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Volkswagen Golf R review – performance and 0-60 time

Flagship 316bhp figure makes the Golf R about as quick as VAG hatchbacks get, Audi RS3 aside

Evo rating
  • Engine still pulls; erm, strong resale?
  • Every dynamic element feels like it’s taken a step or two backwards

In all rational sense the Golf R is a quick car, but it does feel somewhat blunted by its 1553kg kerb weight, which is over 100kg more than the larger, but admittedly front-wheel-drive Honda Civic Type R. When we put it on our scales, the Golf R 20 Years actually sat underneath the quoted weight at 1529kg, but for a four-cylinder hot hatchback it’s still a big enough figure to cause some problems.

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Thanks to the heady combination of a high-torque turbocharged engine, 4Motion all-wheel drive and a dual-clutch transmission, the Golf R will get to 62mph from rest in 4.7sec. The 20 Years car reduces this down a further tenth to 4.6sec – a number that borders on being genuinely rapid.

In-gear performance is impressive, but get on the throttle when in a high gear and it can feel like an age until the turbo’s full potency is delivered. This sluggish feeling is typical of lots of modern performance cars that have been tuned to stay out of the powerband as much as possible to keep MPG, and therefore CO2, as low as possible.

This can be remedied by selecting one of the Golf’s more dynamic driver modes that keeps the engine on the boil more willingly. The 20 Years model has a similar problem, but seems to hit even harder at the top of the rev band to compensate.

The ability to decouple the transmission mode from the engine mode is also a big plus, and if you do decide to take over there is a new set of paddles behind the steering wheel to give you control. It’s one of the few, but much appreciated, improvements the Mk8 has introduced.

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