Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Golf R was how quickly it began appearing on the roads in serious numbers following its launch in 2014. Of course, the cheapest version, the three-door manual, cost only around £4000 more than the cheapest GTI (£30,000 compared with £26,000) and, remember, this is the age of the PCP when such differences translate to only a few extra pounds on the monthly payment. But VW was also pushing the new model hard with incentives.
The result is that today, used Golf Rs are almost as plentiful as used GTIs, with prices starting at around £11,000 for a high-miler. However, from £14,500 is where solid 14-reg cars with 50,000 miles begin.
There are manuals and threedoors in the mix but the vast majority are five-door automatics (sevenspeed DSG). Owing to its relative scarcity and particular appeal, the three-door is, like for like, more expensive than the five-door, but a cast-iron service history and unblemished condition are essential.
Supply-wise, auto and manual versions of the three-door are split 50/50 whereas, unsurprisingly given its broader reach, five-door Rs are predominantly automatic. If you’re tempted by the three-door’s sportier looks, be aware that access to the back seats is, naturally, trickier – a fact that, over time, may come to bother you more than it does now.
Colour is critical. It’s subjective but many think the R looks best in blue, which, happily, is the most plentiful colour. On later cars, Turmeric Yellow (it looks like gold) divides opinion and is rare but worth considering if you’ve an eye on future resale. Black and white are safe as houses and play to the R’s Q-car character.
With so many used Rs to choose from, the right options help a car to stand out. Among the more desirable ones is Adaptive Chassis Control (ACC), which offers Comfort, Normal and Race modes. Despite its name, Comfort still feels quite brittle but that’s the price you pay for the R’s sharp responses.