Best cars & vans

Volkswagen Golf R - best performance cars

The four-wheel-drive VW Golf R is almost as fast off the line as the Ford Focus RS, but the two cars’ characters couldn’t be more different

VW Golf R

The four-wheel-drive VW Golf R is almost as fast off the line as the Ford Focus RS, but the two cars’ characters couldn’t be more different.

While the Focus RS is ostentatious and rumbustious, the Golf R is understated to the point of near invisibility. Until one goes past you at warp speed, that is.

When (if) you’ve caught up again, closer inspection reveals LED rear light clusters and quad exhaust pipes, as well as wider side sills and unique bumpers – and there’s even a discreet chrome strip in the grille.

But it’s that Q-car invisibility that helps to make the Golf R so much fun. Combined with the 296bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder powerhouse under the bonnet, of course, which has a purposeful growl when revved.

That’s almost 60bhp more than the quickest Performance Pack-equipped Golf GTI, and it’s enough to catapult the Golf R from 0 to 62mph in a tenth less than five seconds if you have the optional DSG automated gearbox. It’s 5.1 seconds with the manual gearbox, and in both cases traction off the line is helped by the car’s standard 4MOTION all-wheel-drive, which just digs in when front-wheel drive cars would be floundering.

Advertisement - Article continues below

On the road, the Golf R is similar to a GTI in offering crisp turn-in, good body composure and a comfortable ride. If you really want to travel under the radar, you also buy the Golf R in estate car spec – but the extra weight knocks the 0-62mph time back to 5.9 seconds.

Top 10 best performance cars on sale now

  1. 1. Ford Focus RS
  2. 2. Mercedes AMG C63
  3. 3. BMW M2
  4. 4. Volkswagen Golf R
  5. 5. BMW M3
  6. 6. Lexus GS F
  7. 7. Audi RS3 Sportback
  8. 8. Mercedes AMG CLA 45
  9. 9. Vauxhall VXR8
  10. 10. Subaru WRX STi


Mountune VW Golf R - front tracking
Volkswagen Golf R

New Volkswagen Golf R Mountune M52 2019 review

Mountune have extracted another level of performance out of the Volkswagen Golf R, but are the upgrades worth it?
18 Aug 2019
Volkswagen Golf R 2017 corner
Volkswagen Golf R

Volkswagen Golf R review

When a regular Golf GTI isn’t sufficiently extreme, the VW Golf R steps up to the mark
25 Jul 2019

Most Popular

Bentley Continental GT

Bentley’s built a horse-themed Continental GT Convertible

The bespoke Continental GT Convertible Equestrian Edition features tweed door panels, a walnut dash and gold “horse and rider” emblems
9 Mar 2020

Most Wanted Cars 2020: poll

Decide which classic car you would most want to see brought back from the dead by an all new model
27 Mar 2020
Porsche Taycan

New Porsche Taycan 2020 review

Electric Porsche Taycan sports car delivers the goods as we try out in the UK for first time
27 Mar 2020