VW Golf R Mk8 – long-term review

This is our new £50,000 Golf R. Gulp.

This is the third and final fast Golf we’re welcoming to the AutoGarage in 2021. We’ve lived with both flavors of GTI. Now it’s R’s turn.

Exaggerated? Well here are my two theories as to why not.

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Number one: This may be the last Golf we’ve ever competed in as a long-term Top Gear. Now that Volkswagen has created an all-electric rival to its seminal hatchback in the drab form of the ID3, what’s next for the Golf Mk9 or 10?

I suspect that VW has amassed so much goodwill in this sub-brand that the Golf will live on as something of a retro homage act, stretched out on the same kind of EV skateboard platform as the upcoming ID3, ID4, etc. It will be less compact and streamlined, but it will make the “Voltswagen” transition easier.

By the time the Mk8 is replaced by a ninth Golf, it will surely have relinquished the VW hatchback rights to the ID3 and retired to a petting zoo for beloved midsize sedans.

Second, and more importantly for now: this is the last chance for the Mk8 to prove that it is, in fact, demonstrably better than the Mk7.

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Standard golf courses? Ruined by the tricky and taxing interior, but not enough of a step in other areas to make up for it. GTI? Perhaps more agile and, in the case of the Clubsport, more grippy, furious and much faster. But somehow you feel like they are now Later of everything, without ever being visible best.

Has R upped your game? Not with massive power though (316bhp is a pretty low rent for a superhatch these days), the powertrain is a different story.

When I took an early Golf R into Top Gear’s proprietary Nordhampshliefe, I discovered that Drift Mode technology, the rear differential that can actively launch power from an outside wheel to create an Instagram-friendly artificial powerlide, works hard even when the Golf R is not in y or b mode. It’s a car you can tweak and balance on the throttle, if you really focus.

The rest of the time, it’s just a Golf. So are the nuggets of driving genius enough to unleash latent golf brilliance here?

And, what luck, we managed to live with it in November. As the night progresses, the weather forecast for the next six months in Britain is summed up as ‘grey’, with most roads disappearing under a thin layer of rotting leaves, drizzle and sleet. Impressive!

If ever there was a time for a four-wheel drive hyper-Golf to shine, come on, make us swoon over the latest combustion VW hatch, this is it. The time has come, the time has come, eh, R.

I’m more skeptical of the optional £3000 titanium exhaust myself. As tested, that’s perilously close to £50,000. And with its first tank of gas, it averaged 27.8 mpg, exactly ten miles per gallon less than the slightly lighter FWD GTI Clubsport. Oh.

So is it worth the extra cost to buy and run? Place your bets.

Next: Report 2

VW Golf R Mk8 – long term reviewVW Golf R Mk8 – long term reviewVW Golf R Mk8 – long term review

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Source : topgear.com

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