Volkswagen Golf R Versus Golf GTI: Hottest Golf Hatches Compared

VW Golf R sketch

Volkswagen has revealed the first official details of its hottest ever production hatch - the new Golf R.

Set to debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month, the R sits right at the top of VW's Golf food chain, just as previous Rs before it - the old Golf R and the car that started the brand, the Golf R32.

VW is teasing us with a couple of official images and a couple of racy sketches of the new car, and we won't know the full details until it hits the Frankfurt floor. The early numbers make for interesting reading though, and hot Golf fans may be wondering whether it'll be worth the inevitable extra over the Golf GTI - or even, its Audi S3 cousin.


VW Golf R front angle
Golf R

On looks alone, it's classic Golf R. A coat of deep metallic blue paint is the clearest link to previous Rs, though other colours will no doubt be available. It's an understated beast though, differing just enough from the slightly more showy GTI to let you know it's something special.

GTI models alone get a red stripe through the grille and headlights - on the R, it's chrome. The GTI's 80s-style straked front bumper also makes way, though this time for a wider, deeper unit that still manages to look subtle. Deeper side sills and quad tailpipes in the rear diffuser ramp up the aggression over the twin-piped GTI.

VW Golf GTI front angle
Golf GTI

Less subtle are the alloy wheels - VW notes 18" alloys are standard, like the GTI, but they certainly do a good job of filling the arches.

The chassis is dropped a further 5mm from the GTI (20mm lower than a regular Golf) and features Adaptive Chassis Control as an option. Progressive steering - like the GTI - will keep the handling tight, at just 2.1 turns lock-to-lock.


VW Golf R rear angle
Golf R

The rest of the setup takes a big step over the GTI. As standard, the GTI gets a 220-horspower version of the familiar 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol unit, but the R ups this to 300 PS and 280 pounds-feet of torque - against the GTI's 258 lb-ft. Incidentally, the Golf R's figure matches the peak torque output of the diesel Golf GTD.

Surprisingly for a top-end Volkswagen-Audi group product, a manual transmission remains available - though the ubiquitous DSG dual-clutch transmission is never far behind, here equipped with six ratios.

Helped by a new Haldex-equipped 4MOTION four-wheel drive system - two driven wheels more than the GTI - the R reaches 62 mph in just 4.9 seconds with the DSG transmission.

VW Golf GTI rear angle
Golf GTI

That's 1.6 seconds quicker than the GTI, and even with the manual 'box its 5.3-second sprint is 0.4 seconds quicker than the previous Golf R. Top speed is limited to 155 mph, three miles per hour quicker than the GTI's natural top end.

Fuel economy has also improved, by a full 18 percent over the old Golf R.

Here it lags the GTI slightly as you'd expect - its 39.8 mpg manual and 40.9 mpg DSG figures are a little short of the GTI's excellent 47.1 and 44.1 mpg figures for the same transmissions - though realistically, fuel efficiency may be a fair way down the R buyer's list of priorities!


VW Golf R sketch

Full details on the R should be revealed at Frankfurt, including the all-important price. That figure alone - likely to cross well into the 30,000 range - is more likely to pitch the Golf R against equally hot Audis, than the GTI.

But previous Golf R buyers will be glad to hear their favourite car has gained performance and shed some inefficiency, while the current GTI's highly-rated handling should bode well for the all-wheel drive R.

For more information, check out our full summary of the Volkswagen Golf alongside reviews, stats, photos and videos.

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