The premise is so simple there has to be a catch. A mid-engined V8 supercar from a highly respected premium brand for the same money as a new hot hatchback. Or less.
But that’s what you’re looking at right here. The Audi R8 you can see belongs to Dick Powell, founder of renowned design business Seymourpowell, and we’ve insured it for £40,000 to reflect its condition and low mileage. But clean examples are out there for £30,000 or less once you’ve done a spot of haggling. Meanwhile this five-door Volkswagen Golf R retails for £33,740 with the dual-clutch automatic gearbox fitted to the test car, although if you play fast and loose with the options, as VW most certainly has with this one, that price heads north pretty rapidly. As seen here with its titanium exhausts, this car, a Volkswagen Golf, remember, is just £325 shy of being a fifty grand car…
But on the drive over the Golf R reaffirmed why, to me at least, it remains the pick of the super-hot hatch brigade – so much easier to operate than the Honda Civic Type R, far easier on the eye yet scarcely less engaging on a decent run. It will be very interesting to see what the full-fat Trophy version of the Renault Sport Mégane is like when it arrives in the new year.
For now though, I’m being blown away all over again, not just by the Golf’s relentless point-to-point pace, brought about by an unrivalled blend of power and all-weather poise in the class, but also by the tranquillity that accompanies it. Maybe the interior should be a bit more exciting, maybe the exterior looks too much like a normal Golf with a big wheel upgrade, but I’m not sure I care: in all situations it works better than you could hope, as all the best fast Golfs have done for more than 40 years.
I’m not alone in considering the Golf the best of its kind, either. Powell has one as his daily driver (“you could have used mine if I’d known”) and bows to no one in his admiration for it.