New 2021 Volkswagen Golf R officially unveiled with 316bhp

The covers have finally been pulled off the new 316bhp Volkswagen Golf R hot hatchback

The new Mk8 Volkswagen Golf R has been officially unveiled. It occupies the top spot in the brand’s hot hatchback range – and will follow the recently launched GTI, GTD and GTE into the showrooms early next year.

When it reaches the UK market, the new Volkswagen Golf R will square-up to a broad range of competitors, including the BMW M135i, the Mercedes-AMG A 35 and the latest Honda Civic Type R.

Like its predecessor, the new Volkswagen Golf R is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. However, this latest iteration has been treated to a slightly more aggressive tune, which unlocks an extra 20bhp and 20Nm of torque – taking the hatchback’s output to 316bhp and 420Nm of torque.

The engine sends power to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox – which, along with the performance hike, Volkswagen says will give the new Golf R a 0–62mph of 4.7 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. However, buyers can choose to have this limiter raised to 168mph by speccing the firm’s optional R-Performance pack.

As with most hot Volkswagens, the Golf R’s chassis is loaded with clever technology that’s designed to improve on-track performance. Stand-out features include a two-stage electronic stability programme, a sophisticated traction control system and a new torque vectoring system which can not only distribute the engine’s power between the front and rear axles – but also between the two rear wheels.

The Golf R’s chassis comes with six driver profiles. Alongside the usual Comfort, Sport, Race and Individual modes there’s a new “Special” profile, which Volkswagen says was configured specifically for the Nurburgring. The setting softens the car’s dampers and adjusts the torque vectoring system, to allow the R to transmit the maximum amount of power to the surface of the undulating track.

However, the Golf R’s most interesting drivetrain setting is the new “Drift” mode, which Volkswagen says will ease off the traction control and send most of the engine’s power to the rear axle, to allow the hot hatchback to perform powerslides.

Volkswagen says all of these electrical and software improvements have made the new Golf R far more agile than the model it replaces – and, to make the tweaks as efficient as possible, they’re backed up by a series of beefy mechanical upgrades.

Physical chassis improvements include stiffer adaptive dampers, a new progressive power steering system, wider alloy wheels and enormous 18-inch disc brakes on the front axle, which replace the old car’s 17-inch units. The Golf R also rides 20mm closer to the ground than the standard hatchback, to lower its centre of gravity and improve its handling.

Cosmetic enhancements over the standard Mk8 Golf are fairly restrained, with the only revisions being a new set of 18-inch alloy wheels, a set of subdued “R” badges and a slightly more aggressive body kit with deeper side skirts.

The most noticeable styling changes that give this car away as the flagship version of the Golf are the quad-exit exhaust system and subtle new rear diffuser. However, for those who want to be a little more conspicuous, Volkswagen also offers an optional two-piece tailgate spoiler, larger 19-inch alloy wheels and a louder (and lighter) Akrapovic exhaust system.

Volkswagen’s revisions to the interior are a little more obvious. There’s a heavily bolstered pair of sports seats, stainless steel pedals, unique door cards and a new sports steering wheel, with a set of larger paddle shifters and the R brand’s trademark blue stitching. Buyers also get a customisable ambient lighting system and a smattering of “R” logos for the car’s seats and floor mats.

The Golf R shares the same 10-inch infotainment system and digital instrument cluster as the standard Mk8 Golf – although the system’s displays have all been reconfigured with unique blue-faced graphics. Drivers can even choose between two dashboard designs, centred around either a circular or horizontal rev-counter – and, when driving in manual mode, the dashboard will provide a visible shift prompt to remind the driver to change gear.

First deliveries are expected to arrive in early 2021. Volkswagen is yet to confirm any UK-specific prices or specifications, but given the amount of extra technology on board, we expect the R’s starting price will climb to around £37,000.

What do you make of the new Volkswagen Golf R? Let us know in the comments section below…

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