From the front, the new bumper differs from the normal Golf and the GTI. It’s more similar to the recently refreshed Arteon R and Tiguan R models, though this is to be expected. New 19-inch wheels, bigger brakes, lower suspension (20mm) and side skirts are on the list of profile differences. Silver mirror caps have been installed, reminding us of the legendary Golf R32.
Things get a bit spicier at the back, where the two-layer trunk diffuser and quad exhaust tips let you know this is the fast one. Optionally, Akrapovic exhaust can be installed, just like on the previous model.
The interior is familiar but new, like an old friend who went to programming school and is doing well. The twin screens from the normal Golf have been adapted with R-specific graphics. The steering wheel is different from the GTI, and so is the leather trim of the seats.
But you probably didn’t come here to read about blue accent lighting or contrast stitching. The new 2.0 TSI four-cylinder turbo engine is what’s important here. It’s the same one they put in the Arteon R models, rated at 315 hp (319 PS) and 310 lb-ft (420 Nm) of torque. If these numbers are kept for the U.S. market, it would mean an improvement of 27 hp and 30 lb-ft (41 Nm).
Just as before, the Golf R will be available with both a 6-speed manual and a DSG auto, the latter being able to hit 62 mph (100km/h) in 4.7 seconds. The really good news is that the AWD system is “smarter,” something we’ve seen previewed with the tail-happy Tiguan R.
Volkswagen’s latest system has torque vectoring, which should make the Golf R “noticeably more” agile. Besides the old drive modes (Comfort, Sport, Race, and Individual), the selection includes Race mode, developed at the Nurburgring, and Drift mode, which would make this the most interesting hot hatch in the 300 horsepower AWD class.