What is it?
Now in its eighth generation, the Volkswagen Golf remains the archetypal family hatchback.
And now that quite a few versions are already available to buy or have been announced in advance, clearly we’re headed for the same divide in the range we’ve seen many times before – the divide between regular models and more aggressively styled performance derivatives.
However, there exists a middle ground, and it’s one that has traditionally been popular with Golf buyers. That middle ground is R-Line trim, and it allows owners to get some (or actually quite a lot) of the sporty styling cues seen on models such as the GTI and upcoming R but affixed to more affordable and economical models further down the hierarchy.
It’s the best of both worlds, or a bit of a cheat, depending on how you see these things.
In the sub-GTI Golf world, R-Line sits as the uppermost of three trims levels, above Life and Style, and it’s recognisable by distinct front and rear bumpers with gloss inserts, as well as unique side skirts and false, trapezoidal exhausts outlets.
The actual substance you’re paying a few extra grand for is lowered sports suspension, 17in alloy wheels, variable-ratio steering and adjustable front sports seats trimmed in a nifty ‘art velours’ material.
As for engines, there is the same choice you get with the lesser trims, apart from the 108bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol that serves as the gatekeeper to entry-level Life, which is incompatible with R-Line.
You therefore have the option of Volkswagen's 129bhp 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol, which is carried over from the previous-generation Golf and paired with a manual gearbox. Or if you want the dual-clutch automatic, a 148bhp version with Volkswagen's efficiency-boosting 48V mild-hybrid technology, which is new for the Mk8 car. There’s also a 148bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel, which oddly is offered without mild-hybrid technology.