With Volkswagen confirming the next-generation Golf will be an EV, we are possibly looking at the last facelift the conventionally powered model will ever get. This prototype combines the combustion engine with an electric motor for the GTE plug-in hybrid. It was caught by car paparazzi during hot-weather testing ahead of an official launch scheduled to take place in 2024 when the equivalent Skoda Octavia will also go through a mid-cycle update.

Volkswagen didn't even bother to cover the redesigned, slightly slimmer headlights. Well, maybe that's because the changes are subtle and the folks from Wolfsburg might've thought people wouldn't notice. Eagle-eyed readers will also notice the front bumper has been mildly updated but VW cleverly slapped on some camouflage to hide the tweaks. The prototype seems to be missing the X-shaped, five-point LEDs in the bumper unless the disguise is playing tricks on us.

2024 Volkswagen Golf GTE facelift spy photos

Moving at the back, there are stickers to cover revised taillights that seem to have the same shape as on the pre-facelift Golf GTE. The ghastly fake exhaust tips are still there, although we're getting the feeling it's just fake chrome that will (hopefully) be removed for the production car. Overall, the changes on the outside will be subtle, such much so that only diehard VW fans will notice the differences right away.

Our spies couldn’t peek inside, but it’s hard to hide that bigger screen. You can easily see how it sticks out from the dashboard; a striking contrast compared to the neatly integrated infotainment of the previous-generation Golf. Other VW Group cars will be getting the new setup, including the next-generation Tiguan and Passat as well as their Skoda counterparts, the Kodiaq and Superb. An early test mule of the Golf Mk 8.5 was seen in September 2022 with the giant display.

It's too soon to say whether there will be any changes underneath the bonnet, but we should point out that the new Kodiaq debuting this fall is getting a plug-in hybrid version based around the 1.5 TSI engine. The reason we're bringing this up is that the Golf GTE uses the older 1.4 TSI, so it could mean the VW Group's upcoming PHEVs will switch to the newer turbocharged petrol engine. However, time will tell whether that's the case.

When it arrives next year, the Golf facelift is expected to do away with the touch-sensitive controls on the steering wheel as VW has admitted customers dislike them. Meanwhile, the new Tiguan debuting in the coming months will be the first to drop the capacitive-touch controls.