New Volkswagen Golf R joins revised line-up with more power and a drift mode

There's a special Nürburgring mode

Just a month since the updated Golf hatchback (known as Mk 8.5) was revealed, the new Volkswagen Golf R joins the fray as the model flagship.

The top-spec four-wheel-drive hot hatch returns with the same cabin and exterior updates as the standard car but gets a bit more power for its turbocharged engine… and a drift mode for the hooligans out there.

Its revised looks include a refreshed full LED headlight design and a reprofiled bumper with new “air curtains” to enhance the aerodynamics. There’s a blingy illuminated VW badge on the nose, too.

Volkswagen Golf R

Plenty of exterior enhancements

New wheel designs have been added, with 19in forged alloys available that help to reduce the car’s unsprung weight and boost its handling.

At the back, the LED taillights have been redesigned, while the optional Performance pack adds a larger rear spoiler.

Alongside the standard Golf R, Volkswagen will also offer the Black Edition. This features the Performance pack as standard, and adds a black alloy wheel design, black exhaust tips and black brake calipers, while the badges have a dark finish, too.

Much-improved infotainment

Inside, the Golf R benefits from the same Mk 8.5 tech upgrades as the standard Golf hatch. That means a new infotainment system, and since the R is the highest specification of Golf available, it gets the largest 12.9in touchscreen as standard. This features Volkswagen’s latest “Ida” voice control system and lots of connectivity.

Importantly, a major criticism of the Mk8 Golf has been addressed with illumination for the volume and temperature slider controls, so they will be easier to use at night.

Volkswagen Golf R

The digital instrumentation screen measures 10.2in and comes with a bespoke dial design in the R model. Functions that are available include a GPS lap timer, a meter showing G-forces and a display that reveals the torque (twisting force from the engine) distribution between front and rear axles.

New sports seats have been added that include integrated headrests and part-microfibre suede-effect upholstery. Nappa leather will be available as an option.

There are R badges dotted around the cabin, of course, while blue lighting and detailing help to signify the car’s flagship status.

A little more power, and up to 167mph

Under the bonnet, the Golf R’s 2-litre TSI petrol engine has been tweaked to produce up to 328bhp, which is just over 13bhp more than the previous Golf R. Volkswagen quotes a 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds (the heavier estate manages the sprint in 4.8 seconds), while Performance package cars have their top speed lifted from an electronically limited 155mph to 167mph.

A seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox comes as standard (there’s no manual model) and 4Motion four-wheel drive delivers the power to the road.

Volkswagen Golf R

German-spec cars feature Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) adaptive dampers as standard (we’ll have to wait and see if they’re standard on UK cars).

There are extra drive modes added to the system, too. An Eco setting is designed to optimise fuel efficiency at a cruise, while the Comfort, Sport, Race and Individual settings are carried over, albeit with tweaks to their settings for improved response.

The optional Performance package brings the Drift mode along with one called “Special”. This tailors the car’s suspension to the Nürburgring Nordschleife track with softer damping and bespoke gearbox calibration, while Drift is designed to help owners (and presumably motoring journalists during photoshoots) get the car sideways on closed courses.

Volkswagen Golf R Estate

Prices for the new Golf R and Golf R Estate will be announced shortly, with deliveries expected before the end of the year.

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