This is the Golf R, the most powerful and quickest variant of the firm’s hatchback ever to reach production. It was officially launched today at the Frankfurt motor show.
With 266bhp, 236lb ft of torque and a new hydraulic four-wheel drive system, the Golf R can go from 0-62mph in 5.7sec, or 5.5sec if equipped with VW’s DSG dual-clutch transmission. Its top speed is electronically limited to 155mph.
Closely linked to the set-up used in Audi’s S3, the new four-wheel drive system is designed to react more quickly than the Haldex transmission from the previous-gen Golf R32, and up to 100 per cent of torque can be apportioned to the rear wheels. Four-wheel drive brings a weight penalty of around 80kg, but the latest R is still 35kg lighter than the R32, which used a 3.2-litre V6 and left many enthusiasts frustrated at its chassis dynamics. Power comes from a tuned version of Volkswagen’s 2.0-litre, four-cylinder EA113 engine, the unit used in the last-generation Golf GTI and the current Audi S3.
It receives a new head gasket, uprated pistons and conrods, and high-pressure injectors, as well as an upgraded turbocharger and a revised intercooler.
The Golf R’s output trumps that of the front-drive Scirocco R, but VW sees no clash. “The Golf is our top-of-the-line product,” said Jakob Kaehler, product affairs manager of the Individual division that develops R models. “But for us it’s not a question of the power difference between the cars; it’s more about the choice between a sports coupe - the Scirocco - and the classic form of the Golf.”
VW is claiming that despite the increased power over the old R32, the new car also offers greater efficiency. Combined fuel economy is 33.2mpg (versus 26.4mpg) and CO2 emmisions are 199g/km instead of 225g/km.
“Up to 21 per cent better fuel economy is quite a step forward,” said Kaehler. “We think that this four-cylinder powerplant is an adequate successor to the six-cylinder R32.”
In chassis terms, the R gets uprated and lowered suspension (by 25mm), a modified ESP programme with two additional settings for track use, and more responsive steering.
Visually the R gets new front and rear bumpers, LED running lights, a gloss black rear diffuser, central exhausts, sill extensions, xenon headlights and unique tail-lights. The cabin finish includes Alcantara seats, gloss black highlights and blue instrument needles. But the overall enhancement over a regular GTI has been kept subtle.
The Golf R is being pitched as an even more extreme car than the high-performance Scirocco R.
“The sport chassis setting on the regular Scirocco was like the normal setting on the Scirocco R,” said Kaehler. “Sport on the Scirocco R took it a step further. But on the Golf R it will be further still. The chassis control has been set up after tests on the Nürburgring with [double Le Mans winner] Hans Stuck.”
VW has modest sales targets for the Golf R — it hopes to sell a combined total of 500 three and five-door examples per year in the UK — and the price will reflect that.
Expect it to cost from £28,500 when it goes on sale in October, with deliveries starting in January.