The new VW Golf R has been revealed and it’s the fastest version of the iconic hatch ever. The all-wheel drive flagship Golf now has 296bhp, up from 267bhp, with its 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive sending the six-speed DSG version from 0-62mph in a feisty 4.9sec – matching the BMW M135i, but still shy of the Mercedes A45 AMG, which cracks it in 4.6sec.
>> Click here for CAR's A-Z guide to the 2013 Frankfurt motor show
Why would I buy this over a Golf GTI?
The R turns the wick up on the GTI: not only does it deliver 89bhp more than its stablemate, it sits 5mm lower, rides on cooler 18in alloys and wears a butch body kit to set it apart. In place of the GTI’s red, the R division’s signature blue hue has been integrated into the front grille and carries on into the bi-xenon headlights above the gaping front bumper air intakes. At the rear, there’s an R diffuser and smoked tail lamps, but a key signature of past R models – a pair of centrally mounted exhausts – has been binned for twin-oval chrome-tipped versions at each side of the car instead.
What else is unique to the R?
The Golf R is based on the new Mk 7 Golf, meaning it uses the same MQB platform with benefits including increased stiffness and a significant weight saving. While VW hasn’t released a weight figure, expect it to carry at least 40kg less than before and, despite the increased performance, the R uses less fuel, with an EU figure of 39.7mpg. On the driving front, there’s the clever XDS+ electronic diff lock on both axles, as well as an ESC Race setting, which for the first time since the Mk 5 Golf, allows you to turn the stability control completely off. There’s new ‘progressive steering’, too, which VW says is more responsive, while there’s optional Dynamic Chassis Control to switch between Comfort, Normal and Sport modes.
What else does the R come with?
The Race mode is part of the R's ‘Driver profile selector’. Pick this setting, and the R’s suspension firms up, throttle response sharpens and the DSG holds onto gears longer. The R concept is not a revelation, but the promise that the MQB platform has shown – and the brilliance of the Golf GTI – mean that the Golf R should be a standout performer from the driver’s seat.
What about inside?
The customary three-spoke, leather-wrap wheel is adorned with the R logo, which is also seen on the sports seats (with extra bolstering), the instrument cluster and the infotainment system. There are blue-rimmed dials and detailing, but the 320km/h speedo’s a little optimistic, as the R’s limited to 155mph. A 5.0-inch display is standard, but most buyers will opt for the 5.8-inch or full-colour 7.0-inch touchscreens instead.
How much is it and when can I buy one?
The Golf R will be in showrooms before the end of 2013, and should start at around £30,000 for a manual three-door version.>> Would you buy the Golf R over the BMW M135i or A45 AMG – or is the GTI the pick of the Golf range?