Volkswagen Golf R (2014 – 2020) Review
Volkswagen Golf R (2014 – 2020) At A Glance
The Volkswagen Golf R sits at the top of the performance tree for this hatchback range, yet it doesn’t shout about its abilities in the way it looks. Rather, the Golf R does its talking when you get behind the wheel and experience its turbocharged 2.0-litre engine with more than 300PS on tap. This is delivered through a four-wheel drive system to make sure every ounce is used to best effect, and you have a choice of manual or DSG automatic gearboxes. There are also three- and five-door hatches, and an estate for good measure.
For anyone who likes the subtlety of the Volkswagen Golf GTI but wants more performance, the German firm has offered the R version for many years.
Rather than a faster version of the GTI, the R is very much a standalone model and this is emphasised by this top of the tree model having 4Motion all-wheel drive where the GTI makes do with front-drive.
The R is certainly restrained by the standard of rivals such as the Honda Civic Type R or Mercedes-AMG A35, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything shy or retiring about its performance. When launched in 2014, the three- and five-door hatch and the estate models all packed a 300PS 2.0-litre turbo petrol four-cylinder engine. There was also a choice of six-speed manual or DSG auto gearboxes.
Under the bonnet of the Golf R 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.
In 2017, power was increased to 310PS and there was also the option of a Performance Pack. This did nothing to the power figure but relieved the R of its top speed limiter at 155mph. So, the hatch could march on to 166mph and the slightly more aerodynamic estate could hit 168mph.
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.
The DSG version needed just 4.6 seconds for the same sprint. In anyone’s book, that makes the Golf R a very quick car indeed and one that only the very quickest of hatch rivals could get near, such as the Mercedes A35 and Ford Focus RS in its third generation with four-wheel drive and 2.3-litre motor.
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.
Some might find the interior a little too similar to the Golf GTI’s, but that’s no bad thing in our book as the Golf’s cabin is always a comfortable, superbly well built place to pass any journey.