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.

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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