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VW Golf R Cabriolet

We get behind the wheel of the 261bhp Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet on UK roads for the first time

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

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This doesn’t feel like the sort of all-round performance car we’ve come to expect from Volkswagen’s R models. There are some encouraging signs, but it’s not quite quick enough or sharp enough to wear the badge. If you’re spending this kind of money on something sporty, get a Porsche Boxster.

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The Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet is the pinnacle of the soft-top line-up, and it’s available in dealers here in the UK for the first time.

The 261bhp 2.0-litre engine is the same as in the R hatchback, and it offers plenty of pace. The 0-62mph time of 6.4 seconds feels particularly brisk with the roof down, but even as you pile on the speed, you’ll find the standard wind deflector keeps buffeting to a minimum.

All that power can cause a few problems, though. Unlike the hatchback R, the Cabriolet doesn’t have four-wheel drive, so the wheels spin when you floor the throttle. When they do finally bite, you get a fair amount of torque steer.

Through corners it feels sure-footed enough, with plenty of grip from the fat tyres. There’s very little body roll, too, thanks to the stiff suspension, but the ride has suffered in the pursuit of sharper handling. The car thuds over ridges that a Golf would normally glide over.

The steering is sharp, but it feels too light for the amount of power on offer, and has a slightly artificial edge to it. As a result, the car doesn’t quite have the special touch you’d expect from one of VW’s more focused R models.

The biggest stumbling block, though, is the price. At £38,770, it’s around £7,000 more expensive than the R hatchback, but without the four-wheel drive, or the same kind of exhilarating and engaging driving experience.

So drivers wanting a hot Golf soft-top with some added pizzazz – and who can manage without the R extras, like the 19-inch alloys, gloss black grille, twin chrome exhaust pipes and so on – would be better off saving £8,000 and opting for the GTI instead.

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