‘This is my favorite hot hatch, coming alive when we played and feeling fun when we commuted. But it is pricey,’ blogs Dan Scanlan.
The Volkswagen Golf R’s turbocharged, direct-injected TSI two-liter four-cylinder engine is hooked to a twin-clutch DSG automatic gearbox and 4Motion all-wheel-drive. There’s 280 pound-feet of torque available from 1,800 to 5,500 rpm. With the dual-clutch direct-shift gearbox, it’s almost a second quicker to 60-mph than a manual-equipped version, two independent gearbox units allowing for a quick gear change with no interruption in power.
The DSG has “Normal” and “Race” driving modes, along with an “Individual” so the driver can program “Sport” or “Normal” into steering, engine, cornering lights and exhaust note individually. The transmission has its own “Sport” mode, which lets the DSG hold on to the gears for longer, as well as shifting down earlier as necessary. Or you can paddle shift, each downshift getting an engine blip.
A strut-type front suspension has a newly developed lower control arm, with a multi-link rear with different toe-link bearing tuning. “Normal” offers a comfortable but firm suspension, just fine for daily driving. Bumps were handled with a quick but buffered rebound. Since I toggled steering and engine to “Sport,” then tapped “Individual,” we had a much tighter and responsive steering feel and firmer suspension damping. Surprising livable on most roads, there was a bit of very firm buffering to cushion rebound off bumps.
Up front, the base Golf’s front bumper gets a new design as LED daytime running lights offer U-shaped rings around the headlights. The deep black lower air intake has a chrome-edged air dam, while functional side vents let you see intercooler and oil cooler behind. That “R” fender vent doesn’t do anything – it’s just jewelry. The taillights get square LED elements, while the reshaped rear bumper has a lower aero piece and dual chrome exhaust tips per side. The VW Golf R is a subtly aggressive, practical shape with just enough attitude to look cool.