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Volkswagen Golf R (2021 – present) | Expert Rating


The flagship of the eighth-generation (Mk8) Volkswagen Golf range, the Golf R is a five-door hot hatch and estate model.

Sitting above the standard Golf line-up and the performance Golf GTI model, the all-wheel drive Golf R sits at the top of the range – powered by a 315hp 2.0-liter turbocharged petrol engine paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. This is over 70hp more than front-wheel drive alternatives like the Golf GTI and Hyundai i30 N, but this added power and grip comes at a price.

“It is a pricey machine these days”, self-express comments, alluding to the Golf R’s price tag that surpasses the £40k mark. Coach recommends the Honda Civic Type R as it costs significantly less, and because it is more involving and adjustable on the road. WhatCar? offers up the Toyota GR Yaris instead for the same reasons.

Many reviews also criticize the confusing and rather annoying layout of the Golf R’s touchscreen controls, and often comment that, while there is nothing explicitly wrong with the car’s interior, it does not match the quality of the premium-badged rivals that it is priced against. .

Though not as refined inside, the Golf R is slightly roomier than the likes of the Audi S3 and BMW M135i, and comes with a generous list of safety equipment and other on-board tech as standard – including launch control.

A model that divides opinion, the Sunday Times says that the Golf R would be “a deeply frustrating car to live with every day”, while topgear describes it as “the supreme hot hatch all-rounder – no sharp edges, and more rewarding than you might expect.”

As of June 2022, the Volkswagen Golf R holds an Expert Rating of 74%, based on 14 reviews published by UK media sources. This score is a couple of points lower than both the standard Golf model and the Golf GTI.

Golf R highlights

  • Fastest Golf you can buy
  • Comfortable cabin
  • More practical than some key rivals
  • Plenty of safety kit as standard

Golf R lowlights

  • Interior is nothing special
  • Confusing infotainment
  • Expensive to buy and run
  • Not as entertaining as best hot hatches

Key specifications

body style: medium hatchback
From £42,190 on-road

launched: Spring 2021
Last updated: Spring 2021
Replacement due: TBA