Review: Volkswagen Golf R (2014)
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.
Volkswagen Golf R (2014): At A Glance
- New prices start from £32,880, brokers can source from £28,775
- Contract hire deals from £289.04 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 30–39
- On average it achieves 78% of the official MPG figure
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?
Volkswagen Golf R (2014): What's It Like Inside?
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.
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.
What's the Volkswagen Golf R (2014) like to drive?
- Engines range from 2.0 TSI 310 DSG Estate to 2.0 TSI 310 DSG
- Readers report Real MPG to be between 23–39 mpg
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.
|2.0 TSI 300||40 mpg||5.1 s||165 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 300 DSG||39–41 mpg||4.7–4.9 s||159–163 g/km|
|2.0 TSI 300 DSG Estate||39 mpg||4.9 s||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.
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.
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