Gone are the days when the Golf was dominating the sales charts in Europe at the end of every year. Volkswagen's compact car is not even in the top 5 anymore as market researcher Dataforce ranks it seventh through November 2023. Even so, it remains a popular car considering 166,304 units have been sold on the Old Continent in the first eleven months of the year. Come 2024, a mid-cycle update will hit the market.

In an official video highlighting how VW kept busy this year, CEO Thomas Schäfer looked back at important product launches. The list of new vehicles included the next-generation Tiguan and Passat, along with the ID.7 and an updated ID.3. At the end of the video, the company's head honcho announced the Golf facelift would be released at some point in 2024.

Judging by the roof rails, we're looking at the Golf estate. It has the new headlights spotted on prototypes caught in recent months undergoing testing. The "unibrow" LED light bar is staying, bisected by an illuminated VW badge. When the Touareg facelift was introduced earlier this year in Europe, it too had a backlit badge, but at the rear.

The Golf Mk8 already has a death sentence even before the Mk8.5's premiere, which is supposedly happening early next year. VW has announced the electric-only Mk9 is coming in 2028 on the Group's new SSP platform. Unless the two will peacefully coexist for a while, the Golf with a petrol/diesel engine is going to be retired in roughly four years’ time. Side note – VW has announced it'll produce only EVs in Europe from 2033, so the writing is on the wall for Wolfsburg's ICE-powered cars.

Meanwhile, it seems unlikely the Mk8.5 will put the Golf back on top of the sales charts. The test vehicles spied this year suggested mild changes to a design many have rightfully labelled as dull. Inside, VW is putting a massive touchscreen because that seems to be the norm nowadays. The Tiguan, Passat, and ID.7 also have giant tablets, and the Golf will follow suit.

The GTI might keep the manual after all despite rumours claiming it would go DSG-only, and there could be more power in tow for the hot hatch. VW will also update the range-topping R, which is also offered in some parts of the world as a more practical estate.

Gallery: 2024 Volkswagen Golf Variant facelift spy photos