Volkswagen Golf Mk8.5 facelift coming to Malaysia this year – special 50th anniversary edition GTI too

Ahead of the launch of the new Volkswagen Touareg this afternoon, Volkswagen Passenger Cars Malaysia (VPCM) managing director Denyu Bostandzhiev took to the stage to give his speech, which came with a tantalising teaser about the company’s future plans.

Bostandzhiev said the company had big plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Golf, which has been kicking around since 1974. While his statement was ambiguous, the mere mention of this can only mean one thing – the facelifted Golf Mk8.5 is coming to Malaysia this year.

As a refresher, the revised five-door hatchback that was revealed in January features slimmer headlights (with a new IQ.Light matrix LED option made available), an even larger “smiley” lower grille lifted from the new B9 Passat, new taillights with C-shaped graphics and a mildly reprofiled rear bumper.

Volkswagen Golf Mk8.5 facelift coming to Malaysia this year – special 50th anniversary edition GTI too

The hot GTI version gains an angrier “fanged” front bumper (still with the five hexagonal fog lights on either side) and loses the fake fender “vents”, the GTI badged now moved to the front doors. It also marks the return of the beloved “telephone dial” alloy wheels that were first introduced on the Mk5 GTI. However, the bigger changes are to be found on the inside, where Volkswagen has implemented several usability tweaks in response to a barrage of media and customer complaints.

These include a brand new (and hopefully much faster) infotainment system with touchscreen sizes up to 12.9 inches (previously ten inches max), illuminated air-con control sliders (finally) and physical steering wheel controls – in the style of the previous Mk7 model – to replace the capacitive touch items. There’s also a new IDA voice control system with ChatGPT integration.

Under the bonnet, the rejigged Golf is globally available with a choice of four turbocharged petrol engines, two turbodiesels, two 48-volt mild hybrid petrol engines and two plug-in hybrid variants. On the GTI model, the venerable 2.0 litre turbo mill gets a 20 PS power boost to 261 hp, still mated to a seven-speed DSG wet dual-clutch transmission.

Volkswagen Golf Mk8.5 facelift coming to Malaysia this year – special 50th anniversary edition GTI too

The GTI is currently the only variant on sale in Malaysia – the R-Line was dropped last March, and the high-performance R model has yet to be formally launched in CKD form, despite being previewed in August – and we expect it to remain this way for now.

Now, one might be wondering how VPCM is getting the Mk8.5 Golf in so quickly, having taken two and a half years for the preceding Mk8 (and a whopping six years for the third-generation Touareg). One advantage the company has this time around is that the plant in Pekan, Pahang has now been outfitted with tooling for the Mk8 generation, so a minor change shouldn’t be too hard to implement.

Bostandzhiev offered another teaser during the event, saying that VPCM will be celebrating the Golf’s half-centenary with a special edition GTI. This points to the Golf Edition 50, which comes with “50” B-pillar and steering wheel badges as well as Edition 50 side sill scuff plates.

The Golf Edition 50 offered overseas

There’s only one problem with this – the Edition 50 is only offered on cooking versions of the Golf, not the GTI model. Of course, because the car will be CKD locally assembled, adding these bits to the hot version wouldn’t be too difficult. We also shouldn’t discount the possibility that this will be a locally-developed special edition that’s specific to our market.

So, are you excited for the VW Golf Mk8.5? We certainly would – it will be interesting to drive a new Golf with the Mk8’s usability kinks ironed out.

GALLERY: Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk8.5

GALLERY: Volkswagen Golf Edition 50 Mk8.5

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