New 2020 Volkswagen Golf R arrives with drift mode

New Volkswagen Golf R hot hatch has been revealed with 316bhp and an array of new technology

  • Revised 2.0-litre petrol engine produces 316bhp
  • Four-wheel drive as standard, capable of 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds
  • New R-Performance pack adds drift mode

The new 2020 Volkswagen Golf R has finally been revealed. It now has 316bhp, a tweaked four-wheel-drive system and a new R-Performance package with special driving modes, including a ‘Drift’ setting.

The car will go on sale in 2021 and compete with performance hatchbacks that include the BMW M135i, Mercedes-AMG A 35 and the recently revised Honda Civic Type R.

When it arrives, the latest Golf R will be the flagship model in the Mk8 Golf range. There are other performance models, namely the standard GTI, the GTI Clubsport, the diesel GTD and the plug-in hybrid GTE variants, but the R is the most powerful of them all.

2020 Volkswagen Golf R: engine, performance and chassis

Under the bonnet, the new Golf R features an updated version of the same ‘EA888’ turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine used in the previous generation model. This time it has an extra 20bhp, for a total of 316bhp. Power goes to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox.

Performance is similar to the old car, with 0-62mph taking 4.7 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. This limiter can be raised to 168mph as part of the optional R-Performance pack.

The car features a wealth of advanced technology, all with the aim of making the new R as fast as possible around a track. These include a revised traction control system, a new two-stage stability control system, and torque vectoring that’s capable of directing the engine’s power between the front and rear axles, or to a single rear wheel if required.

A total of six selectable driving modes also feature, including Comfort, Sport, Race and Individual, and a new ‘Special’ mode that has been specifically setup for the Nurburgring circuit. According to VW, this setting optimises the car’s suspension and chassis to ensure maximum performance on the legendary German track.

The sixth setting is called ‘Drift’ and allows the driver to perform tyre-smoking powerslides by reconfiguring the car’s traction control system to send more power to the rear wheels.

Other upgrades over the standard Mk8 Golf hatchback include a set of upgraded front brakes and a revised power steering system. It also sits 20mm lower than standard, which gives it a lower centre of gravity and helps to improve handling.

Styling and design

The latest Golf R features subtle styling revisions over the standard car, with a unique set of 18-inch alloy wheels, a sportier looking bodykit, and a smattering of ‘R’ badges dotted around the bodywork. It also sits lower than a normal Golf as well.

At the back is where the new Golf R really stands out, with a pair of twin exhaust pipes, a rear diffuser and a rear spoiler. Buyers can tweak the styling and performance of the R even further still with a larger two-piece rear spoiler that increases downforce, a lighter Akrapovic exhaust system and larger 19-inch alloy wheels.

Interior and technology

The interior features a pair of bolstered sports seats emblazoned with blue ‘R’ logos in the headrests, blue trim inserts and matching stitching. There is also a new flat-bottomed steering wheel with blue trim, larger gearshift paddles and customisable ambient interior lighting. A set of brushed stainless steel pedals and a matching footrest also feature.

The twin-screen dashboard setup from the standard Golf, including a 10-inch infotainment touchscreen and digital dial cluster, has been carried over but given the R colour scheme. Switchable dial setups also feature, along with touch-sensitive controls for the climate control and stereo volume.

Like the standard Golf, the new R will be the first generation to be permanently online, plus it’ll feature tech like Car2X (this communicates with other cars to give real-time information on things like vacant parking spaces and traffic flow), Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant and smartphone mirroring.

Boot space and practicality

VW has yet to confirm the boot size for the new Golf R, but we’d expect it to be reduced from the 381-litre capacity of the standard car due to the four-wheel-drive system.

2020 Volkswagen Golf R estate

While the reveal of the new Golf R was limited to the hatchback model, a more practical R estate model is expected to be unveiled towards the end of the year. It is currently in testing, with a recent prototype spotted testing in disguise as the forthcoming Golf Alltrack, with details such as the four exhaust pipes and big alloy wheels giving away that it’s the hot R version.

It’ll use the same 316bhp petrol engine as the hatchback model, with the same seven-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel-drive system, but the extra bodywork will probably mean the R estate will be slightly slower. It

Price, specifications and release date

First deliveries of the new Golf R are due to start in early 2021. Volkswagen has not yet confirmed UK prices or specifications, but given the amount of new tech, we expect the car to start from around £37,000.

See where the outgoing Golf R lands on our lists of the fastest hot hatchbacks on sale now and the best used hot hatchbacks.

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