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New 316bhp Volkswagen Golf R on sale from £39,270

Mk8 edition of the Volkswagen Golf R is on sale now, and out-muscles its closest rivals with 316bhp and 420Nm

The new Mk8 Volkswagen Golf R is on sale now. Prices for the new model - which becomes the fastest accelerating Volkswagen on sale with a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds - start from £39,270.

The new Volkswagen Golf R squares to a host of 300bhp four-wheel drive hot hatches, including the BMW M135i, the Mercedes-AMG A 35 and the Audi S3. The latest iteration of the Golf R, however, is the most powerful of all.

Under the bonnet sits a revised version of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine used by the previous R. The changes to the EA888 evo4 unit unlock an extra 20bhp and 20Nm of torque – taking the hatchback’s output to 316bhp and 420Nm of torque.

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The engine sends power to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox – which, along with the performance hike, enables both that 0–62mph time and an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.

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.

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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.

Further focus can be added with the optional R-Performance pack. The pack itself costs £2,000, and adds 19-inch ‘Estoril’ alloy wheels, an uprated rear spoiler that produces more downforce, and a speed limiter increase to 168mph. It also adds a couple of new driving modes: Drift and Special. Drift mode eases off the traction control and send most of the engine’s power to the rear axle, allowing the hot hatchback to perform powerslides. Special, meanwhile, is a setup tailored to the Nürburgring Nordschleife, adjusting the damping response, steering and throttle maps and differential settings for the most effective performance around the gruelling 12.9-mile circuit.

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.

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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 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.

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

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Chief reviewer

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

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