VW Golf R


Volk­swa­gen Golf R £32,520


AGolf R with DSG will now get to 62mph in 4.6 sec­onds, by VW’s usu­ally pes­simistic es­ti­mates. This is in no way hang­ing about. It’s a mas­sive 0.3 sec­onds quicker than last year’s.

What’s new? Not what you’d think. None of the usual Club­sport/RS/ Su­per­ve­loce trick­ery: air-con­di­tion­ing and the back seat are still mer­ci­fully present, there’s no car­bon-fbre roof, and power rises by a mere 10bhp.

Main credit goes to a seven-speed DSG, sup­plant­ing a six-speed equiv­a­lent. The stan­dard six-speed man­ual hasn’t al­tered, and so re­mains at 5.1 sec­onds 0–62mph. It’s quick enough against the clock, and even faster in real life be­cause of all the mid-range wal­lop, and the near-in­ex­haustible trac­tion to make use of it. The en­gine is game as you like, revving hard to a soft lim­iter some­where near 6,800rpm.

If it boosts per­for­mance only a lit­tle, the new en­gine does bring vi­tal TopGear ku­dos. It’s the ex­act same mo­tor ft­ted to the Golf GTI Club­sport S, as ped­alled by Sabine on telly to over­take a mil­lion pounds’ worth of me­tal on a lap of the Nord­schleife.

The me­chan­i­cal re­main­der – AWD sys­tem and chas­sis – is un­al­tered. The steer­ing isn’t the over-quick kind, but it’s re­ac­tive and pre­cise, and not both­ered by the bumps and cam­bers that so up­set the Ford Fo­cus ST. And you don’t have to get to the R’s cor­ner­ing limit be­fore you feel mes­sages from its tyres. If the head­bang­ing Fo­cus shouts at you in CAPS LOCK, and the Audi RS3 in a sparse few emoji, the Golf speaks po­etry.

Cos­metic tweak­age on the out­side is lim­ited enough that last year’s own­ers won’t be alien­ated. A new bumper holds slightly difer­ent in­takes and head­lamps, which are LED, as are the tail-lights, with sweep­ing in­di­ca­tors. The bumper has black-lipped ears on its outer edges to gulp air in – but with­out strakes and red stripes it’s sub­tler than a GTI.

In­doors, the vir­tual cock­pit TFT di­als are stan­dard, but I fnd my­self de­fault­ing back to the set­ting that looks like real clocks, so what’s the point? The stan­dard nav­i­ga­tion/comms is up­rated, and is good. Don’t on any ac­count get the op­tional all-glass nine-incher, which is too fddly and dis­tract­ing.

It’s busi­ness as usual at TopGear... if you want an all-rounder, get a Golf


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