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The 2025 VW Golf R Gets an Angrier Face and More Power

But it keeps that terrible touch-sensitive steering wheel

2025 Volkswagen Golf R front
  • The Golf R gets a new face for 2025.
  • It also gets a bit more power from the 2.0-liter turbo.
  • There's also a new Black Edition that's, well, black.

Much like its less powerful GTI-badged sibling, the Volkswagen Golf R is getting a hefty update for 2025. The looks are new, there's more power, and that darned touch-sensitive steering wheel is still irritating us via its sheer existence. That gripe aside, the interior also gets some updates that should quell some of the usability gripes we have with the current car.

The exterior gets a hefty massage for the refresh. The front bumper features an even bigger and angrier maw and some squintier headlights, while the rear makes do with a new design on the taillights. The headlights aren't just meaner, they're also better in the dark, with 15% more range than before. The 2025 changes also feature a new wheel option. The 19-inch forged wheel is called Warmenau — named after the town where Volkswagen's R division is headquartered — and they weigh just 17.6 pounds each.

2025 Volkswagen Golf R rear.jpg

More power for 2025

Power from the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (the EA888 VW fans know very well by now) is up from 315 horsepower to 328 hp — that makes it the most powerful production Golf ever made. It's also punchier than the Civic Type R, Integra Type S and Mustang EcoBoost. Power is sent through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to all four wheels, and there is no longer the option for a manually shifted Golf R. If you're really in need of a Volkswagen with a stick, the 2025 Jetta GLI is the only new one left for sale (even the GTI is now auto-only). Top speed is now 167 mph, up from 155 mph.

The way that power gets distributed hasn't changed for 2025. That trick all-wheel-drive system can still send up to 100% of the engine's available power to the outside rear wheel. This is done automatically based on the steering angle, unless of course you activate Drift mode, in which case the Golf R is capable of big-time RWD-style powerslides. The Comfort, Sport, Race, Individual and Drift modes found on the current Golf R are joined by a new Eco mode for 2025. Though performance cars aren't always about fuel economy, Golfs of all ilks are historically great road trippers, so an Eco mode might help you maximize a tank on those longer hauls.

As before, the suspension setup is a strut-type front with multilink rear end and the car is supported by VW's Dynamic Chassis Control adaptive dampers. The shocks can firm up or slacken off based on what mode you're in. These systems don't always offer the greatest breadth between comfort and sporty firmness, but the system in the Golf R has always been remarkable in that it offers great compliance or great handling depending on what you need. As before, the dampers, stability control system, and the diffs all talk to the car's central brain (aka the Vehicle Dynamics Manager) to the betterment of handling.

2025 Volkswagen Golf R interior interior.jpg

Some interior things change, some stay the same

Inside there is one very noticeable change: the massive new infotainment screen that measures 12.9 inches. The big screen is now divided into distinct sections. The top bar gives drivers quick access to the drive modes, parking functions, driver aids and media. The middle portion of the screen is dedicated to tiles that display info like the navigation system and radio, but you can still default to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The bottom bar grants permanent access to the climate controls and heated and cooled seats.

Sadly, unlike the GTI, the Golf R retains the infernal capacitive touch buttons on the steering wheel. We've ranted and raved about how difficult that makes the interface to use, and though VW says it has made improvements, we simply would have preferred the wheel with physical buttons. Sigh, until next time, VW.

2025 Volkswagen Golf R engine bay

Murdered-out special

Volkswagen also pulled a "one more thing" out of the hat for the 2025 refresh. There will be a new Golf R Black Edition. It is, as you might have guessed, the very same car described above, but with everything in, erm, black. For those of you who don't believe the trend of murdering out your ride died half a decade ago, this is the Golf R for you. Oh, and it comes with the optional lightweight forged wheels as standard (and in black), which is a nice touch.

Both the refreshed Golf R and the Black Edition will go on sale in the U.S. later this year, and while we won't get pricing for either until closer to then, we were told by VW that both will cost more than the current car's $47,690 starting price.

Edmunds says

Is the screen too much? Can we notice the extra power? We won't know until we drive it — stay tuned.