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Volkswagen Golf R | Video Review | CarsIreland.ie

The R is the Volkswagen Golf in its fastest, and most powerful form to date. But it doesn’t shout about it.

The R is the Volkswagen Golf in its fastest, and most powerful form to date. But it doesn’t shout about it.

  • Fastest production Golf to date

  • Four wheel drive power

  • All the practicality of a Golf

90%

Overall Rating

  • High running costs

  • Looks won’t be loud enough for some

  • Digital cockpit a little lacklustre

Overall Rating

Overview

The R might look unassuming, but underneath that familiar shape and understated styling lies a sleeping beast.

Powered by a 2.0l 4 cylinder petrol engine, it pushes out a ridiculous 310 bhp. That’s 80 more than the current GTI, and it sends that power to all four wheels.

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Interior Gallery

Performance & Running Costs

First things first. Is it as fun as a GTI? Yes, and even more so. Not just because it’s quicker and more powerful, but because that four wheel drive power gives you the type of confidence and control in every twist and bend, in every weather situation, that just makes you want to drive it hard and fast, all the time. And it sounds phenomenal.

As for the handling, the suspension is of course a bit stiffer than a normal Golf, which is what you want in hot hatch – but not ridiculously so, and it does still manage to stay reasonably comfortable on the B-roads. Even on the optional larger 19 inch wheels on our test car, it never felt too harsh.

The steering is quick and responsive, offering great feedback, and those sports seats really hug your body when you’re going into those bends.

To cover off the not so fun stuff – the official claimed fuel economy is 6.6l per 100km but you won’t get anywhere close to that unless you drive it like a normal Golf, and what would be the point of that?

In saying that, you actually can do just that when you want to and that’s important to know too. It’s still a Golf at the end of the day and so can be kept relatively under control around town and on the daily grind, especially when you put it into the very sensible Eco mode which calms everything down nicely.

Space & Practicality

It’s still a Golf in all the other practical ways too. There’s good storage in the cabin, and plenty of room for two adults or three kids in the rear. The boot does lose a few litres off the standard model because of the four wheel drive.

It’s a lot subtler inside than the GTI. R logos adorn the premium sports seats and flat bottom steering wheel in an other wise quite unremarkable cabin. There’s also a special aluminium gearstick and the illuminated accents are blue instead of the usual red which makes it feel very understated and cool. It’s a fitting extension of the exterior.

Equipment and Safety

Improvements they’ve made to this R over the last one (besides the extra power of course) include the subtle changes to the headlamps it shares with the standard Golf, those funky running indicators, and an upgraded infotainment system. The screen is now bigger, glossier, and easier to use than ever before.

It also gets a digital instrument cluster which does look very well but could benefit from some sort of enhancement when you put it into Race mode. It doesn’t really feel any different to what’s in a normal Golf.

The standard Volkswagen Golf scored the full five star rating in the Euro NCAP safety test, and extra safety kit fitted as standard on the R includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Emergency braking and blind spot monitoring.

Reliability & Residuals

The price gap between the R and the GTI has shrunk considerably over the last few years, making the R a more attractive upgrade than ever before. The question is if the subtle ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ image will appeal across the board. Some people like their wolves in wolve’s clothing, and seek a bit more attention in a hot hatch.

Whichever iteration of a Golf you choose, the name is good and regular maintenance should ensure years of hassle-free fun from your investment. Their relative scarcity on the used market should also ensure a strong residual value.

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Details correct at time of publication
2017-09-13T14:34:05+00:00

About the Author:

Sinéad’s career in motoring began in a car showroom where she got a feel for what really matters to the customer when buying a new car. She has a degree in Journalism and Irish from DIT where she specialised in TV and Production. These days she is delighted to be combining two passions (movies and metal) by shooting, presenting and producing video reviews of new cars for CarsIreland.ie. She is a member of the APMP (Association of Professional Motoring Press) and has a vote in the Irish Car of the Year awards.