While the upcoming Mk8 Volkswagen Golf will only be revealed later tonight, official photos of the model have been posted by Motor Elpais well ahead of schedule, giving us our first clear look at the latest iteration of the popular hatchback.

According to reports, the new Golf is claimed to measure 4,280 mm long and 1,460 mm tall, while the wheelbase has increased from 2,640 mm to a more substantial 2,840 mm. As we’ve seen in previous leaks, the Mk8’s exterior styling is more evolutionary rather than revolutionary, as the overall shape looks largely similar to the outgoing Mk7.5.

What’s immediately obvious is the new front end, which is highlighted by significantly slimmer headlamps with a trailing “tail” on each cluster that leads towards the front wheel arches. The grille also occupies a smaller footprint this time around, with Volkswagen’s latest logo prominently displayed in the middle.

As for the lower apron, the Style trim sees a wide width intake that is garnished with horizontal slats running across it. Look closely, and you’ll spot that there are body-coloured or silver accents on them to add to the visual flair.

Meanwhile, cars with the R-Line treatment get a more aggressive bumper with a rectangular mesh design as well as black garnishing around the lower intake. For the GTE plug-in hybrid variant, it gets a honeycomb mesh insert along with a left-side charging port and what looks like an illuminated grille.

Looking at the rear, we find two-piece headlamps that are smaller in size than before, and they even come with a slight kink at their base. The tailgate has also been reshaped to provide a larger aperture for easier loading of items, and we get to see the new “Golf” script that sits just below the badge cover.

Other changes include more slender reflectors that are now positioned high up from the faux exhaust outlets located in the lower section of the bumper. While the Style trim has covered-off “exhausts,” the R-Line gets trapezoidal-shaped ones with actual cutouts on either side.

While the exterior may not signify big changes for some, the interior is a whole other story. There is an entirely new dashboard layout here, with almost all of the controls for the car’s functions placed in line with the driver’s field of vision.

First up, there’s a touchscreen infotainment system that also handles the climate settings, and there are additional controls at the base of the unit in case you don’t want to fiddle with the display. Just below this, you’ll find more buttons for drive modes, driver assistance systems and quick access to the climate settings. These controls are located on a wide-width trim piece that mimics the front apron, with integrated air vents.

Volkswagen appears to have taken a page out of the latest 992 Porsche 911, as the gear selector on automatic models is now just a small rocker knob, which takes up a lot less space than what you’ll see in the Mk7.5. This allows for the start button, electronic parking brake and auto hold controls to be arranged in a single file, creating a small cubby.

Models with a manual transmission will not get the cleaner-looking setup, and are fitted with a circular start button and much larger switches for the aforementioned control instead. Regardless, both have similar stowage spaces, with one located just below the USB C ports and the other being the two cupholders.

From the driver’s seat, the familiar digital instrument cluster display makes a return, albeit housed under a more expressive cowl that also encompasses the centre touchscreen. Look to the left, and you’ll see that there’s no longer a dial to control the car’s lighting system, as there are now buttons mounted close to the instrument cluster instead.

In terms of engines, expect a range petrol options, including a 1.0 litre three-cylinder as well as 1.5 and 2.0 litre four-cylinder units. We should also expect a 1.5 litre running on compressed natural gas and a range of turbodiesel powerplants. A plug-in hybrid version is a definite but it is likely that the e-Golf will be dropped to make room for the ID.3.