Volkswagen Golf R car review
- We like...Powerful but civilised
- We don't...Too low-key for some
If you want quick, this is it. Quite simply, this is the fastest-accelerating Golf that Volkswagen has yet built for the road. It employs all-wheel drive to push 267bhp out from its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and can rush from the kerbside to 60mph in 5.7sec.
Mind you, you’d never guess any of this just by looking at it. It may have an asking price that’s the best part of £30,000; a huge sum to spend on a three-door, five seat hatchback. But, park it outside your local Tesco’s and it’ll attract no more than a passing glance. Big alloys and spindly tyres give the biggest visual clues to its intent, followed by its reduced ride height and twin exhausts. But otherwise there are just darkened rear windows, a tiny rear spoiler and discreet ‘R’ badges to mark it out as something different. A Golf GTi may be slower and cheaper but, judged by looks alone, it’s faster.
Inside, the theme continues. The dash and switchgear are the usual quality stuff you’d expect in a Volkswagen. But tiny ‘R’ badges on the steering’s lower spoke and on the passenger’s side of the dash are among the few pointers towards fast-car status. Those and the deeply bolstered seats with ‘R’ motifs, which, even so, are no full-on racing buckets.
The sober tone continues once on the move. Those exhausts parp out a deeper note than any other Golf’s but they’re muted at idle and at town speeds. Only when you take to open roads do they even begin to rumble out a proper sports sound-track. It’s gloriously quick, pulling easily from low revs in every gear and hurling you at the horizon whenever you pack on the power. And though there’s much clever fettling involved in coaxing so much power from a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder engine (which is as you’d find in an Audi S3), it’s even-tempered and gives its power easily whether you’re going for it or just tootling.
There’s not the precision and feedback from the steering that you’d want in a performance car but the mechanism has enough weight and feel to get the job done. But what may surprise you is the ride. Big alloys and skinny-sided tyres usually make for a rigid set-up that’ll have you crashing across broken Tarmac and thumping into potholes. Yet this Golf eases over the bumps well, showing a composure that’s almost at odds with its potential. For a firmer, more focused ride, thumbing a button next to the gear shift moves the ride from ‘comfort’ to ‘sport’.
Should you buy one? If you like quick cars that don’t look it, the R will be perfect. But the cost is an issue. Plenty will want something to flaunt in return for that much cash, while others will turn without thinking to models wearing more prestige badges.
If you love Golfs above all other cars, it’ll be a must-have, though.
- Engines2.0 turbocharged petrol
- 0-60 mph5.7secs
- Insurance groups36E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: