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2018 Volkswagen Golf R Test Drive Review

Even though the 2018 Volkswagen Golf R remains  is basically unchanged from the 2017 model, that doesn’t mean VW hasn’t thrown a few improvements at it. At its core, the Golf R is a hot hatch of the highest order, but more suited to adult enthusiasts than the 20-something crowd. Because there are no gaudy spoilers or superfluous add-ons. Instead, the Golf R relies on seamlessly integrated technology, 4Motion all-wheel drive, and handling manners that make it one of the best daily drivers in the segment.

For the full 2018 Volkswagen Golf R review, specs, pricing and data read on.

2018 Golf R

2018 Volkswagen Golf R Exterior

Middle age has a way of creeping up on you when you least expect it. On the inside I’m a 22-year old punk who thinks he knows it all, but on the outside my gray beard tells me differently. The same can be said about my ever-changing taste in cars, especially the compact hot hatch segment. It used to be I’d flock to cars like the Civic Type R or Focus RS, but nowadays I gravitate to vehicles that are a bit stealthier. And even though it’s the baddest Golf currently on sale, only those in the automotive “know” will truly appreciate what they’re looking at.

Visually, the Golf R looks very much like it did last year sans the inclusion of updated 19-inch alloys running 235/35-series summer tires and now standard LED headlights with LED daytime running lights. Its shape is distinctively VW Golf, but there are some visual queues that set it well apart from its stable mate, the GTI. A lower blacked-out front fascia for instance is more defined with a sculpted lower splitter and large callouts. Out back the subtle aggression continues with a quad-tipped chrome exhaust, special “R” badging along with blacked-out rocker moldings and a trick lower diffusor. This car is not about flash, but understated performance and pure sport.

2018 Golf R

2018 Volkswagen Golf R Interior

For 2018 the biggest change to the interior of the Golf R is the inclusion of Volkswagens Digital Cockpit. This large cluster replaces any and all analog gauges and allows the driver to customize their display in a variety of ways via steering wheel mounted controls. Everything from driver assistance features, MPG and efficiency readings, expanded navigation views and audio settings, along with vehicle information can be accessed here. Mounted center dash is also an 8-inch touchscreen to control the infotainment system with Fender Audio. Features like the Car-Net App Connect system, different drive modes and a performance data monitoring system are located here as well.

Technology aside, the cabin of the Golf R is a great place to spend time. 2018 brought with it some updated materials, a 12-way power adjustable drivers seat with heat, a flat-bottom sport steering wheel as well as room for five adults. We put the better part of 400-miles on the Golf R in just two days and in that time I couldn’t believe how enjoyable it was to drive. The cabin is quiet, the seats offer great lateral and lumbar support, there’s plenty of leg, shoulder and headroom and to top it off, it offers up to 52.7 cubic-feet of storage space with the rear seats folded down. Unlike others in the class, the Golf R also felt like it was constructed out of a block of granite as nothing in the cabin felt cheap, gimmicky or chintzy. Volkswagen should be commended for not following trends and instead designing an interior that is usable on a day-to-day basis and made for adults.

2018 Golf R

2018 Volkswagen Golf R Performance

Fitted with 4Motion All-wheel drive, a manual transmission, four driving modes dynamic chassis control and a 2.0L turbocharged inline-4 with direct injection that produces 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, meant that the Golf R was one helluva performer. When driven in anger the I-4 revs to its 6,400-rpm redline while producing usable torque throughout the rev range. The 6-speed manual was a welcome surprise in a test car and thankfully treated us to even clutch engagement and a great shifter with nicely spaced throws. For those not wanting to shift, fear not, as a 7-speed DSC automatic is also available.

Getting everything right from a dead stop will have you seeing 60-mph in just 4.8 seconds and then onto a limited top speed of 150 mph. For a short wheelbase AWD car that weighs 3,283-lbs, the Golf R felt remarkably light on its feet. Immediate turn-in was quick and the car has much less understeer than we originally anticipated. It was also easy to drive quickly and felt quite composed when pushed thanks to a sport suspension  Braking performance was confidence inspiring and was facilitated by oversized calipers that sit on large 13.4-inch vented brake discs. Keep in mind as well that with an EPA fuel economy rating of 22-mpg city, 31-mpg on the highway and 25-mpg in combined driving, one can also expect a range of over 350 miles from the 14.5-gallon fuel tank.

2018 Golf R

2018 Volkswagen Golf R Safety:
Equipped with the latest in safety technology, the 2018 Golf R comes to us with such features as anti-lock brakes, 4Motion all wheel drive, Automatic Post-Collision Braking, electronic stability control, Intelligent Crash Response system and a standard backup camera. Additional safety features can be seen over at VW.com.

2018 Golf R

2018 Volkswagen Golf R Overall:

With a base price of $39,375.00 and an “as tested” price of $40,195.00, the 2018 Volkswagen Golf R is definitely at the higher end of the price spectrum than some of its competitors. And while others in the segment may deliver marginally better performance; they simply can’t match the Golf R in terms of overall daily drivability and refinement. This is one to check out.

Drop by your local AutoNation Volkswagen dealer today to check one out!

*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 $39,375.00 excludes taxes, title, transportation, options, and dealer fees.

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