction sports steering wheel, red stitching on the front head restraints, a red centre steering wheel clip are red, a gear knob with aluminium surround, a 30-colour background lighting system, a three-zone Climatronic system and a large Discover top-of-the-line infotainment system. For the first time, there is also a range of optional genuine carbon fibre interior accessories available. Under the hood the engine remains much the same, it’s still that popular turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder lump that’s mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. There’s a slight bump in power to 193 kW with torque not yet mentioned, but it can’t be much higher than the pre-facelift’s 370 Nm. The Mk8.5 GTI has just enough changes to make it a consummate upgrade over the Mk8, but no so many that it could be considered a Mk9. In all likelihood, when the 9th generation does eventually grace us with its presence, it will no longer feature an internal combustion engine which will make the last of the GTIs rather sought-after until ICE cars are eventually banned from the roads.

Take a look at the YouTube video from the world premiere of the facelifted Mk8 Golf that's now in the Mk8.5 phase, bang on 50 years after the world was introduced to the game-changing Mk1. Eight and a half generations later, the world's most popular hatchback is packed with technology, great drivetrains, and some pretty impressive power under the GTI banner. Hopefully, the top-spec versions will be here before the Mk9 is revealed: World premiere: New VW Golf 2024! | Volkswagen

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