Exterior & Interior
The all new Golf R has finally been revealed. The exterior of the Mk8 Golf has not been the most well received design thus far and I think we can all see why. It is still mostly angular and an evolution of the Mk7’s design, but the overall design has taken on quite a bit of ‘droop’. It is like the Mk7’s design has aged and went all saggy.
The headlight area in particular stands out for being droopier than the previous generation Golf. There are addenda up front specific to the R that makes it look sportier, but successful or not is debatable.
For one there’s a ‘motorsport styled’ front splitter and an illuminated blue LED strip running across the grille giving it a unique look at night. There is also a 20mm drop in ride height. At the back there’s a black diffuser (probably fake with no added downforce) and quad tailpipes that aren’t fake. Thank you Volkswagen.
And as an optional extra, a titanium exhaust made by specialist Akrapovic is available for order. It shaves 7kg and comes with valves so that you can alter the volume of your exhaust. Great for those returning home in the dead of the night and not wanting to wake up the whole village.
The interior has not seen much changes just like the exterior, which is typical of VW. Everything is clearly laid out and ergonomics are fine. Quality does seem to have taken a step back in some areas, especially the lower reaches of the dashboard. This is most likely due to the Dieselgate scandal and VW had to cut cost in some areas.
You do get sports seats with blue inserts and ‘R’ embroidered onto the seatback, a steering wheel with blue stitching and inserts, stainless steel pedals, and R-specific menu in the infotainment system.
All these add up to a very subtle upgrade over the looks of the standard Golf. This is expected as VW has always been about restraint in their design language. It works well if you’re looking for subtlety, but if you want all your friends and neighbours to know what you are driving, I’m afraid they will all just think it’s a regular Golf.
Power comes from the ubiquitous EA888 Evo4 engine that produces 320hp (20hp more than previously) and 420Nm of torque that’s available from 2,100rpm all the way to 5,350rpm, giving it a very flat torque curve, ensuring strong mid range punch.
All these extra firepower adds up to improved acceleration times. The new R is now capable of 0-100km/h in 4.7secs, 0.2secs faster than before. Top speed is limited to 250km/h, though if you pay extra for the R Performance package, they will remove the limiter and it will go all the way to 270km/h.
Volkswagen has made significant changes to the 4MOTION system in the R. It is the same torque-vectoring system in the new Arteon R and Tiguan R, which allows the system to send 100% of the available torque at the rear axle to either one of the rear wheels which has the most grip. This greatly improves agility and responsiveness and enables a new function called ‘Drift’ mode. I mean, it’s 2020 right? Everybody has got a drift mode in their high performance cars, so it’s about time.
The Golf R has been developed with the Nürburgring Nordschleife in mind and it even comes with an extra drive mode called ‘Special’ which configures all the parameters of the car, especially the 4MOTION system, to suit the track. All these enable the new R to lap the Nordschleife up to 19 seconds faster than its predecessor.
Other mechanical changes include negative camber on the front axle increased by up to 1.3 degrees, and also stiffer anti-roll bars and 10% higher spring rates. The steering has also been modified to give it a more direct response.
Some 1.2kg of unsprung mass has also been removed from the braking system, while the front aluminium subframe has also been on a diet and lost 3kg. The front disc brakes are now 17mm larger in diameter and comes with blue brake calipers and an upgraded master cylinder for improved stopping performance.
Sadly, an option for a manual gearbox is out of the question and the R will come equipped with the 7-speed DSG gearbox only.
One thing worthy of note, the EA888 engine usually has a lower state of tune when sold in countries with hot climates like Singapore. Expect to lose about 10hp when the new R lands in Singapore. Though I’m sure most people who buy the Golf R will send their cars in for an ECU remap to unleash even more power.
The current Mk7 Golf R is currently retailing for about $217,000, expect to see a slight increase in prices when this new Mk8 model arrives. It will possibly go for around $225,000. Sounds like a lot of money for a Golf, but it is in line with the prices of the A35/CLA35 AMG but cheaper than its stablemate, the Audi S3.
Ultimately, this is a very capable hot hatch with subtle looks that lets you fly under the radar if that’s your sort of thing. But no matter what it will never be as practical as a sedan. And speaking of a fast sedan, the Skoda Octavia RS245 is just lurking around the corner. It has more than decent enough performance and almost the same running gears. Yes it may lose out on power by almost 65hp, but the Golf R will not be able to beat its practicality and its price of just $140,000. So that’s another thing for you to think about when considering the R.