Volkswagen’s final Golf R destined to be the brand’s greatest hot hatch.
The latest VW Golf 8 R is going to be a crucial car for the German brand.
For decades, Golf has been the standard to which all other hatchback rivals are measured. This is especially true for the high-performance versions, cars such as the GTI and Golf R.
With Golf 8, VW must boldly start the transition to enhanced digitisation. Not only in terms of the infotainment systems, but also advanced powertrains.
VW has been open about its electrified future. But that does not mean it is sacrificing the brand’s most cherished performance car nameplate – quite yet. This new Golf R might be the final version to carry its proud “R” badge, but it promises to be a great send-off.
Golf GTI might have established VW’s dominance in the hot hatchback market, but it has been Golf R which has elevated the brand’s performance vehicle standing.
With its potent EA888-series engine and the benefit of all-wheel drive, the most powerful Golf has garnered a loyal following. And VW has now revealed a new version, based on the advanced Golf8 platform.
VW’s new Golf R uses the familiar EA888 engine, but in a better state of tune.
Engineers have managed to increase power from 228 to 235kW. There is 420Nm of torque too. For a family car with five doors and reasonable cabin space, those are very healthy engine output numbers, which translate to rapid performance.
As with the original Golf R, this new version offers two gearbox options.
Buyers will have the choice of either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG. Although the vast majority of VW’s hot hatchbacks are sold with the DSG dual-clutch gearbox, VW realises that some enthusiasts want a traditional six-speed manual.
Although this new version is the most powerful Golf yet, VW’s industrial design team has managed to make it quite subtle in appearance. Differentiating it from other Golf 8s is a reshaped front bumper, framed by an aero slitter and R-specific intake ducts.
The new Golf R also rolls an optional 19-inch alloy wheelset, shod with Michelin’s excellent Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. Top speed potential is 270km/h and VW claims 0-100kph in only 4.7 seconds.
Besides having more power, the most significant different the Golf 7 and Golf 8 R, is its drivetrain.
VW has engineered the all-wheel drive system to mimic as much rear-wheel drive behaviour as possible. To achieve this it uses a new rear differential design, capable of applying 100% of the axle’s drive torque, to the right or left wheel. Harmonizing the dynamic potential of this new rear differential are five driving modes.
VW’s software engineers have managed to create different algorithms to control the steering feel, throttle response and traction systems, depending on which mode is selected by a Golf R driver.
Two of the more notable options, are “Race” and “Drift Mode”, both of which are only recommended for use on a closed circuit.
Leveraging the new Golf R’s superior traction are upgraded suspension bits. It rides 20mm lower than the previous-generation, reducing the centre of gravity and has 10% stiffer springs, to resist body roll during high-speed cornering.
Although now local price point has been confirmed, the Golf 8 R is expected to go on sale in South Africa during the last quarter of 2021, or very early in 2022, depending on VW’s production schedule remaining stable for the next few months.