The R is Volkswagen’s most powerful and fastest Golf ever but would you buy one asks Geraldine Herbert
What is it? The R is Volkswagen’s most powerful and fastest Golf ever and competes with rivals such as Ford’s new Focus RS, the Mercedes A45 AMG and Audi’s S3.
Who is it aimed at? This is a very grown up hot hatch and with a starting price of €42,445 its not aimed at your average girl or boy racer.
Styling? The exterior of the Golf R is an exercise in subtlety but look closely and the bumpers, lights and chiselled air vents are clues to just how radically different this car is while the quad tail pipes are tuned to deliver an exhaust note with a spine-tingling howl that pairs beautifully with the car’s excellent acceleration and overall performance.
Under the Bonnet? Subtle it’s not. Hit the ignition and the VW Golf R sounds fast – and it is – that growl when you start up is from the same engine as in the Audi S3 so its a 2.0 litre turbocharged engine with 300bhp and rips from 0-100 in 4.9 sec and reaches a licence-losing top speed of 250km/h. It may share the same transmission and engine with the S3 but there’s a rawness to the Golf R that is particularly appealing.
What about inside? Once inside you are reminded at every opportunity that this a Racing version of the Golf. Gone are the red pinstripes and tartan cloth GTi signatures replaced by the aluminium trim on the pedals, leather-wrapped steering wheel and the bespoke R instrument dials.
On the Road? Slip behind the wheel and there is a sense of occasion, that knowledge that you are driving something out of the ordinary. The Golf GTI’s handling has always been really good but the R is a noticeable step up in almost every way. The R’s grip is incredibly good, it feels really light, steering is as sharp as it gets and the harder you push it, the better it responds. With a substantially revised version of the GTi’s suspension and a four wheel drive system the R sticks like glue to the road irrespective of weather conditions. It is also very comfortable and absorbs any bumps on the road surprisingly well.
And Safety? As you’d expect – and, let’s be honest, need – the Golf R is loaded with safety features that helps tame this beast including a five star EuroNCAP rating, higher safety specification and four-wheel-drive system for extra grip.
Options? The Golf R is available as a three or five door and a choice of manual or automatic transmissions.
Economy and cost? Running costs will relate directly to how much fun you’re having, but the official figures suggest the Golf R returns 6.9 litres per 100 km or 40.1 mpg. Co2 emissions are 159 g/km so it will cost you €570 per year to tax.
Verdict? The Golf R is a super blend of beastly power and practicality, sporty yet economical, classy but understated and ferociously fast but incredibly composed. At €45,280 it is a rare indulgence but it is an intoxicating amount of fun in a practical everyday car; when it comes to sizzling hot hatches this is, quite simply, as good as it gets.
Why you’ll buy one? Handling, refinement; practical
Why you won’t? VW’s GTi does most of it for less
Watch a video of the Golf R Below
Volkswagen Golf R 2.0 TSI
Engine: 1984cc, 300bhp @5,600 -6,200rpm, 380Nm @1800-5500 rpm
Max speed: 250km/h
0-100 kph: 4.9 seconds
Emissions (Motor Tax) : 159 g/km (€570)
Model price range: €42,445 – €45,280 (test Car – €45,280)
No of Doors: 5 doors
Euro NCAP : 5 stars
Fuel type: Petrol
Fuel Economy (combined cycle): 6.9 l/100 km (40.1 mpg)
Boot Capacity Seats up (down): 380 litres (1270)
Car Seats: 2 Isofix fittings in the rear
20th March, 2015