2021 VW Golf R: Eigth-generation performance model revealed

Volkswagen’s new Golf R promises to be a cracker.

Based on the eighth-generation Golf arriving locally around April 2021, the new Golf R promises to put more distance between the range-topping hatchback and its less powerful GTI cousin.

Like all new members of its family, the new Golf R comes with a digital dash, capacitive touch controls in lieu of conventional dashboard buttons and a dinky little switch replacing the conventional gear shifter of existing models.

Expect it to be quieter, more comfortable and easier to live with than the outgoing model, thanks in part to updated driver aids including traffic jam assistance capable of steering, stopping and accelerating for you when peak hour snarls strike.

But you could say that about any Golf.

What separates the Golf R from the herd is the promise of performance, and that’s where the brand is pushing into new territory.

Like the old Ford Focus RS, the new VW Golf R has an electronically controlled rear differential capable of shifting power across the back axle, diverting power to the outside rear wheel. That should make it much more agile than before – particularly when pushed to the limit on track.

New “Race” and “Drift” modes accessed via the flat-bottomed steering wheel’s “R” button give the car more edge than before, promising sideways thrills and a stronger appetite for apexes in the right circumstances.

That’s a similar approach to what Mercedes-AMG offers in the new A45 S, but Volkswagen’s machine is much cheaper, with an expected price of about $60,000 drive-away.

Stiffer springs and roll bars join recalibrated electronic shocks with a wider spectrum of performance than before – promising to make the car firmer in sports mode and softer in comfort settings compared to the outgoing model. Increased negative camber, lighter suspension components and new 19-inch wheels combine with bigger brakes with cross-drilled rotors will to improve performance on road and track.

A reworked version of VW’s 2.0-litre turbo motor makes 235kW and 420Nm (22KW and 40Nm more than before), driving all four wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. VW says the combination is good for a 4.7 second dash to 100km/h, and a top speed of 250km/h.

While that’s only a smidge quicker than the last model, the Golf R’s new focus on driving fun should make it a winner for many hot hatch customers.

As with the current model, Volkswagen Australia expects the Golf R to be more popular than the tamer, front-drive Golf GTI. On sale in early 2022, the new Golf R will be part of a three-pronged performance trio accompanied by R-branded versions of the Tiguan and T-Roc SUVs.

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