With over 200,000 R models built since 2002 the latest Golf R has been revealed. With a modest 220 staff in eight departments making up the R performance wing of Volkswagen the new 320hp all-wheel drive Golf R looks like the best yet. We attended the online launch in Germany to get all the details.
The R story began with the mark 4 Golf based R32 – that was an absolute beast. In 2005 the mark 5 R32 came along to be followed in 2009 by the Golf 6 R. 2013 gave us the mark 7 R, now 18 years on, the new mark 8 Golf gets its range topping model. It looks the part sitting 20mm lower than the Golf. With the performance pack specified and optional two-piece rear spoiler its very sharp but it can also slip under the radar in standard guise – bar the quad exhausts pipes, diffuser and chrome mirror caps (lets hope these caps are less easy to steal)! A large air gulping front grille and R badge announce its presence. Oh and the 7kg lighter titanium Akrapovic exhaust system delivers a primal rumble.
Inside its a screen-fest with a few R touches. The R specific steering wheel incorporates new paddle shifters. A blue R button on the left of wheel does magical things – much like BMW M car’s M button.
Under the bonnet is a four cylinder 2-litre engine that produces 320hp and 420nm from its EA888 engine. Top speed is 250km/h but it can be raised to 270km/h with the optional performance pack. A 7-speed DSG shift by wire (as with Golf 8) features as standard. The box has short shift times and adaptive shift points too. There will not be a manual version and VW told Motorhub that the DSG is what customers want and its more efficient too.
The chassis has been really worked over and there is a lot to take in. The car while technically impressive and a beast is designed to also work well in day to day use. The front camber has been increased (same as new GTI Clubsport) and overall springs stiffened. The R’s revised steering system features a fast rack (2.1 turns lock to lock). The suspension has been fine tuned. New 18 inch and 19 inch wheels feature with new tyre choices. The latest vehicle dynamics manager delivers the power to all four wheels and when you need to scrub off speed the R’s powerful and lighter braking system (-1.2kgs) is from the GTI Clubsport but tuned differently but they should do an excellent job. New torque vectoring control at the rear features and this will help keep the car on the intended track and flatter your driving skills. The new rear drive unit allows 0-100% torque split from left to right and allows precise drifts if the driver requires. Three driving profiles are standard with an individual mode also. The car’s default setting is Sport, the other two; Comfort and Race mode do what you’d expect. Two further modes under the Race setting called Special and Drift come with the performance pack – these do further dark arts to help slingshot the car through time itself! Various dash displays can be selected by the driver with all the technical stuff car nerds love.
So does all the new stuff work when push comes to shove? The new Golf R in the hands of VW’s test pilot Benjamin Leuchter has lapped the infamous ‘Green Hell’ Nordschleife in 7 minutes 51 seconds – that’s 19 seconds faster than the Golf 7 R. VW is looking at the future for its whole model range including petrol and electric vehicles – both will continue to play a role due to different markets demands globally. The Golf R is due in Ireland in February with a price tag of circa €61,500.