What is it?
Volkswagen claims this is the sharpest-handling version of a deceptively quick, tremendously practical car that’s relatively affordable. It should therefore prove a desirable device indeed.
What we have here is the Mk7.5 Golf R Estate equipped with the Performance Pack. It’s an optional extra that costs £2300 and is already available on the hatchback. Included are 19in ‘Spielberg’ alloy wheels that replace the 18in ‘Cadiz’ items of the standard car and a new, lighter ‘R-Performance’ brake set-up with silver calipers, more on which in a moment. Aesthetically, there are no other changes, and the R remains a car whose performance is smuggly incongruous with its unimaginative design.
In terms of hardware, it’s also business as usual, VW’s flexible EA888 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine driving all four wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox (there has never been a manual option for the estate R) and a Haldex multi-plate clutch. Volkswagen's electronic 'differentials' are nothing of the sort and instead manage the transverse distribution of torque on each axle via the brakes.
As with the GTI, suspension is by MacPherson struts at the front axle and there’s a multi-link set-up at the rear. Our test car is fitted with £850 DCC adaptive dampers, which operate through four modes ranging from Comfort to Race, with an Individual setting in which their firmness – along with parameters for the steering weight, engine response and so on – can be selected to taste.