Used Volkswagen Golf R review

A full buyer’s guide on the Volkswagen Golf R covering the Golf R Mk7 (2014-date)

The Volkswagen Golf R is pretty much all you could ever want in a car. It’s blisteringly quick, very well made, has lots of kit and is very discreet. Thanks to its 2.0-litre engine, it can also be reasonably frugal, plus you get the security and efficiency of part-time four-wheel drive. That AWD system means the boot is slightly smaller than a regular Golf’s, but if load capacity is a priority there’s the Golf R Estate. Thanks to keen leasing deals new, supply of used Rs is plentiful; most came without any options. Despite this, we can’t think of a good reason not to buy a Golf R.

When a team of engineers from Volkswagen created a hot Golf Mk1 in their own time, the result was the Golf Sport concept, which made its debut at the 1975 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Volkswagen took a lot of convincing that there was a viable market for a hot hatch, but it put the Golf GTI into limited production, and was overwhelmed by the demand.

The GTI became something of an icon as it made its mark as a staple part of the Golf line-up, accounting for up to 10 per cent of sales. As the bar was raised ever higher, so the GTI got increasingly powerful.

Then, the even more performance-orientated Golf R32 was launched, and that was followed by the Golf R, which reached the milestone of breaching the 300bhp barrier for the first time.

Models covered

  • • Volkswagen Golf R Mk7 (2014-date) - Hottest Golf blends fine performance with impressive everyday versatility. 

Volkswagen Golf R Mk7

History

Whereas the original Golf GTI packed a 110bhp punch, the original four-wheel-drive Mk6 Golf R that arrived in February 2010 was rated at the much higher figure of 265bhp. The Mk7 Golf R featured here was launched in March 2014 with an even more potent and mouth-watering 296bhp.

The newcomer was available with three or five doors, and there was a choice of six-speed manual or DSG automatic gearboxes. Power came from a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. By July 2015 the R was also offered in a more practical Estate body style, with the same mechanical specification as the hatchback version.

An updated Golf R arrived in April 2016 with LED lights all round, digital dials, a new infotainment system, a 10bhp boost and a number of exterior design tweaks. 

Volkswagen Golf R Mk7 reviews

Volkswagen Golf R in-depth reviewVolkswagen Golf R reviewVolkswagen Golf R Performance Park reviewVolkswagen Golf R Estate review

Which one should I buy?

Most Golf Rs have five doors and a DSG automatic transmission; if you prefer a sportier look and don’t care too much about rear seat access, a three-door model might better suit your needs.

Both manual and auto boxes are great to use, so which one you go for is just a matter of personal preference. All Golf Rs come with sports suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels and xenon headlights.

A Performance Pack was also introduced in November 2017. Available only with the DSG transmission, it brought 19-inch alloys, stronger brakes and a 166mph top speed (168mph for the estate). There was a sporty rear spoiler for the hatchback, too. 

Alternatives to the Volkswagen Golf R Mk7

The Golf GTI and GTD offer many of the R’s features and benefits, but in packages that are cheaper to buy and run.

After the urgency of the Golf R, these might seem rather anaemic, though, which is why Audi’s 362bhp (later to be 395bhp) RS 3 might hold more appeal for those after a performance-focused experience. Yet while the RS 3 is beautifully built and well kitted out, it’s also costly to buy and run, with second-hand prices starting at £30,000.

These factors also apply to the 355bhp Mercedes-AMG A 45 which, as with the RS 3 and Golf R, comes with four-wheel drive.

Don’t overlook the 326bhp BMW M135i and its replacement (from May 2016), the 340bhp M140i, both of which are great fun with their rear-wheel-drive set-ups. 

What to look for 

Convertible

Volkswagen offered a Golf R Mk6 Cabriolet, but a very poor sales performance meant a Mk7 version never saw the light of day.

Gearbox

The Golf R hatchback came with a choice of either a manual or automatic transmission, but the Estate was offered in DSG auto form only. 

Noise

Some owners have been irritated by the issue of squeaky door rubbers. Applying some Gummi Pflege is the easiest solution to this problem. 

Alloys

The wheels on all Golf Rs can suffer from corrosion, while the 19-inch rims can also buckle if the car runs through too many potholes. 

Interior

There are no surprises inside the Golf R; it’s clearly laid out and very well made. As a result, this car’s cabin is an absolute breeze to live with. Facelifted models from April 2016 get a digital dashboard that looks much smarter than the previous set-up. Boot space stands at 340 to 1,233 litres – 37 litres less than in a front-wheel-drive Golf – but the Estate offers extra room for those who need it.

Prices

Running costs

Golf R owners can choose fixed or variable servicing. The former is set at 12 months or 10,000 miles; the latter allows up to two years and 18,000 miles between checks. Expect to pay £144 for an oil change, £232 for an intermediate service and £376 for a major inspection.

The pollen filter (£34) should be replaced at each service, and the oil in the four-wheel-drive system’s Haldex coupling should be changed every three years; budget £79 for this. There’s no cambelt to replace, but after every 40,000 miles the oil in a DSG transmission needs to be renewed. This job costs £199.

Recalls

The Golf Mk7 has been recalled five times. VW can’t say which specifically affects the Golf R, but put a registration or VIN into www.volkswagen.co.uk/owners/recallsSubmit and that will tell you if any safety-related work is needed.

Recalls have been issued for wheel bearing and lighting failures, faulty child locks on the rear doors and airbag problems, plus ESP and anti-lock braking glitches. 

Driver Power owner satisfaction

While the Golf R doesn’t get its own dedicated entry in our Driver Power satisfaction surveys, the ordinary Golf Mk7 performed strongly in this year’s new car poll, ranking in 18th place, and finished 14th in the used car survey. It scores well in every category, and although its lowest rating in both polls is for running costs, the Volkswagen still beats many rivals here.

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power
Vauxhall Astra render
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power

The new Vauxhall Astra will get a plug-in hybrid powertrain and a more premium image - here’s how it could look
17 Jun 2021
Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services
Tesla Model 3 police car - front
News

Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services

Tesla hopes to offer UK police forces a new zero-emission emergency responder option with the Model 3 police car
17 Jun 2021
Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police
police speed gun
News

Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police

Lack of road traffic police officers in the UK is making it easy for drivers to break the law, according to a survey of 15,500 British motorists
16 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron 2021  front
Audi Q4 e-tron

New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review

We get involved with the new all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron SUV on UK roads for the first time
17 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed
Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition
Ford Puma

Fan-designed Ford Puma ST Gold Edition revealed

Ford unveils a special edition Puma ST, with a black and gold colour scheme chosen by Ford fans over social media
18 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021
New 2021 Hyundai Tucson N-Line hybrid and PHEV on sale now
Hyundai Tuscon N Line - front
Hyundai Tucson

New 2021 Hyundai Tucson N-Line hybrid and PHEV on sale now

Hyundai names price for new Tucson N-Line hybrid duo with plug-in offering 38 miles of electric running
18 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
New Mercedes-AMG S 63 spied in minimal camouflage
Mercedes-AMG S 63
Mercedes S-Class

New Mercedes-AMG S 63 spied in minimal camouflage

AMG will soon launch a tuned version of Mercedes’s flagship limousine, probably powered by a 603bhp twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine
18 Jun 2021
Dacia unveils new badge design
Dacia badge
Dacia

Dacia unveils new badge design

The new Dacia branding will feature on the company’s cars from 2022, with the Bigster being the first candidate
17 Jun 2021
Porsche unveils next-generation PCM infotainment system with Android Auto 
Porsche Communication Management 6.0 911
Porsche

Porsche unveils next-generation PCM infotainment system with Android Auto 

Porsche’s sixth-generation touchscreen will be rolled out across the firm’s line-up, adding new connectivity features and natural voice control
17 Jun 2021