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New 316BHP Volkswagen Golf R

Flagship Golf is also lighter and even more focused; gains new Drift mode

The eighth-generation Golf R is the fastest and most powerful version of VW’s family hatchback yet, and will be available to enjoy this month when it arrives in dealerships, the Golf R is the fifth member of the brand’s significantly expanded R performance line-up using the same 316bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine as seen in the new Arteon and Tiguan R models with 310lb ft.


The top spec Golf utilises the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that has been present in the R-badged Golf since 2009.

With slight power and torque boosts, the Golf R’s 0-62mph sprint time is down by 0.2sec to 4.7sec, Volkswagen also claims peak torque is available from 2100rpm all the way through to 5350rpm.

The attention hasn’t been just on improving out-and-out performance though, there has been a succession of tweaks to the drivetrain, which is aimed at improving agility and responsiveness. The Golf R also receives the same upgraded version of Volkswagen’s torque-vectoring system as fitted to the R versions of the Arteon and Tiguan, which means drive is not just distributed between front and rear axle but now variably between the rear wheels for the first time, by using a pair of electronically operated multi-disc clutches, the system is said to balance output across the axle from 0-100% within milliseconds.


 Other upgrades to the new R include the camber on the front axle which has been upped by 1.3deg, the stabiliser and spring rates have been raised by 10% and the steering software has been tweaked for a more direct turn-in response.

1.2kg of excess weight has been trimmed from the braking system, and a further 3kg has been saved from the front aluminium subframe. The brake discs are beefed up by 17mm in diameter on the front axle for improved stopping power and an uprated master cylinder.

On the exterior the Golf R is noticeably lower, a drop of 20mm on the suspension, “motorsport-style” front splitter, significant black rear diffuser, quad-exit exhaust system, which can be specked with an Akrapovic titanium performance exhaust system, weighing 7kg less than the standard system and bringing valve control so that the driver can adjust the exhaust volume.

Bespoke wheel designs, Blue brake callipers and a new illuminating blue strip across the grille round off the exterior upgrades.

On the inside, the improvements include sports seats with blue inserts, a new sports steering wheel with a mounted ‘R’ button to select driving modes, stainless-steel pedals and a collection of R-specific displays for the touchscreen infotainment system. One of which is ‘R-view’, that displays a horizontall rev counter and gives gearchange advices when the car is driven in manual mode.


 There is an optional R Performance upgrade package, which removes the 155mph limiter for a top speed of 168mph, gaining a larger rear spoiler for added downforce and a set of 19in sports wheels as standard.

This pack also contains two added driving modes: Special, which has been configured especially for peak performance at the Nürburgring and Drift, which Volkswagen say “opens up a whole new level of driving dynamics away from public roads and makes the experience behind the wheel even more fun”.

 Volkswagen Golf R 2020 official reveal - studio side

Driving modes are selected using the R button, which when pressed hard puts the car into Race mode. Volkswagen only has plans for the greater demanded DSG gearbox, which it said gives “the best of both worlds” and is equipped with a manual shift function through paddles on the wheel.

No word on prices yet, but expect between the £35,000 to £40,000 mark.

Volkswagen Golf R 2020 official reveal - hangar static