The Volkswagen Golf has been in production since 1974 and has become known as one of the best hatchbacks the automotive market has ever seen. However, it wasn’t until 1976 that things got really exciting for the Volkswagen Golf lineup with the introduction of the hot-hatch known as the Volkswagen GTI.
The Volkswagen Golf is already a great car for the urban customer looking for utilitarian use and the Volkswagen GTI is the perfect everyday hot-hatchback. What’s better than those two? Well, people always want more, and if you’re willing to pay for it, Volkswagen does offer a lot more with the 2016 Volkswagen Golf R. Let’s find out what happens when you throw 292 horsepower into one of the most popular hatchbacks in the world.
2016 Volkswagen Golf R Exterior:
Now, there is no doubt that the Volkswagen Golf and the Volkswagen GTI are some of the hottest looking hatchbacks on the market. They have long enjoyed a simple yet sporty design theme. However, this isn’t just any Golf we’re talking about–this is the meanest Golf of them all. How does the 2016 Volkswagen Golf R differ from its siblings?
Volkswagen’s tuning arm, Volkswagen R GmbH, has worked hard to develop a range of exterior elements to set this tiny pocket rocket apart from the rest. Additions include a new bumpers, side skirts, rear diffuser, dual chrome exhaust tips, new and aggressive headlamps, and standard 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels.
On the front end, the Volkswagen Golf R features a new bumper design with enormous air intakes, a redesigned grille with an ‘R’ logo, and daytime running lights that are integrated into the Bi-Xenon headlight housings. On the side, the 18-inch “Cadiz” aluminum-alloy wheels, black brake calipers with the “R” logo, body-color “R” style side skirts, “R” badges on the front fenders, and “Matte chrome” door mirror caps. On the back, you’ll see an “R” design diffuser, four chrome tailpipes, and an “R” logo on the hatch.
2016 Volkswagen Golf R Interior:
Just like the past three version of the Volkswagen Golf R, the new 2016 model year also gets a very premium interior cabin when compared to the Golf or the GTI. Right off the bat, you’ll notice things like the front sports leather seats that have center sections trimmed in dark or light Nappa leather. The leather trimming is also seen on the upper and lower grip zones of the steering wheel and of course, there are R badges everywhere.
You’ll also notice carbon fiber trims all around the car, and a stainless-steel look on the kickplates, pedals and foot support. Next thing you’ll notice are the instruments and switches that are illuminated in a light-blue lighting. New for 2016 is the IB II infotainment system with USB and VW Car-Net App-Connect (6.5-inch touchscreen).
Comfort wise, the interior does not disappoint. On a smooth cruise, the Volkswagen Golf R offers all the comfort you would expect from a hatchback. On a sportier or track-focused drive, the Volkswagen Golf R seats offer all the support you would need when going into sharp bends at high speeds.
Let’s talk about space since this is a hatchback and utility is key. The Volkswagen Golf R offers 22.8 cubic feet of space in the trunk but with the 60/40 split folding rear seats. The can be expanded to fit basically anything you need.
2016 Volkswagen Golf R Performance:
This is where the 2016 Volkswagen Golf R shines. For the first time in North America on a Volkswagen Golf R, traction control is fully defeatable. That means you can totally let loose on a track and take complete control of your car.
Power for the Volkswagen Golf R comes from a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder TSI turbo engine making 290 horsepower with a maximum torque of 280 lb-ft. The engine is mated to a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission, and for 2016 also a 6-speed manual transmission. The 0 to 60 mph sprint comes in just 4.9 seconds with a top speed 150 mph.
Four-wheel-drive with Volkswagen’s 4MOTION system is a part of the game along with the optional DCC Dynamic Chassis Control with 3 driving modes. The driving modes include Comfort, Normal, and Sport. The Driving Mode Selection feature in conjunction with DCC: Normal, Individual, and Race. In the all-out Race mode damping in the Volkswagen Golf R is increased and engine response and the shift points of the DSG transmission are configured to be extremely sportier–perfect for track days.
Fuel economy wise the 2016 Volkswagen Golf R averages an EPA estimated range of 22/31 mpg* (city/highway).
2016 Volkswagen Golf R Safety:
Standard safety features include anti-lock braking system, anti-slip regulation, brake override system, 3-mode electronic stability control, electronic brake-pressure distribution, engine braking assist, hydraulic brake assist. However, the Volkswagen Golf R is also offered with a Driver Assistance Package (available on Golf R w/ DCC and Navigation) which includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert and Park Distance Control.
2016 Volkswagen Golf R Overall:
So is the 290 horsepower Volkswagen Golf R worth the extra money? If you’re looking at it from the perspective of the Volkswagen GTI, probably not because the Volkswagen Golf R starts at $39,090**. However, if you compare it to the likes of the Audi S3 and BMW M235i the Volkswagen Golf R looks like a pretty strong bet over the luxury brand competitors. You get all the sportiness and refinement of those cars for a cheaper price tag.
*Fuel economy values (mpg) are EPA estimates. Actual mileage will vary and depends on several factors including driving habits and vehicle condition.
**Vehicle MSRP of $39,090 excludes taxes, title, transportation, options, and dealer fees.