Despite its increasingly aggressive push to electrify, Volkswagen isn’t walking away from some of its most familiar models, notably the Golf GTI. And it offered a first, thinly disguised look at the hot hatch, due out next year, during a news conference at CES 2024 this week.
Almost as an afterthought, the 2025 Golf GTI made its first public appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show this week. VW had little to say about the hatchback itself — other than confirming it will be one of the first six VW products to get AI-powered ChatGPT.
The GTI on display during the Volkswagen news conference shouldn’t be confused with the Polo-based ID.Golf that, as Headlight.News last week reported, will go all-electric. The hatchback shown in Las Vegas will continue to share the same, larger platform as more mainstream versions of the Golf family.
The focus is on tech
With traditional auto shows losing their luster, Volkswagen — like many competitors — has become infatuated with CES. It gave a first showing of the ID.7 in Sin City last year. And, as with the all-electric sedan, VW plastered the 2025 Golf with some wild camouflage to keep us guessing about the final design. But those familiar with the current model will likely recognize that the hatchback won’t get a radical makeover. There do appear to be some modest tweaks to the grille — which grows a bit larger — and to lower air intakes. Lighting also gets a few minor updates.
This is more of a midcycle update … from an exterior design perspective anyway. But there’ll be bigger changes to the cabin and, even more significantly, to the technology that will be loaded into the 2025 Golf GTI.
There are now more buttons on the steering wheel, for one thing. But there’ll be fewer conventional controls on the instrument panel, with VW adopting a 15-inch, tablet-style touchscreen — compared to today’s 10-inch screen — rising out of the instrument panel. As before, the 2025 GTI mercifully adds a small, separate touchscreen below the tablet display for some key climate and volume controls.
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Chatting it up
Why put the new Golf on the stand at CES only weeks before it’s supposed to get a formal debut? To counterbalance the ID.7 also on display.
VW will use AI technology to update its current IDA voice assistant for 2025. And the ChatGTP system initially will be added to six new or updated models using either the all-electric MEB platform or the more conventional MQB evo architecture.
The technology “is relevant to our customers,” said Kai Gruenitz, the Volkswagen board member in charge of technical development. “It’s key to letting our customers operate their vehicles intuitively.”
As with the current IDA voice assistant, motorists will be able to ask for directions, change a radio station or adjust the interior temperature. But the AI system will let you go well beyond. Want some Indian food, you can ask it to find the nearest — or the highest-rated — restaurant nearby and even get the recipe for that great chicken tikka masala you like. Traveling a long trip with the kids? It can tell them stories to help keep them occupied.
It’s possible VW may skip the owner’s manual, as ChatGTP will be able to instantly provide you with a readout on everything you might need to know. And, at least in some future models, may be programmed to monitor vehicle health — not only reminding you of when to get the car serviced but also predictively warning about potential breakdowns.
What we do know is that there won’t be a manual transmission going forward, one of the few things Volkswagen has already signaled about the 2025 Golf’s powertrain system. A dual-clutch transmission is expected to be mated to a version of the current hatchback’s 2.0-liter engine. And it would surprise no one if the automaker upgrades that inline-4 to get a bit more muscle than its current 241 horsepower rating.
We’ll have to wait to find out more. Unfortunately, turning to the ChatGTP system in the CES prototype failed to reveal any additional information about the 2025 Volkswagen Golf GTI.