Volkswagen Golf 7 R review (2013-2020) – engine and gearbox

Four cylinders, a turbocharger and a dual-clutch transmission. It's all-wheel drive too.

Evo rating
Price
from £31,685
  • Superb powertrain and agile, delicate and sophisticated handling
  • Lacks a final edge of feedback and adjustability

With the area of V6-engined Golfs a memory the R is, predictably, powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged engine. It’s a heavily ‘breathed on’ development of VW's familiar 'EA888' unit, as used in the Golf GTI for the past two generations. The modifications are pretty substantial and include a new cylinder head, new injectors, a larger turbo and different pistons.

Power is channelled to all four wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox or an optional six-speed DSG double-clutch automatic with steering wheel paddles and the latest iteration of VW’s 4Motion system, now boasting a fifth generation multi-plate clutch and upgraded suite of electronic aids.

Under normal use torque is biased to the front wheels, with drive transferred rearwards when slip is detected. Almost 100 per cent of torque can be sent to the back: but only if the front wheels have no grip. The system is claimed to react more quickly than before, and it will also send more power to the rear if it detects the front running wide.

evo has run a long-term Golf R for nearly a year now. Fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox rather than the optional DSG, it has proven an engaging, if not slightly troublesome spec choice. The gearbox has a slightly notchy shift and lumpy clutch, which can make pulling away in first gear difficult to do smoothly.

evo readers have actually reported similar clutch-related kangarooing with their own Golf Rs. Conversely, the DSG is extremely responsive but doesn't offer quite the level of interaction that the manual gearbox does. 

Most Popular

Audi RS3 2021 review - Audi Sport set to take on AMG’s A45S
Audi RS3 review 2021
Audi RS3

Audi RS3 2021 review - Audi Sport set to take on AMG’s A45S

Audi’s new RS3 hyper hatch finally gets the technology to take on AMG’s range-topper
22 Nov 2021
2023 Polestar 5 previewed – Precept Concept’s production-ready realisation is coming ​​
Polestar 5 preview 1
Polestar

2023 Polestar 5 previewed – Precept Concept’s production-ready realisation is coming ​​

This is the Polestar 5, rival to the Porsche Taycan, Audi e-tron GT and Tesla Model S
23 Nov 2021
Genesis G70 Shooting Brake priced from £35,250
G70 Shooting Brake
Genesis

Genesis G70 Shooting Brake priced from £35,250

Hyundai’s new premium brand is moving in on European stalwarts with its very stylish new estate
22 Nov 2021