It’s the hot hatchback Volkswagen Golf fans have been waiting for. The Golf R returns to the performance car battleground with more punch, but also the promise of greater engagement behind the wheel. So what’s new?
Power comes from the latest iteration of VW’s EA888 that now boasts a Type R-matching 316bhp, but it has more torque than the Honda at 420Nm. Thanks to an intelligent all-wheel drive system and a faster DSG gearbox (no manual option), 0-62mph takes just 4.7 seconds and the car has an official top speed of 168mph with the R Performance option – 155mph without. Breaking performance has also been improved with larger front discs and a system that’s lighter overall.
Sitting 20mm lower than a standard Golf, the R also features a more athletic body with enlarged intakes and a prominent boot spoiler. It remains the most sober of hot hatchbacks to look at, but its subtle hints of speed are what attract some people to a Golf R over competitors.
A new torque vectoring system in the 2021 Volkswagen Golf R not only allows the distribution of torque front to rear, but also side to side on the rear axel. The use of multi-disc clutches means that the Golf can be flexible about where it channels its performance, making for a more agile car as a result.
The aforementioned R Performance option not only increases the car’s top speed, but also unlocks two new drive modes. A Nuburgring mode will give drivers the exact setting that allowed this Golf R to lap that infamous track some 17 seconds faster than its predecessor. The other is a Drift mode, not unlike the one seen on a Ford Focus RS, that will help drivers slide the car.
R Performance equipped cars get 19-inch alloy wheels and more notable aero work. An optional lightweight Akrapovic titanium exhaust saves 7kg.
The new Volkswagen Golf R sounds like it was worth the wait, however, at £39,270 before options, it is also one of the priciest hot hatchbacks on the market.