Here it is, finally – The all-new Volkswagen Golf R. Based on the the eight-generation Volkswagen Golf (Mk 8), the Golf R will be the most powerful of them all (in the regular line-up), sitting above the Golf GTI which was unveiled back in February.

The Golf R Mk 8 is powered by an uprated EA888 evo4 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder, generating 320 hp and 420 Nm of torque – an increase of about 20 hp and 20 Nm of torque from the outgoing model (in performance pack form). However, the detail that got us the most excited is the inclusion of a six-speed manual transmission as standard!

All-wheel drive – a hallmark feature of the R – is featured here once again, but the 4Motion system now gets a new torque vectoring differential on the rear axle to further divide the power at each wheels depending on traction. Volkswagen notes that the Golf R is now able to send 100% of its power to the outer rear wheels during cornering to alleviate understeer, helping the car slingshot out of the bend.

In terms of performance, the Volkswagen Golf R Mk8 does 0-100 km/h in 4.7 seconds – 0.2 seconds quicker than the outgoing model. Buyers opting for the seven-speed DSG model will probably do it a hair quicker, but if it’s us, we’ll be too happy rowing our own gears to care. Top speed remains capped at 250 km/h.

Managing the 4Motion AWD system and adaptive dampers is the improved Vehicle Dynamics Manager, which now comes with six driving modes – Comfort, Sport, Race, Individual, Special and Drift. The first four in the list is fairly straightforward and are nothing that we haven’t come about before; Special mode sets up the car specifically for the iconic Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit – like the new GTI Clubsport – where the car underwent final tuning, while the drift mode, well, lets you drift.

Other performance upgrades on the all-new VW Golf R include a reworked suspension and anti-roll bars set-up with firmer spring rates, bigger brakes (18 mm larger than before), and a 20 mm lowered ride height compared to the normal Golf 8 models.

Just like its predecessors, the all-new Golf R features a pretty understated exterior design that doesn’t exactly shout “fast”, making it the perfect everyday commute “sleeper”. There are of course some giveaways, such as the signature quad tailpipes, prominent rear diffusers, and an additional roof spoiler, but most people probably won’t notice until they look closer, given how common it is for modified Golfs.

Other exterior stylistic changes include a R-specific front fascia with reworked grilles and a “motorsports-inspired” splitter, side skirts, matte chrome side wing mirrors, and 19-inch aluminium-alloy wheels. The front also gets a new blue trim across the front end through the upper grille, which lights up when powered – joining the two headlights together, seemingly connected by the daytime-running lights.

Inside, R-specific changes are even more limited, with the only identifying features being the Nappa leather seats with R logos on the backrest, as well as a sports steering wheel with a dedicated R button to cycle through the various drive modes. Otherwise, the all-new Volkswagen Golf R looks just like any other golf – which, thanks to its gratituous use of screens and touch panels, can be a good or bad thing depending on who you ask.


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