I had a lovely first date with the Volkswagen Golf R a couple of years ago, blasting through the French Alps just before attending the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. I loved that car, and I'm super stoked to get behind the wheel of this new, 2015 model.

Why? This R is based on the lighter seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf, or more importantly, the sweet new GTI, with a potent 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine, tuned here to deliver 290 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque – gains of 34 hp and 37 lb-ft versus the outgoing model. And unlike the previous Golf R, the new model will be offered with both a six-speed manual transmission or the company's lovely six-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox (the old car was a manual-only affair). With the stick-shift, Volkswagen claims the Golf R will hit 62 miles per hour in 5.3 seconds, and that time is reduced to 4.9 with the DSG. As an extra bonus, the manual-equipped car will reportedly achieve up to 31 miles per gallon on the highway.

Like before, Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system is used in this new Golf R, with the latest-generation Haldex coupling. The automaker says a full 100 percent of the engine's available torque can be sent to the rear wheels, should the need arise, and the XDS cross-differential lock at the front and rear helps make the vehicle more agile, and allow for faster cornering.

I'll admit, I don't love the way the seventh-generation Golf's styling has lent itself to the R, but it is indeed aggressive and absolutely sets itself apart from lesser GTIs out on the road. I'm sure it'll be a total hoot. Bring it on.
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Jan 8, 2014

- Most powerful production Golf ever for the North American market
- New car has an estimated 290 horsepower, but is more fuel efficient than previous Golf R
- EA888 TSI® 2.0-liter engine propels DSG® equipped Golf R from 0 to 62 mph in 4.9 seconds
- Car features new 4MOTION® all-wheel-drive system
- Golf R will go on sale in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2015

Herndon, January 8th, 2014 - The North American International Auto Show will see the U.S. debut of the latest Golf R, the most powerful version of the Golf ever to be sold in this market. With an estimated 290 horsepower, the new Golf R has 34 hp more than the previous version, which was sold as a 2013 model. Despite the additional horsepower, the new R model is expected to be considerably more fuel-efficient than its predecessor with a manufacturer estimated highway fuel economy rating of 31 mpg with the six-speed manual transmission, up from 27 mpg.

Like all three previous Golf R models, the new model transfers its turbocharged power to the road via a permanent all-wheel-drive system; in this case, the latest version of the 4MOTION® system with a fifth-generation Haldex® coupling. To ensure great chassis dynamics, there's a new sport suspension, the "progressive" variable-ratio steering system, and a stability control system ("ESC Sport") which can now be deactivated for track driving. Other highlights include the optional DCC dynamic chassis control system.

Equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, the Golf R will reach 62 mph from rest in 5.3 seconds, an improvement of 0.4 seconds over the old car; with the six-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission, the car completes the sprint in just 4.9 seconds.

The new Golf R is equipped with an extensive package of exclusive features. Along with specially designed bumpers, side skirts, and 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, the Golf R can also be visually distinguished from the GTI by details such as standard Bi-Xenon headlights with newly designed LED daytime running lights (in a dual-U design) and a two-branch exhaust system with four chrome tips. Inside, the Golf R underlines its position as the flagship of the model range with sport seats with leather seating surfaces, a leather-wrapped three-spoke sport steering wheel, ambient lighting, and R-specific instrumentation. The most powerful and fuel-efficient Golf R will be launched in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2015 in four-door form only.

High-tech turbocharged engine

The Golf R has an even more advanced version of the EA888 four-cylinder turbocharged and direct-injection TSI® 2.0-liter engine that's fitted to the new Golf GTI. The engineers boosted power to an estimated 290 hp, delivered at 5500 rpm, thus creating one of the most powerful four-cylinder production engines in the world. Maximum torque has been increased to 280 pound-feet, available over a broad speed band from 1800 to 5500 rpm. To attain this output, the Golf R model's 1984-cc engine was subjected to a motorsports-style development program. The following components were modified or completely redesigned compared to the GTI engine: the cylinder head (together with exhaust valves, valve seats, and springs), pistons, high-pressure injection system, and turbocharger.

The Golf R model's EA888 series engine has innovative engineering solutions such as water-cooled exhaust gas channels running through the cylinder head to the turbocharger (to help efficiently reduce full-load fuel consumption) and a dual injection system with direct and multi-port injection. Thanks to its new fully-electronic coolant control system, the Golf R TSI engine has much more efficient thermal management with a reduced warm-up phase that reduces frictional losses and fuel consumption. In addition, the TSI engine has variable valve timing on the intake and exhaust sides, as well as two-stage exhaust-valve lift. This helps enable optimal control of the charge exchange process for better performance, fuel economy, and lower emissions.

4MOTION all-wheel-drive system

The Golf R has always used 4MOTION permanent all-wheel drive. Using refinements such as the Haldex 5 coupling, the latest-generation 4MOTION system is activated before any wheelspin occurs, helping eliminate nearly all traction losses. The system achieves this by using an advanced control function based on specific driving conditions. When operating under a relatively low load or when coasting, the front wheels are driven and the rear wheels are decoupled, helping to save fuel. However, the rear wheels can be engaged in fractions of a second whenever necessary via the Haldex coupling, which is activated by an electro-hydraulic oil pump.

A control unit continually calculates the ideal drive torque for the rear wheels and controls how much the multi-plate clutch should be closed by activating the oil pump. The oil pressure increases the contact pressure at the clutch plates in proportion to the torque desired at the rear axle. So, the amount of pressure applied to the clutch plates can be used to continuously vary the amount of torque going between the front and rear wheels. If necessary, nearly 100 per cent of the drive torque can be directed to the rear wheels.

In addition to the Haldex coupling that acts longitudinally, four electronic differential locks (EDS) that are a function of the electronic stability control system act laterally. The system briefly brakes a wheel that is slipping, enabling uninterrupted and stable transfer of drive power to the wheel on the opposite side.

In addition, the Golf R is equipped with the XDS® cross differential lock at the front and rear. The latest version, known as XDS+, applies this functionality to a larger range of dynamic performance, helping make the vehicle more agile. When the car is being driven at highway speeds, brake pressure is applied to the inside wheel to help restore optimal traction as soon as the electronics detect excessively light loads. XDS+ thereby operates like a limited-slip differential and thus compensates for understeer during faster cornering.

The new Golf R is equipped with "ESC Sport" as standard. The system is activated by a two-stage switch on the center console. When the driver presses this switch briefly, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) switches to the "ESC Sport" mode. In very fast driving on a race track, the ESC system has a higher threshold in this mode. When the ESC button is pressed for longer than three seconds, the system is fully deactivated for high-performance track driving, a feature that is available only on the Golf R.

Chassis features

The Golf R features a sport suspension setup that is specifically tuned to the car. Compared to the base Golf, the ride height was dropped by 0.8 inches, which makes the Golf R lower by 0.2 inches than the GTI. In the Golf R, the strut-type front suspension has a newly developed lower control arm and the multi-link rear suspension was enhanced with different tuning of the toe-link bearings.

The engineers designed the running gear of the new Golf R for maximum driving fun combined with extraordinary stability and good long-distance comfort. Compared to the previous model, steering response was improved thanks to the new "progressive" variable ratio steering rack. In addition, maximum attainable cornering speeds were significantly increased and understeer all but eliminated.

With progressive steering, there are 2.1 turns of the wheel (380 degrees) from lock to lock, compared with 2.75 turns (500 deg) for less powerful Golf models. The new steering operates with a progressive gear ratio, perceptibly reducing steering effort in maneuvering and parking. On country roads with lots of bends, the experience is enhanced because the steering is more direct.

The new Golf R can be ordered with the second-generation DCC dynamic chassis control as an option. DCC offers three driving modes: 'Comfort', 'Normal', and 'Sport', which are selected and displayed via the center console touchscreen as part of the "Driving Profile Selector" functionality. In "Sport" mode, the dampers are stiffened for more agile handling.

The DCC system adaptively controls the damper valves via a further developed and refined control algorithm. DCC takes input signals from wheel displacement sensors and accelerometers as well as vehicle information from the Chassis-CAN bus to compute these values and adaptively adjust the optimal damping force. Moreover, damping forces are selectively applied to the four wheels individually. With the new generation of DCC, it is now possible to independently vary rebound and compression damping while cornering.

Race mode. The Driving Profile Selector has three programs in the Golf R, and four in conjunction with DCC: "Normal", "Individual", and a "Race" mode that has been specially designed for the Golf R. In combination with DCC, "Comfort" mode is also available. All modes were specifically tuned for the Golf R. In "Race" mode, which is designed for high-speed track driving, damping is increased and engine response and the shift points of the DSG transmission are configured to be even sportier. In the "Individual" driving profile, the driver can combine mode settings for various individual parameters.

Brakes. The Golf R has the uprated brakes from the GTI Performance model. At the front, the car has 13.4-inch diameter vented discs that are 1.2 inches thick, while the rear rotors are 12.2 by 0.9 inches. The black brake calipers have the R logo on them. Up front, the brake pistons are 2.4 inches in diameter and are 1.7 inches at the back.


Volkswagen R GmbH has developed numerous new exterior elements for the flagship Golf. They include the bumpers, side skirts, rear diffuser, dual chrome exhaust tips per side, the lights, and standard 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.

The Golf R is distinguished at the front by a new bumper design with exceptionally large air inlets, a modified radiator grille that sports an "R" logo, and newly developed daytime running lights that are integrated into the Bi-Xenon headlight housings. The LED daytime running lights form a distinctive dual "U" design beneath the headlights.

From the side, the Golf R is characterized by newly designed 18-inch "Cadiz" aluminum-alloy wheels shod with 225/40 tires, black brake calipers with the "R" logo, body-color "R" style side skirts, "R" badges on the front fenders, and "Matte chrome" door mirror caps.

Rear details that define the new Golf R include an "R" design diffuser, four chrome tailpipes, and an "R" logo on the trunklid.


As in the three previous Golf R models, Volkswagen R GmbH has extensively upgraded the interior. The most powerful Golf is equipped with sport seats in the front and leather seating surfaces that feature outer seat surfaces, inner side support panels, and head restraints upholstered in dark "Carbon" Nappa leather. Meanwhile, the center sections of the seats are trimmed in dark or light Nappa leather. Leather is also used to trim the upper and lower grip zones of the three-spoke "R" sport steering wheel, which has a chrome "R" logo on its lower cross bar.

The decorative inlays of the dashboard and door trim panels feature the "Carbon Touch" design; ambient lighting is also integrated in the door trim panels as standard. The door sill kickplates, pedals, and foot support are designed with a stainless-steel look.

The instruments and the touchscreen's start menu were also customized. When the ignition is switched on, the illuminated light-blue tachometer and speedometer needles sweep once across the entire scale to their end pins. The instrument needles are also automatically illuminated as soon as the driver's door is opened. The radio or navigation-system touchscreen shows an animated "R" logo on startup.

The new-generation radio and radio/navigation systems will be available with a 5.8-inch screen on U.S. market Golf R models. The touchscreen features proximity sensors: as soon as the driver or front passenger moves a finger near to the touchscreen, the system automatically switches from display mode to input mode.

About Volkswagen of America, Inc.

Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc., an operating unit of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (VWoA) is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. VWoA's operations in the United States include research and development, parts and vehicle processing, parts distribution centers, sales, marketing and service offices, financial service centers, and its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Volkswagen Group is one of the world's largest producers of passenger cars and Europe's largest automaker. VWoA sells the Beetle, Beetle Convertible, Eos, Golf, GTI, Jetta, Jetta SportWagen, Passat, CC, Tiguan, and Touareg vehicles through approximately 630 independent U.S. dealers.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 11 Months Ago
      Very happy they are still offering the R with a manual transmission...even if it's a bit slower than the DSG.
      • 11 Months Ago
      Hmmm. Interesting. Less HP than the new STi but DSG, 4-Motion and a hatch...
        • 11 Months Ago
        Its the torque that matters and how efficiently it is transferred.
          • 11 Months Ago
          Well, really, it's power to weight that matters.
          • 11 Months Ago
          No, at least not if we're talking about acceleration. If we're talking about acceleration, engine power is what's important not engine torque. Engine torque on it's own is essentially meaningless in terms of acceleration other than the fact that power is the product torque and engine speed.
        • 11 Months Ago
        Less tacky too.
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        • 11 Months Ago
        I imagine the DSG R will be the quicker of the two. The thing I hate about the STI is that the gearing is rather short requiring you to shift into 3rd before hitting 60mph.
      • 11 Months Ago
      Glad its no longer way down on power. Thr previous models were a bit nicer looking.
      • 11 Months Ago
      It's so ugly, but I want that performance. Why has VW insisted on making their recent Golf models so ugly. Why!?
      • 11 Months Ago
      Only 290 hp and less torque than GM Ecotec 2.0T offered over a half decade ago? Where's the torque? Ecotec 2.0T offered Corvette-like torque of 340 too!
        • 11 Months Ago
        Ecotec is a great motor. Too bad GM is not putting it in anything worth driving. They should make a new mid engine fiero with it :)
      • 11 Months Ago
      Nice looking Audi Allroad Shooting Brake.... oh wait, sorry it's the Golf. They really shouldn't have done both in blue. Shows the family resemblance way way too much. And people think the Fusion/MKZ are too similar? Geez.
        • 11 Months Ago
        You could have simply said A4 and moved on, but you distinguished yourself from the average troll by suffering a complete disconnect from reality to say it looks like a crossover. Bravo.
      • 11 Months Ago
      best thing is the sale price includes a private tow truck to follow you around so it can tow this POS back to the dealer.
      • 11 Months Ago
      Does not look very agressive, more like a Golf kit gone bad.
      • 11 Months Ago
      That article is flawed. It's not the worst selling car. Only 5500 were made for 2012-2013 with 3800 selling in 2012 and nearly all by last summer. There are no bloated inventories of Golf Rs. Check the sales stats on VW's website. It's a limited production car just like the GT-R that too was included in the list. Also, this is the Euro version shown. The US version will be 4-door only.
      • 11 Months Ago
      It's still a golf. Please can we have the Scirocco?
        • 11 Months Ago
        • 11 Months Ago
        Scirocco is too old at this point. There have been rumors that the next model might make it here like Lachmund said. There have also been rumors of the Golf and GTI going to 4 doors only which would open up a spot for the Scirocco as the 2 door model. Of course those who don't like the styling but want 2 doors wouldn't be happy.
      Lucky Stars
      • 11 Months Ago
      If i did not need a luxury executive car I would consider this over a mustang or camaro any day!
      • 11 Months Ago
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