Motor mouth: VW Golf R

Is this the hottest hatch ever? The Golf R is certainly more fun than a Bentley Continental...

by Sathnam Sanghera
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

One of the many things that drives editors of national newspapers insane is three-star reviews. If a critic believes a film, play or book to be not particularly good or bad, why run the article?

However, my problem, since this column has succumbed to such a rating system, has been the five-star review. I can't help noticing that, recently, I have loved every car that has come my way. Is it because I test drive relatively few cars and am therefore inclined to pick ones that I know will be fun? Or is it because most cars nowadays are pretty good? Or am I losing my critical faculties?

I'd hate to think it was anything to do with going soft, which was why I accepted the offer of a Golf R test drive. It's a replacement for the Golf R32 and is the most powerful and fastest accelerating Golf ever produced. It sits at the top of the Golf range, above the GTI and the GTD, and as it's the kind of hot hatch commonly seen tearing across Essex I thought I could freely hate it.

And on paper at least it sounds ridiculous: features include a body kit with a rear diffuser above centrally mounted twin exhausts, LED running lights in the front bumper, 18-inch alloys and a lower ride height than the standard Golf. But, somehow, all these ingredients are stitched together in a way that doesn't make it resemble a 1980s hi-fi on wheels. Unlike its main competitor, the Ford Focus RS, you could drive it to your granny's funeral without causing a fright.

Although it will burn twice as much fuel as the rather miraculous VW Golf Bluemotion, it is significantly more efficient than the outgoing Golf R32. It's still quite thirsty for a small car, but then it gets to 60 mph a second quicker than the current GTI.

And it does all this in whatever way you please: it's sedate when you want it to be and ferocious when you need to make a point of the fast lane of the M5.

Before getting into the R, I drove the latest Bentley Continental and I must say I enjoyed driving the R more. So I can't even complain that the Golf R is too expensive. If anything, it saves you 100 grand. But not to worry: next month I'm reviewing an Alfa Romeo.

5 out of 5

VW Golf R 2.0 litre TSI 4Motion
Engine: 1,984cc, 4-cyl, turbo
Power: 266 bhp
Torque: 258 lb ft @2,500-5,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Fuel consumption: 33.6 mpg (combined cycle) 0-60 mph 5.5 seconds
Top speed: 155 mph

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