What kind of chemistry do you have with your car? Love it? Loathe it? Let us know and you could win a £300 John Lewis voucher | No thanks

Volkswagen Golf R (2014–)

Last updated 3 June 2019

Surefooted all-wheel drive handling. Impressive performance. Subtle styling. Three body styles.
Less exciting than a Focus RS. Estate is DSG auto only and is annoyingly intrusive. Restricted power output from September 2018 to meet WLTP targets.
Updated 6 November 2018

Report of failure of DQ500 7-speed wet clutch DSG in July 2017 Golf R 310PS at 7000 miles. O ff the road for just over three weeks due to production and shipping of the replacement DSG box from Germany....

Read more


If the 220PS Volkswagen Golf GTI feels a bit too slow for you then don’t worry – it has a big brother. With 300PS and all-wheel drive, the Golf R is extremely capable, but it’s also far more restrained, subdued and mature than rivals like the Honda Civic Type-R and the Ford Focus RS.

Visually the Golf R isn’t all that dramatic. The R badges are small, there’s no oversized rear wing and the body kit is fairly subdued. But there are hints that a performance car lurks underneath. Quad exit exhausts, large alloy wheels and smoked rear lenses don’t shout "power", rather they whisper it.

Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol, putting out 300PS and 380Nm of torque. Importantly that torque is available right the way from 1800rpm to 5500rpm, so there is plenty of readily accessible overtaking performance almost regardless of which gear you are in.

The all-wheel drive system does a good job of transferring that power to the road. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 5.1 seconds with the manual transmission and cornering grip is huge. The R can be driven with absolute confidence, despite its impressive performance, with great body control and accurate steering.

Inside it’s as restrained and well-made as any other Golf, with three-door, five-door and estate body styles offered. It is well-equipped, with climate control, a touchscreen navigation system, auto lights, auto wipers and cruise control included as standard, along with selectable drive modes.

It’s all extremely impressive, but despite its all-round capability it lacks the fizzy, characterful personality of some rivals, most notably the Ford Focus RS. That’s a very good thing for buyers who don’t want quite so much attention on the road, but for others it will make the Golf R - despite its performance - feel a little cold. 

Owners' reviews

Sophisticated and understated Super Hatch that still knows how to party
A very fine machine indeed.
List Price from £36,180
Buy new from £30,208
Contract hire from £289.04 per month

Ask Honest John

Value my car