Volkswagen Golf R hatchback (2010-2012)

"Faster and greener than the VW Golf R32, the four-wheel drive Volkswagen Golf R is a seriously quick car"

Carbuyer Rating

2.8 out of 5

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Owners Rating

5.0 out of 5

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Pros

  • Grippy four-wheel drive
  • Relatively fuel efficient
  • Top-notch quality

Cons

  • High list price
  • Not as sporty as some rivals
  • Firm ride

Replacing the celebrated VW Golf R32, the Volkswagen Golf R boasts four-wheel drive and a tweaked version of the old VW Golf GTI's turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine. Two versions are available, the sporty three-door and practical five-door - meaning there is a Golf R for everyone. The powerful engine produces 265bhp, allowing the fastest Golf ever to do 0-62mph in just 5.7 seconds. Crucially the engine is cleaner and greener than it's VW Golf R32 predecessor and the 4MOTION four-wheel drive system is very impressive in the corners. The VW Golf R represents a more practical choice than the Volkswagen Scirocco R but with the performance to match rivals from Renault or BMW. What's more, a new Volkswagen Golf R (based on the VW Golf Mk7) is on the way – with just under 300bhp.

MPG, running costs & CO2

Surprisingly affordable to run for such a performance-focused model

For a performance model, economy and emissions are impressive, dropping from 257g/km for the old VW Golf R32 to 199g/km for the lighter VW Golf R. Fuel economy is up around 4mpg to 33.2mpg for the manual gearbox, while fitting the optional DSG automatic transmission bumps this figure up to 33.6mpg. The new version – due in 2014 – will be more economical still, with emissions as low as 159g/km.

Engines, drive & performance

Four-wheel drive system provides impressive grip in all weather

Under the bonnet of the VW Golf R, there’s a highly tuned version of the engine from the old VW Golf GTI. This results in an impressive 265bhp, while the 4MOTION four-wheel drive system provides plenty of grip whilst cornering. The steering isn't too light, while the brakes feel very powerful. Opt for the twin-clutch DSG gearbox and some of the gear changes are a bit erratic when using the fully automatic 'D' mode. However, a motorway speeds the car feels relaxed and can cover long distances in surprising comfort. A new VW Golf R is on the way, though, with almost 300bhp and a 0-62mph time of less than five seconds.

Interior & comfort

Firm but not uncomfortable, with the same user-friendly interior

Running on stiffer and lower suspension, the Golf R is firm but not uncomfortable. With specially tuned power-steering, the R has a sharper and more direct feel than the lower priced VW Golf GTI, too. The seats are firm and supportive and the driving position is easily adjusted to suit all shapes and sizes – meaning nearly everyone can get comfortable. It gets the same chunky, easy to operate controls as the standard VW Golf, making it an impressively comfortable car to cover long distances in.

Practicality & boot space

The Golf is a practical hatchback - even in R specification

Based on the standard VW Golf, the interior will seat four adults in relative comfort – while the figure hugging front seats are supportive and well-bolstered. The rear seats are good too, though the three-door offers reduced practicality, as you'd expect. The is exactly the same size as the standard Golf Mk6 hathcback, which is impressively large such a fast car.

Reliability & safety

Beautifully made and very reliable

Like the previous generation Volkswagen Golf, the R has a full five-star Euro NCAP test rating, while maintaining a solid 16th position in the 2013 Auto Express Driver Power survey, with strong marks for ride quality and handling. Obviously the VW Golf R is a totally different kettle of fish, but it still gets the same solid interior, with plenty of tried and tested mechanical parts. A new model is on its way in 2014, and we expect it to continue VW's solid reliability record.

Price, value for money & options

VWs hold their value well, and the R is no exception

The VW Golf R is incredibly expensive for a hatchback but does offer serious performance for the money. It’s fitted with new front and rear bumpers complete with LED running lights, while Xenon headlights and a new black grille add to the sporty look. The changes continue inside with a set of distinctive aluminium ‘R’ badges and new seats finished in grey Alcantara. Thanks to the standard Golf's desirability in comparison to its mainstream rivals, you’ll also get more for it when you sell it on. The optional Adaptive Chassis Control is an expensive extra, but well worth the extra cash.

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