Car review: Volkswagen Golf R

Car review: Volkswagen Golf R

It’s hard to believe that the Golf in its 43rd year of production, older than many of you out there.

Yes, it’s still going strong and the Golf R Mk 7 reaches the pinnacle of what has been a very long life for this popular model.  And it’s understandable really, the Golf’s a great size, not too big to be unwieldy, but there’s enough space for a comfortable ride for 4 people, but small enough to be nimble and easy to park.

Of course, the Golf comes in all sorts of variants, with a range of petrol and diesel engines, but the ‘R’ model is the petrol powered 2 litre turbocharged version, the most powerful Golf ever produced with nearly 300bhp, that’s about 70bhp more than the already quick GTI.

The Golf R is limited to a very safe 155mph

The Golf R is limited to a very safe 155mph as per the gentlemen’s agreement between German manufacturers.

There’s always a worry with front wheel drive cars that overloading with power  results in much wheel spinning and lack of control at the front, so VW have fitted 4Motion, their front wheel biased 4 wheel drive power train system.  So the usual scenario where you swiftly pull out from a side road, only to find the front end of the car scrabbling for grip is totally averted, as the rear wheels step in to provide much more stability to the power delivery.

The balance and poise this system brings to the car is a real triumph.  The previous Golf R was fitted with the much-loved V6 unit, so you have to wonder why they’d ditch this in favour of the 4 cylinder 2 litre one?  Probably because the 4 cylinder engine’s cheaper to produce, but to be more charitable, I’d say it was done to reduce front-end weight to improve handling.

Quad pipes, the only visual cue to this car's amazing performance

Quad pipes, the only visual cue to this car’s amazing performance

Whatever the reason, they’ve created an incredible pocket rocket, to say this car is quick is an understatement.  With a 0-60 time of just over 4.5 seconds, you need never worry about having enough acceleration when overtaking slow-moving traffic.  The engine delivers power in a way you wouldn’t expect, with masses of torque from 2,000 rpm, and revs rapidly gathering pace all the way to the redline.

VW’s greatest triumph with this car has been to endow the car with a level of road holding and cornering capability that’s quite staggering.

The Golf R truly is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Nigel Jones

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This article was written by
Nigel Jones

By profession an engineer (graduate), Nigel's been publishing magazines since 1995 (some 20+ years now). The original magazines he established (Sidmouth and Budleigh Diary magazines) are still in publication today. Passionate about countryside and historical heritage, the magazines reflect this interest. Nigel's the Editor of the Devonshire magazine which he established in 2009.