Volkswagen R-Line: what is it and is it worth it?

January 05, 2023 by

R-Line is one of VW’s most popular trim levels – but should you opt for it?

Trim levels are essentially bundles of equipment that manufacturers sell to car customers as a package. They’re often themed around certain characteristics such as luxury or technology, with ‘sporty’ trims among the most popular types.

Volkswagen’s R-Line trim is one example of this, and it’s a trim level that is offered on almost every VW model going.

As with Audi’s S line trim, Hyundai’s N Line, Ford’s ST Line, Mercedes’ AMG-line and BMW’s M Sport, R-Line is named after and vaguely based around Volkswagen’s performance orientated ‘R’ models – cars like the 300hp+ Golf R.

This approach is nothing new – Volkswagen did something similar decades ago with ‘Driver’ trim, which imitated some of the aesthetic qualities of the VW Golf GTI, but without any performance upgrades over the standard Golf.

In short, R-Line trim brings a subtle bodykit that makes a VW look more aggressive and implies it has the performance credentials of properly fast VWs – think bigger air intakes, larger diameter alloy wheels, subtle boot spoilers and side sill(the bodywork running under the doors) extensions.

The VW Golf in R-Line guise

R-Line also brings interior upgrades and more equipment over a standard Volkswagen, some of which are designed to evoke feelings of being in a performance or sports car, while an R-Line VW will often have slightly lowered sports suspension for a more purposeful look.

And in Style trim – note the different wheels, front-end design and side sills

All of these details are relatively minor in isolation, but looked up with a gestalt perspective, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and an R-Line Volkswagen will often hold greater aesthetic and functional appeal than a lesser model.

What do you get with the R-Line trim?

Precise details vary from car to car but, taking the popular VW Golf as an example, R-Line brings the following extras over the entry-level Golf Life:

17-inch alloy wheels (up from 16-inch items)
Redesigned front and rear bumpers
Redesigned front grill with R-Line logo
More pronounced sill skirts
Twin chrome-effect exhaust surrounds
Lowered sports suspension

Sports seats
A driving mode selector
Tinted rear windows
Interior ambient lighting
A heated leather steering wheel with R-Line logo

R-Line sports seats in the current Golf

What Volkswagen models is the R-Line trim available on?

Nearly all of VW’s non-electric cars can be specified with R-Line trim – it’s a really popular upgrade.

The following Volkwsagens can be had in R-Line guise:

  • Up city car
  • Polo supermini
  • Golf family hatchback
  • T-Cross, T-Roc and Taigo small SUV crossovers
  • Tiguan family SUV
  • Touareg large SUV (although this is not currently available in R-Line guise)
  • Passat estate
  • Arteon five-door coupe and shooting brake
  • Touran people carrier

Seeing as that’s most of Volkswagen’s model range, it might be easier to list the cars R-Line trim isn’t available with. To wit:

All ID electric models
The Muiltivan people carrier

How much does the R-Line trim cost on a Volkswagen?

As a ballpark guide, R-Line trim tends to command a premium of around £2,000-£4,0000 over an entry-level Volkswagen – though this price will vary depending on the model in question.

As of January 2023, for example, the R-Line Golf costs £3,105 more than the entry-level Golf Life, though it’s not quite as simple as that as the R-Line Golf isn’t available with the same humble 110hp 1.0-litre petrol engine as the Life, instead coming with the 130hp 1.5-litre powerplant.

Like for like (IE a Life Golf with the 1.5-litre engine Vs an R-Line Golf with the same motor), the price differential is £2,495.

The Taigo, (a small-ish slightly swoopy SUV-cum-coupe of comparable size to the T-Cross), on the other hand, costs £28,000 in R-Line, but you’ll save £3,650 if you choose the entry-level Taigo Life with the same 110hp engine the R-Line gets as standard.

Just to make life more complicated, however, some models buck this trend.
There is no trim level below R-Line with the VW Arteon, for example, so it effectively becomes the base-level trim in this instance, and the Arteon Elegance (which has a more powerful engine as standard) is more expensive.

Is a Volkswagen Golf R-Line the same as a Volkswagen Golf R?

No, absolutely, positively, definitely not – though if you ever meet someone from VW’s marketing department and ask them this they’ll probably be made up, as this is precisely the impression R-Line trim was designed to give – to make people think of sportier VWs and convey more kudos upon what is a fairly ‘normal’ car, albeit it one with some extra bells and whistles.

As outlined above, save for lowered sports suspension, R-Line brings no mechanical or performance upgrades – it is purely geared around aesthetics and extra electronic/comfort features.

Is the R-Line trim worth it?

Enough people think so – it’s a really popular choice of trim – though do check you don’t find the larger alloy wheels and sports suspension it typically brings don’t make the car too uncomfortable for you over potholes, concrete sections of motorway, speedbumps and the like.

R-Line cars tend to command a price premium over lesser models but, because it’s a desirable trim, this can mean that R-Line VWs depreciate slightly less than other models.

And, because almost all new privately purchased cars are bought using PCP finance, which sees you pay off a car’s depreciation, you may find that the difference in monthly repayments between an R-Line car and one in a lesser trim level is less dramatic than might otherwise be expected.

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