2016 Volkswagen Golf R Review

Golf R

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2016 Volkswagen Golf R Overview

If you're looking for a hot hatch but want more power than the mainstream ones offer, you may be a good candidate for the Volkswagen Golf R. Brought to the U.S. back in 2012, the Golf R takes all that's good about the Golf and GTI and adds a whole bunch of insanity.

Sitting under the Golf R's hood is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine pumping 292 horsepower to the pavement via Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. That's good for a 0-60 mph time of 4.9 seconds. Drivers who like to row their own will rejoice to hear the Golf R now comes with a 6-speed manual transmission standard. If you're the type who prefers today's excellent automatics, the 6-speed DSG will still be available, but now for a fee.

Volkswagen is proud to point out the Golf R made it around the Nürburgring in 8 minutes and 15 seconds, putting it dead even with the famed BMW 1M. That lap time more than makes up for the Golf R's 22 mpg city/31 highway mileage rating (with the manual, the automatic clocks 23/30), which is a bit lower than you'd expect for a car of its size.

For 2016, the Golf R will have 2 available trims—the Golf R and the Golf R with DCC (Dynamic Chassis Control) and Navigation. Both will come with 4 doors and Volkswagen's new MIB II infotainment system with USB connection and VW Car-Net App-Connect—a system that integrates your phone into the car's infotainment system and works with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.

Pick the raucous base model and you'll find yourself flying down the road enjoying such niceties as a 6.5-inch color touchscreen infotainment display, driving mode selection, leather seats, keyless entry with push-button start, a power driver's seat, and dual-zone automatic climate control. But thanks to 18-inch wheels, 3-mode electronic stability control, and vented brake calipers, you may be too busy enjoying the ride to really notice the luxury surrounding you. Automatic bi-Xenon headlights will keep your attention focused on the outside, while front and rear side curtain airbags, dual front airbags, 4-wheel antilock brakes, and VW's Intelligent Crash Response System protect you inside the car.

Opt for the Golf R with DCC and Navigation and you'll hop in your ride to find things like Discover Media touchscreen navigation and Volkswagen's Dynamic Chassis Control—a system that lets the driver adjust the car's damping settings. In addition to the goodies found on the base Golf R, the more premium trim boasts 19-inch wheels and a Fender sound system. New for 2016, the Golf R with DCC and Navigation is available with VW's updated Driver Assistance Package, complete with adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, autonomous emergency braking, and park distance control.

The Golf R has made a name for itself as a fun, raucous car with more than enough utility to be a daily driver. With seating for 5 and 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats (52.7 with the seats down), the Golf R certainly fits the bill as a practical car. Where most people get scared away from the Golf R is the price tag—$35,650 is by no means a small price for a small hatchback. If you know the Golf R is for you, go for it. While it may seem like a lot of money to lay down for a small Volkswagen, when you compare it to the cars its performance numbers rival, it begins to look like a bargain.


Zach is a gearhead and travel junkie who loves to check out cars wherever he goes. Having lived abroad in Germany and Russia, he has grown particularly fond of European cars, but has found nothing able to top his love for his first car: a 2001 Toyota Tacoma.

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