This is our first look at the all-new VW Golf R after an Auto Express reader spotted the hot hatch undergoing testing in South Africa. 

Even in this single image, there are several clues that this is more focussed than any previous new Golf seen so far. First, the wheels, whose design looks very like the optional 19-inch ‘Pretoria’ wheels used on the previous-generation Golf R. Those wheels fill the arches neatly – hinting that the ride height has dropped subtly relative to the standard Golf.

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The front bumper is very similar in design to the already-released Golf GTE plug-in hybrid, but a large intercooler is poking out from behind the grille panel. Unlike the GTE, the grille element isn’t illuminated, but finished in silver. The upcoming GTI will also borrow styling from the GTE so expect a familiar design throughout the performance-orientated side of the Golf line-up. With declining sales of the three-door Golf, Volkswagen will offer the R as a five-door only.

Specs of the next Golf R have yet to be confirmed, but Volkswagen bosses have already confirmed that the fastest iterations of the Mk8 Golf will have in excess of the outgoing car’s 296bhp. As before, drive is set to be deployed through VW’S 4MOTION four-wheel drive system. 

For this iteration of the Golf R, it’s expected that a mild hybrid system will help deliver extra performance. Unlike lesser versions of the new Golf, which provide a small electrical boost to reduce load on the combustion engine, it’s likely that the next R’s hybrid assistance will come in the form of an electrical compressor. Similar in principle to the system used by the Audi S6, this should help to all but eliminate turbo lag.

The image was sent to Auto Express by Twitter user Caleb J Schroëter, who confirmed that the photo was snapped in Uitenhage, Port Elizabeth. The location is close to Volkswagen’s South African factory.

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