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Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

Volkswagen claimed a 0-62mph time of 5.1sec for the manual Golf R while it was on sale, while the quick-shifting dual-clutch auto model slices a further 0.5sec off the benchmark time to give a claimed headline acceleration figure of 4.6sec. As before, top speed is electronically limited to 155mph.

It was a streaming wet day at MIRA when we tested the DSG-equipped variant of the Golf R, but the natural advantage of four-wheel drive came to the fore during the acceleration runs. Even two up, full of fuel and in the wet, it was a 4.8sec 0-60mph car in our hands.

VW's electronic XDS+ system mimics the effect of a limited-slip differential

Look beyond that initial stat and it’s no less impressive. This car performs a standing quarter mile (13.4sec) almost a second faster than the second generation Ford Focus RS.

It’s quicker from 30-70mph through the gears, too (4.3sec versus 4.9sec), so you’re looking at an A-list hot hatchback with sweet gearshifts up or down from the DSG ’box.

What’s missing, compared with some big-league rivals – and, of course, Golf VR6/R32s up to and including the Mk5 – is the noise of a many-cylindered engine, so the Golf R again utilises a ‘soundaktor’ (sound actuator) for extra throatiness.

In short, it’s a hockey-puck-sized resonator that lives under the weather panel at the base of the windscreen, and it vibrates and resonates through the screen, making a noise – an artificial one, granted – akin to a bigger, throbbier engine.

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For an artificial set-up, it’s far from a bad one and most of our testers quite liked it. However, it’s the unofficial work of a few minutes to disable it, as some owners of Golf Mk6s are wont to do, which apparently reveals more of the turbo whoosh.

Despite the streaming conditions, we managed to work up the brakes to a smoke around our ‘dry’ circuit (where cornering force remained at over 0.9g), so we’d expect that you’d have to look after them on a track day. On the road, though, they’re excellent.