Once upon a time, there was the Focus RS and the Veloster N and the Subaru WRX STI. They’re all dead now, so your best bets for practicality with a dose of performance rest with the Golf contingent, alongside the new Civic Type R and GR Corolla, whenever they show up.
It’s for that reason I thought it was important that I get behind the wheel of the latest Golf R, to understand where it resides on the hot hatch… butte? (“Landscape” feels like the wrong metaphor, considering how few alternatives exist.)
Our old pal Rory Carroll drove a Golf R on ice last year and had plenty of nice things to say about the experience. But I want to know how it tracks as a daily driver, and as luck would have it, my regular commute does not ever pass over a frozen lake. I also want to know how the Golf R compares to the GR Corolla specifically, as I will be lucky enough to drive one of those in a couple of weeks.
My Golf R tester will be equipped with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, rather than the standard six-speed manual. However, by choosing the DCT you also get 15 more lb-ft of torque than the do-it-yourself version. All told, we’re looking at 315 horsepower and 295 lb-ft here, along with Volkswagen’s trick 4Motion all-wheel drive system that uses twin clutches on the rear axle to divert up to 50 percent of the total power to either corner. That sounds good.
We’re also looking at a Golf — the standard-bearer for reasonably priced two-box fun. Of course the Golf R is hardly cheap, starting at $45,185 with destination, but it did start life as an Mk8 Golf and this generation has been maligned by some for an inordinate amount of interior quality cost-cutting, along with a frustrating infotainment system that many VW products share. I’m curious to find how I get on with both.
I’m also curious what you want to know, and what I can answer in the forthcoming review. Have at it in the comments!