Volkswagen Golf R

Volkswagen Golf R

Take a Volkswagen GTI, enhance it with improved performance, handling and braking, and you have the makings of the Volkswagen Golf R. This subcompact model comes with standard all-wheel drive, a sport-tuned engine and numerous performance enhancements, including launch control.

2015 to Present: Volkswagen Golf R

The second-generation Golf R is based on the latest generation Golf chassis and is available in three- and five-door body styles.

This vehicle is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine making 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. It comes paired with a six-speed manual transmission, or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with manual shift control and paddle shifters.

Launch control is included and holds the revs at 4,000 rpm before the clutch engages. Its 0-to-60 mph time is 4.9 seconds according to Volkswagen. The Volkswagen Golf R is EPA-rated 23/30 mpg city/highway and takes premium grade gasoline.

The second-generation Golf R comes equipped with Volkswagen's progressive variable-ratio steering system, an electronic differential lock and offers a dynamic chassis control system with three modes.

Distinctive features of this model include bi-xenon headlights, available 19-inch wheels, R badging and quad tailpipes. Inside, the Golf R has power-adjustable sport seats wrapped in leather, aluminum pedals, a distinct sport steering wheel and room for five. A power sunroof and dual-zone automatic climate control are standard. Lowering the 60/40 split-folding rear seat completely results in an impressive 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space. An adjustable cargo floor is standard.

The strongest competitor to the Golf R is the Subaru WRX STI. Shoppers might also compare both the Ford Focus ST and the Fiesta ST. The Volkswagen GTI is another model worth considering.

Earlier Volkswagen Golf R Models

The first-generation Volkswagen Golf R had a short run in the US market and was imported for two model years — 2012 and 2013. No 2014 model was built.

The original Golf R was powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and paired with a 6-speed manual transmission. This engine is rated at 256 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque. Its 0-to-60 mph time is 5.7 seconds, according to Motor Trend. EPA mileage ratings were 19/27 mpg city/highway. Premium gasoline is recommended.

The suspension system is composed of front and rear stabilizer bars, four-wheel independent suspension, MacPherson front struts and a multi-link rear suspension.

Seating five, the first generation Golf R has a roomy interior. Standard equipment included Bluetooth, heated front seats, sport leather seats, heated side mirrors, an eight-speaker audio system, a USB port, an auxiliary input jack and two 12-volt outlets.