There’s a lot to like about the current Volkswagen Golf and if you love the performance variants you’re likely to be extremely pleased with the hottest of the hot – the Golf R.
In wagon form, as tested, you also get that bit more practicality with more usable space than the hatch.
But, be warned, if you’re just after a high-spec Golf wagon then the R might be a bit much for you.
The Volkswagen Golf got a significant update in 2017 and while much of the focus was on improvements under the skin the Volkswagen designers also made some exterior tweaks.
These tweaks have helped keep what was an already attractive vehicle up with the competition, even the small cars that have welcomed completely new looks over the past year or so.
The Volkswagen Golf R is at the top of the Golf tree and welcomes a whole array of luxury and convenience features, including the fully digital ‘virtual cockpit’.
The seats are very sporty, but comfortable enough. While the D-shaped leather steering wheel feels great in your hands.
There is good legroom up front, however this is a small car after all and thus rear legroom is little more than adequate for adults.
Cargo space in the rear is very good (a lot better than the hatch) and there’s even a sub-floor storage space as well.
As is the case with all Volkswagen vehicles the Golf R Wagon boasts very good interior fit and finish.
The 2018 Volkswagen Golf R comes standard with:
- Reverse camera
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
- Push-button ignition
- Cruise control
- Electric driver’s seat
- Heated front seats
- Electric park brake
- Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
There are a couple of features that are missing that would be nice additions – Digital Radio and a powered tailgate.
While there’s an optional $1,300 Driver Assistance Package that adds:
- Cross Traffic Alert
- Blind Spot Alert
- Lane Departure Warning (with passive steer assist)
- Auto parking
- Adaptive Cruise Control
- High Beam Active Shadowing Headlights
Other options available for the Golf R include an upgraded stereo system ($1,000) and a panoramic sunroof ($1,900), there’s no additional charge for metallic/pearl paint.
Volkswagen’s Golf R is a performance-focused vehicle and delivers a real sports car feel.
The 2.0 litre turbo-petrol engine under the bonnet delivers 213kW and 380Nm and with power being delivered to all four wheels you’re looking at a zero-100km/h sprint in just 5 seconds.
That is pretty darn quick for a wagon!
In this application the DSG (dual-clutch transmission) works acceptably well.
With plenty of power on tap the transmission performs better than in applications such as my recent drive of the new Volkswagen Polo.
At times though, at low speeds, you can still get that slightly ‘grabby’ and ‘clunky’ kind of sensation from the transmission.
One thing that really works well in the Golf R is the wide selection of different drive modes that are available to you.
You have normal and sports modes on the transmission, then also drive mode select via the buttons on the console/infotainment system.
Mild to wild – you can have your Golf R set up in whatever mode suits your mood.
Interestingly, Volkswagen only offers a manual transmission in the R Hatch, the wagon is auto-only.
Another thing that can’t be changed are the low-profile tyres and that means on bumpy roads you feel every imperfection.
Seriously, only consider a Golf R hatch or wagon if you’re a performance car enthusiast – it really is quite hard edged.
Front-wheel drive variants of the current Golf (7.5) boast a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, the all-wheel drive versions are yet to get a score.
The Golf R Wagon though comes with the full array of driver assist systems such as AEB with pedestrian detection etc.
- Sports car feel in practical package
- Steering and handling
- Standard features
- Virtual cockpit
Not So Good Bits
- Really only for performance car enthusiasts
- No Digital Radio
One of the great things about modern cars is the ability to change the feel and personality of the vehicle to suit the personality (or budget) of the buyer.
For example, a base-model Golf feels entirely different to this performance-tuned version.
If you’re looking for a Golf and aren’t scared of the Golf R price tag then my recommendation would be to spend some time test-driving the vehicle – it might be a bit too much (i.e. the firm ride/exhaust note) for the average car buyer.
If you’re looking for sports car performance and feel however you most likely won’t be disappointed at all in this otherwise quite practical package.
Facts and Figures: 2018 Volkswagen Golf R
- Engine: 2.0 litre turbo-petrol producing 213kW/380Nm
- Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (no manual option in R wagon)
- Safety: Not tested
- Warranty: Three years
- Origin: Germany
- Price: from $57,990