With a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 300 PS and 280 lbs ft, and transferring its power to the road via the latest 4MOTION four-wheel drive system, the new Golf R is the fastest-accelerating production Golf yet, with a zero to 62 mph time of just 5.3 seconds (compared with 5.7 seconds for the previous model), or 4.9 seconds when fitted with the optional six-speed DSG gearbox. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph.
The new Golf R isn’t just faster, either: with combined fuel consumption of 39.8 mpg* (40.9 mpg* for the DSG version), and CO2 emissions as low as 159 g/km it is up to 18 per cent more efficient than its predecessor.
At the heart of the R is a newly developed version of the EA888 TSI engine used in the latest Golf GTI, but in this application producing 300 PS. Compared with the GTI’s powerplant, the Golf R’s engine has a modified cylinder head, exhaust valves, valve seats and springs, pistons, injection valves and turbocharger.
The Golf R’s four-wheel drive is the latest fifth-generation Haldex system. Under low loads or when coasting, the rear axle is decoupled, helping to reduce fuel consumption. It takes only fractions of a second for drive to the rear axle to be engaged via the Haldex coupling, which is actuated by an electro-hydraulic pump. If necessary, almost 100 per cent of power can be transferred to the rear axle.
The Golf R rides on specially tuned springs and dampers, with a ride height that’s 20 mm lower than that of the standard Golf (and 5 mm lower than that of the GTI). Adaptive Chassis Control will be available as an option. Like the GTI and GTD, the Golf R is equipped with progressive steering, which reduces the number of turns lock to lock to just 2.1, rather than 2.75, making for an enhanced dynamic driving experience.
Visually, the Golf R is distinguished by its new front bumper design, with large air inlets, modified radiator grille with ‘R’ logo and newly developed daytime running lights that are integrated into the standard bi-xenon headlights. At the side, there are bespoke body-colour sills, while behind the standard 18-inch alloy wheels with 225/40 tyres are black-painted brake calipers with ‘R’ logos. The brakes themselves are all ventilated discs: 30 mm by 640 mm at the front and 22 mm by 310 mm at the rear. At the rear, there are smoked LED tail lights, an ‘R’ diffuser and four chrome-tipped exhaust pipes – two at either side.
The interior features sports seats with a cloth centre section and Alcantara bolsters, while the instrument dials are bespoke for the R, and include typical touches such as blue needles.