It does a damn good job of it, too. Stick all the adaptive systems - which included the optional £815 dampers on our car - into all-out Race mode, and the estate turns in to corners with the sort of veracious precision that comes close to something of which Renaultsport would be proud, and sticks with dogged determination to your chosen line.
Even better, if you do find the R bleeding wide through a corner, the throttle is communicative enough and the back-end mobile enough that you can easily provoke some lift-off oversteer to get the nose tucked back in (or frankly, just to have a bit of fun if you want).
It's a joyous blend of forgiving playfulness that works on road or track, and which avoids the slightly dead-eyed, stoic immovability of some less entertaining rivals - including the Seat Leon Cupra ST.
Generally, the fact that the Golf R has grown an estate boot really doesn't seem to have made much of difference. There's even an element of enjoyable incongruousness to seeing a Golf estate - even one with quad exhausts and evidently meaningful styling - pull a four-wheel drift through the chicane at Ascari before hooning up the track with a wonderfully rude exhaust note on the upshift. I imagine it's how I'd feel if I saw my nan stick two fingers up at someone.
For all that handling vivaciousness, the Golf R estate is still as easy to drive and live with as any Golf. Despite having slightly stiffer springs at the rear to account for the extra weight (the only alteration to the suspension over the R hatch), the ride on our adaptive-sprung car felt very similar to that of the hatch.
You do get slightly more unforgiving compression and bump-absorption over potholes and the like than you would in a softer version, but it's never tiresome or uncomfortable, and there's unlikely ever to be a moment when you wish you hadn't gone for the R in favour of a more 'everyday' model. You want to get home without fuss? You can do just that.
The only thing that might frustrate some buyers is the lack of a manual gearbox option. The six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox is great in general and mostly spot-on with its responses if you use the paddles, but it can sometimes be a bit slow to respond - especially if you've got the stop-start in action.
There are moments when you want it to change up and it doesn't, so you go for a paddle-pull and the next thing you know you've jumped two ratios unintentionally. It's annoying, if a minor niggle, and the vast majority of Golf R hatch buyers in the UK have gone for the auto despite having a manual available, so it's hardly surprising that VW didn't bother on the estate.
The cabin is identical to that of the Golf R hatch, so you get chunky sports seats which hold you in place, a fairly comprehensive multimedia system (albeit one that doesn't get sat-nav as standard, which seems fairly out of order at this price), some tasteful blue 'R' lighting and badging, and plenty of room for those in the front and back.
Of course, the boot is way more practical. Not only is it much bigger but you also get some neat standard touches including a variable-height boot floor, while the fact that folding the rear seats leaves an uninterrupted, 1.8-metre loadbay means the boot should be up for fairly industrial use.
It's a boot that's actually verging on the same space and usability as that of a Skoda Octavia estate, so you can be sure that this ticks the 'practicality' box.