What is this?
Even in generation eight, the Volkswagen Golf R is at the top of the hierarchy. And that’s immediately apparent in its body kit, which adds a lot of elements to the body that promotes cooling of the subcutaneous mechanics and improves aerodynamic stability. Despite the large roof spoiler on the tailgate and the rear, blessed with four fist-thick end mufflers, the R looks a lot more mature than the somewhat more playful VW Golf GTI.
Between the front wheels is the well-known 2.0 TSI, in the Volkswagen Golf R the turbo petrol is good for a power of 320 hp and a maximum torque of 420 Nm – that is 20 hp and 20 Nm more than the Clubsport. That power is put on the tarmac via a robust DSG seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that links the engine to the 4Motion four-wheel drive. The result: 0 to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds. The top speed is 250 km/h, although you can optionally increase it to 270 km/h. Also for the steered DDC suspension and the Akrapovic exhaust line you have to impose.
The interior of the Volkswagen Golf R combines well-supported sports seats with R logos and blue stitching. The digital instrumentation gets a specific layout with an F1-like rev counter, so you can see when you need to upshift. In manual mode, the DSG transmission does not automatically upshift, even if the rev counter hits the limiter. The shift paddles rotate with the steering wheel and feel good, but could be slightly larger. Manual shifting with the poker is no longer possible.
What is changing?
The Volkswagen Golf gets a lot of sporty versions, ranging from the plug-in hybrid GTE and the diesel GTD to the fast GTI and the even faster GTI Clubsport. But the king of the range is and remains the VW Golf R. On paper anyway, because in recent generations the four-wheel drive top version had a hard time justifying its status and its dynamic added value on the more playful GTI. Generation 8 completely rectifies that lopsided situation.
Thanks to the new 4Motion all-wheel drive. The drive forces are distributed not only for the front and rear wheels, but also between the rear wheels themselves. This vectorial torque distribution reduces understeer (assisted by the xds locking function on the front wheels), increases dynamic efficiency and adds a serious dose of driving pleasure. Especially if you go for the optional R Performance package, which costs about 1,800 euros.
That R Performance package adds the Drift and Nürburgring driving modes. The first position sends as much torque as possible to the outer rear wheel, making controlled slides child’s play. The second combines the Race calibration of the drivetrain (engine response, transmission, steering…) with a softer chassis setup, which should lead to gun times on the Nordschleife. The Volkswagen Golf R could round the Ring in 7.51, nearly 20 seconds faster than its predecessor.
The Volkswagen Golf R was always the more powerful, but somewhat duller brother of the GTI. That is no longer the case, because the clever 4Motion all-wheel drive gives this hot hatch different faces. Agile in the city and comfortable on the highway, efficient on the track and playful on a deserted mountain pass. Something for everyone. It’s a shame that you only free those options via the option list.