Volkswagen Golf Mk9 scooped: smarter, simpler, electric and due in 2028

Published: 06 September 2023

► What we know about the Mk9 VW Golf
► Will go electric using SSP platform
► Expected to launch in 2028

The first details about the all-new ninth-generation VW Golf have been revealed by brand boss, Thomas Schafer.

Volkswagen’s perennial family hatchback has been an automotive stalwart since 1974, developing across eight generations into one of the most recognisable nameplates in the world. There have been generations that have changed the recipe drastically – like the Mk5 in the mid-2000s and the rather controversial Mk8 that launched in 2019. The Golf 9 is shaping up to be a big change, too.

Before then, a Golf Mk8.5 makes its debut early in 2024 to see the generation out. Spy shots (pictured below) show that the interior, at least, gets a modest upgrade – mostly in the form of a larger central screen that echoes the one seen in the latest Passat and new-generation Tiguan revealed soon. Physical switchgear on the steering wheel makes a return, too, after the ham-fisted introduction of haptic panels didn’t go down all too well.

After that, though, comes a bigger revolution with the Golf Mk9, with Schafer saying the brand’s development of the new model is ‘full throttle, with no compromise.’ Here’s all we know about the new generation.

VW Golf Mk9: the family hatch goes electric

The biggest news is that the all-new Golf will be battery-electric only. Not much of a shocker, given current automotive trends, but one that hadn’t been officially confirmed up to now. That means the current eighth-generation Golf will be the last available with internal combustion engines.

‘There will be a Golf [in the future], and it will be a true Golf in terms of packaging and driveability,’ adds Schafer. ‘In the line-up that we are proposing up to 2028, we will probably put the Golf directly on the SSP platform.’

SSP is the Volkswagen Group’s silver bullet. No sets of platforms for different classes of car (like MEB for its smaller cars and PPE for its larger and more premium ones). There’ll be just one enormously scalable toolkit that can, figuratively, shrink as small as a VW city car or power a mega-sized luxury SUV from Bentley. The first cars on SSP are expected to launch from 2026, and Volkswagen AG says it expects up to 40 million vehicles across the Group brands are likely to be built using SSP by 2030.

Another point to make is that, under the current strategy, the Golf won’t be linked to an ID nameplate – we won’t see a car called the ID.Golf, for example. ‘Iconic names that are definitely decided and that will be carried into the future are Golf, Tiguan and GTI. The others [like Polo, Passat etc.] we will look at as a case-by-case basis,’ Schafer tells us after the reveal of the ID.GTI concept (pictured above) shown at the 2023 IAA Munich motor show.

VW Golf Mk9: infotainment and technology

This area hasn’t been an enormous strong point for Volkswagen recently. The rather dodgy MIB3 infotainment software that launched on the ID.3 and the Mk8 Golf was panned for its extremely laggy responses, several-menu-deep settings and rather dumb usability errors in its haptic steering wheel buttons and non-backlit controls.

But, according to VW head of technical development, Kai Grünitz, that’ll change: ‘We won’t bring any car to the road like you’ve seen with Golf and ID.3 with thousands of faults,’ he says.

Indeed, we’re already noticing that VW has listened. Our early demos of MIB4 – the software on the new Passat (pictured above) and upcoming Tiguan, for example – does seem like an improvement. The system reacts much faster to inputs, there are customisable slots on the screen for quick access to certain functions and the climate controls always reserve the bottom band of the display. A deeper test of the tech while driving will tell us more, however.

VW Golf Mk9: likely the first electric R production car

As the news comes that the electric GTX sub-brand is unlikely to survive beyond the generation of cars being launched now, Schafer also confirmed that R will also go electric for its production cars, alongside the wild track-only ID.R Pikes Peak machine.

‘R will probably only be with the SSP platform – to do that [level of performance] with MEB+ would be a stretch, and R has to be four-wheel drive in that space,’ says Schafer. ‘All of the ICE models will still be available as an R for now, but then we’ll switch to SSP in 2028.’ Convenient timing for an all-new, all-electric Golf R.

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, gamer, serial Lego-ist, lover of hot hatches