No, your eyes are not deceiving you – this isn’t just a rundown Mk7.5 Volkswagen Golf GTI with skinny tyres on the Nürburgring, but the first test mule of the all-new Mk8 Golf. The hullabaloo surrounding “Dieselgate” has not affected the development of Wolfsburg’s breadwinning model, so the next-generation family hatchback is still on course for a late-2019 introduction.

While the body may look identical to the current model, look closely and you’ll notice that the wheel arches have been pushed out slightly, and the rear bumper has also been extended to give a closer representation of the new car’s extra length. Inside, the Active Info Display instrument cluster has been revised with the warning lights moved from the top to the sides of the display.

Elsewhere, the climate control switchgear has been moved up to where the infotainment screen used to be. Given that the new Touareg‘s air-con controls now sit above the centre air vents (top-spec models get a 15-inch centre display that incorporates the climate controls), we’re expecting this layout to be found on the new Golf as well. The gearlever has also been switched to the Touareg’s electronic unit.

The new Golf will likely ride on a revised version of the current model’s MQB architecture, with the increased use of lightweight materials expected to provide a 50 kg weight reduction. It should also receive a 48-volt electrical system that will open up new possibilities in terms of powertrain technologies.

The 1.5 litre turbo TSI Evo petrol engine, which was introduced on the Mk7.5 facelift, is set to gain a particulate filter to reduce emissions, while the Bluemotion model’s cylinder deactivation and engine-off coasting functions could become a standard feature on many other models. The 1.0 litre TSI three-cylinder, which replaces the 1.2 TSI, should also be carried over.

On the diesel side, the existing 1.6 litre TDI will reportedly be phased out in favour of a new 1.5 litre mill, while an updated 2.0 litre TDI will be offered in three power outputs. Both units will feature a new selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system, tipped to provide a 10% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

Bigger changes are on the way for the GTI, which is set to gain a mild hybrid system with an integrated starter motor, in a bid to improve performance and refinement while reducing fuel consumption and emissions. The electric motor is expected to provide a boost function, while an electric turbocharger will also be introduced. Sources indicate a target power level similar to the 261 hp Golf GTI Clubsport.

Lastly, the GTE plug-in hybrid is expected to substitute its 1.6 litre TSI engine for a naturally-aspirated version of the 1.5 litre TSI petrol to reduce costs. All models will be offered with either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, as well as a 4Motion all-wheel drive system.