Review: Volkswagen Golf R (2014)

Rating:

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.

Recently Added To This Review

2 November 2019

Sticky clutch problem reported with 2015 VW Golf R bought 1 month previously with 45k miles. W hen changing gears frequently at low speeds, or under rapid acceleration, the clutch pedal can often stick... Read more

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

16 October 2018

Report of "hot brake dust" damaging the lacquer on the alloy wheels of a 2015 Golf R. Read more

Volkswagen Golf R (2014): At A Glance

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. 

What does a Volkswagen Golf R (2014) cost?

List Price from £36,345
Buy new from £31,541
Contract hire from £289.04 per month
Get a finance quote with CarMoney

Volkswagen Golf R (2014): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4258–4596 mm
Width 1790–2027 mm
Height 1436–1515 mm
Wheelbase 2620–2637 mm

Full specifications

The Golf R might be extremely quick, but it’s still a Golf – and that means it’s every bit as practical as a Golf should be. There are three-door, five-door and estate body styles, so if you have a family, there is a variant suitable for carrying a pushchair and a child seat, or a teenager and their friends.

The estate is obviously the most practical version with a 605-litre boot, expandable to more than 1600 litres with the middle row folded down. The downside to choosing the estate is the lack of a manual transmission option – it’s DSG auto only. That said, the hatch isn’t too bad with 343 litre behind the rear seats.

Build quality is typical Volkswagen. Everything is solidly screwed together and material quality is excellent. Golf R variants have slightly different seat upholstery compared to other Golfs, but otherwise there isn’t much to set the R apart from any other Golf – but that’s not a bad thing, especially considering the standard equipment.

A 6.5-inch touchscreen with navigation, cruise control, climate control, Bluetooth and DAB are included on all examples of the Golf R, plus there are various options including a larger 8-inch touch screen, 19-inch alloy wheels, dynamic chassis control, leather upholstery and premium paint finishes including the popular Lapis Blue, pictured here.

Standard Equipment:

Golf R includes 18-inch alloy wheels, R exterior styling, matt chrome effect door mirrors, dark light clusters, oval tailpipes, black diffuser, sport front seats, cloth and Alcantara upholstery, 6.5-inch touchscreen with DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, navigation, climate control, adaptive cruise control, speed limiter, auto lights, auto wipers and parking sensors.

Child seats that fit a Volkswagen Golf R (2014)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

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What's the Volkswagen Golf R (2014) like to drive?

Thanks to its 300PS power output and 380Nm of torque, the Volkswagen Golf R can get from 0-62mph in under 5.0 seconds with the DSG auto transmission, or 5.1 seconds with the manual. It’s not just rapid from a standing start either – that peak torque figure is available from 1800-5500rpm, so overtaking performance is excellent.

Also setting the Golf R apart from the GTI is the 4Motion permanent all-wheel drive system, which provides excellent traction when accelerating and massive grip through corners. Even in poor weather the Golf R feels incredibly sure-footed, helped by a positive, accurate gear change, strong brakes and well-weighted steering.

That said, the Golf R is less exciting and exhilarating than a Honda Civic Type R or a Ford Focus RS, both of which feel a little more boisterous through corners, plus they both sound better under hard acceleration. But many buyers will appreciate the Golf R for being more mature – in fact it’s very easy to live with day to day.

Around town it’s as refined and easy to drive as any other Golf, plus it has cruise control and a speed limiter to make life on the motorway easier. It isn’t even all that expensive to fuel – official economy is just shy of 40mpg for manual models which isn’t at all bad for a car with 300PS.

The ride quality is firm, but rarely ever harsh or uncomfortable - even on optional 19-inch alloy wheels. Optionally buyers can specify dynamic chassis control which adds variable damping, with Sport, Comfort or Normal settings linked to the selectable driving modes.

The drive modes tailor the car to the situation – so for town driving the Comfort settings is best, since it makes the steering lighter and dampens throttle response. There is an Individual mode, which allows the driver to choose their preferences for each of the settings, including steering, throttle response and the air conditioning.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
2.0 TSI 300 40 mpg 5.1 s 165 g/km
2.0 TSI 300 DSG 40–41 mpg 4.9 s 159–163 g/km
2.0 TSI 300 DSG Estate 39 mpg - 164 g/km
2.0 TSI 310 38 mpg 5.1 s 180 g/km
2.0 TSI 310 DSG 40–41 mpg 4.6 s 160–163 g/km
2.0 TSI 310 DSG Estate 39–40 mpg 4.8–5.1 s 164 g/km

Real MPG average for a Volkswagen Golf R (2014)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

78%

Real MPG

23–39 mpg

MPGs submitted

264

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Volkswagen Golf R (2014)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

The clutch in my newly bought Volkswagen Golf R is slipping - is the dealer we bought it from liable to pay for the repairs?

I bought a manual Volkswagen Golf R 2016 at 7500 miles in September this year. I'm the second owner. The clutch has started to slip when going through the gears, but doesn't always do it. The car is with Volkswagen and they have rang saying the private dealer we bought it from needs to pay for the strip down to investigate. They said there's a good chance it’s very worn, but if they find a defect in the strip down they will cover the cost. Does the garage we bought it from need to pay?
That seems to be very fair. Volkswagen only warrants a clutch for six months unless there is a proven defect. But if the car was sold to you in September, then it is fairly safe to assume that the damage was "present or developing" before you bought the car and the dealer who sold it to you is liable under the six month rule: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/faq/consumer-rights All that said, people don't seem to realise that clutch life of a manual high performance car can be quite short and 10,000 miles is about the norm.
Answered by Honest John
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