Volkswagen’s Golf R, 2.0T hatchback, can best be described in two words. “Pocket Rocket.”
Yes, this 5-door AWD (4Motion) compact is a blast to drive. Handles like a sports car but rides like a midsize sedan, even with tall, 19-inch low-profile Continental tires.
This 3,373-pound hatch is offered with either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed DSG automatic transmission.
Powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder, it churns out an impressive 228-hp and 280 lb/ft of torque at a low 1,800 rpm. It provides this potent torque up to its redline of 6,500 rpm that, with AWD, maintains good traction on both dry and wet, snowy roads.
Coupling this engine to the quick shifting, dual clutch DSG 7-speed auto trans with paddle shifters, Golf R was independently tested at 4.7 seconds for 0-60 with launch control. And get this, this little four earns EPA mileage ratings of a miserly 22 city, 29-highway mpg.
Without a doubt, the powertrain combination provided exhilarating acceleration on up to its redline. And when doing so, its exhaust puts out some racy tones.
But performance is not all that makes the Golf R stand out among its competitors. A comfy, upscale leather interior has exceptionally supportive yet Euro firm perforated leather front seats that have contrasting light grey stitching. This adds to the cockpits’ attractive design that follows through to the flat-bottom steering wheel, 8-inch touchscreen and 10.8-inch digital instrument cluster display with driver information data melded into the overall design. Sporty brushed aluminum pedals complete the racy interior look.
The console houses a mode switch with Eco, Comfort, Normal, Race and Custom selections. Most are explanatory however Race mode, as the others, shows a pictorial of the side of the car on the touchscreen. Race mode also alters shift points, higher rpm’s and exhaust tone changes to a snarly, brrrrmmm sound that warms the heart of any sports car enthusiast.
Included as well are apps through VWs Connect smartphone integration along with Travel Link, Nav, XM radio, Traffic and a handy Weather map with forecasts and temperature. These, plus a host of others for a drivers’ convenience.
Ingress/egress into the back seats is a bit of a squeeze. Wider opening back doors could remedy this. And tall rear headrests block rear visibility somewhat. Lower profile ones like the center rest would improve the rearward view.
Back in the cargo area there’s 22.8 cubic feet of space with the 60/40 split seats upright. That translates into a cargo depth of 29.5 inches, 41.5 wide and 28 high. Flip the seats and capacity expands to 52.7 cubic feet for 59 inches of load depth.
Beneath the cargo floor there’s a four-inch deep bin that houses the Fender audio’s amplifier around wherein small items can be stowed out of sight. Also there is a tire inflator kit that replaces the spare tire to save space and weight.
Driving wise, and as said, Golf R handles like a compact sports car that exhibits nary any body lean in sharp turns with its wide track. It’s planted. The ride on low profile 19-inch Continental tires is on the Euro firm side. As such, road imperfections and tar strips can be felt. But hey, it’s a sports car for the young and young at heart.
Golf R is loaded with almost every available convenience item (like Park Pilot) and safety features such as forward collision warning/autonomous braking with pedestrian monitoring, blind spot monitor with rear traffic alert, adaptive cruise and more. With those along with App-Connect and the 7-speed automatic trans, there are no extra cost options. With a base price of $40,885 and delivery of $850, Golf R carried a bottom line of $41,735. Yes, it’s steep. But to get this much performance and handling with Euro flair, you’re talking BMW, Mercedes or Audi, all of which cost more.
To its credit, Golf R comes with generous and transferable 6 year, 72,000 bumper-bumper warranty.
Safety wise, the Golf R received impressive government 5-star safety ratings. Its overall score was a full five stars with five for driver frontal crash, four for passenger, five for front/rear seat side crash and four for rollover.
Golf R exhibits VW’s fine German engineering and quality. And the Golf name has been in the line for many model years. Golf is also offered in an “e” all-electric version if the ultimate in economy is more important to you than performance.