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Golf R Golf R

New Car Reviews

New Car Review: Volkswagen Golf R Performance Pack - AA Ireland

Published 17th November 2021Read Time 8 min

Starting Price: €65,255

Price as tested: €71,148


  • The looks, the power, the grip, the practicality. Performance Package seems good value at €3,000


  • The price is getting bigger. 


The Golf R is the flagship of the Golf range and is the most powerful Golf R model to date, boasting 320hp and a torque figure of 420-newton metres. It comes with 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system with torque vectoring on the rear axle. Here, we are driving the Golf R with the R Performance Package, thanks to reader Shane Hill, who has kindly lent us the car. The Golf R Performance Package is a €2,951 option on top of the car’s €65,255 entry price. It adds 19” Estoril Alloy Wheels, an open rear spoiler, additional driver profile selections “Special” and “Drift” and the top speed is no longer limited to 250 km/h but is now extended out to 270 km/h. The driving profile selection can be accessed by pressing the R button on the steering wheel. Drift mode is designed to be used away from public roads and pushes the limits of the car’s torque vectoring by provoking understeer instead of neutral vehicle handling: the maximum possible torque in this mode is available on the wheel located on the outside of the bend. The ESC in Drift mode is set to “Sport” as standard, meaning that the Golf R’s control electronics kick in early. Switch off the ESC and you can drift the car right up to the limits of your talent. In both Special and Drift mode, the gearbox calibration of the 420Nm drive has been optimised in order to keep the rpm consistently high. New for this model is that the DSG gearbox will stay in manual mode in both modes if the driver has selected this.


The Golf Mark 8 has been quite a styling upgrade from the Mark 7 and not everyone has been a fan but it is much more striking than before while staying with the implied constraints of it “being a Golf”. There is a new front bumper and front spoiler on the R version, side wings and an R-style air intake grille above the side aprons. The car sits 20mm lower than a standard Golf and the Performance Pack adds the gorgeous 19” Estoril Alloy wheels. That pack also adds a specific rear spoiler and at the back, there is also a specific rear bumper flanked by four chrome-plated twin tailpipes. Our car came in Lapiz Blue, because, well you’d have to, wouldn’t you?


The R’s cabin is really first class. The quality is as good as you will find in any Volkswagen product and the seat is really figure hugging too, which is handy as you start flinging the car about. There is adjustable lumbar support as standard and there is also the possibility to adjust for reach too if you like that WRC style driving position. Visibility in the cabin is good and with parking sensors all around as standard then it’s also easy to park, although you spend a lot of time worrying about damaging those gorgeous 19” wheels. The only divisive part comes in relation to the dashboard, where some won’t like the lack of physical buttons, which are replaced by touch screens and touch-sensitive sliders to adjust things like the interior temperature and the volume. These aren’t Volkswagen’s finest work and some Golf owners who have come from the Mark 7 will be missing the old controls for sure. There is a 10-inch infotainment screen and you can easily integrate Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 


This is where this car really excels and it’s also where the Performance Pack starts to look like something of a bargain. The grip from this car is insane, and it launches away from a standard start at a blistering pace. With all-wheel drive, this car gives more assurance for the novice performance driver and for the more talented, allowing you to push the limits even further. Some all-wheel-drive cars can feel a bit dull but with the Performance Pack you can dial in a lot more playfulness and you can feel the power being sent to the rear wheels to help the car rotate on the way out of corners. This car was also fitted with the optional adaptive suspension (DCC) and in the most comfortable setting this car is actually really comfortable 


Well this kind of car, a turbocharged full-fat petrol engine hot hatch is something of a dying breed and one that might not exist without being ‘electrified’ in some way so if you do opt for an R, stick as much stuff on it as your budget will allow. The Performance Pack option is a must having driven it. Standard equipment is good anyway, with or without the options. 


In a word, yes. Of course, if you push this performance too far eventually it could bite you in the backside, but it is a really loaded car when it comes to safety equipment. A rearview camera is a €423 option and you can add optional side airbags for €690. The car has a five-star Euro NCAP safety test score. 


Fast and incredibly competent, the Golf R doesn’t feel as raw as some rivals (Yaris GR or Civic Type R) but it will be easier to live with. It is very special and really benefits from the Performance Pack. 

Spec Check:

Volkswagen Golf R Performance Pack

Engine: 2.0-litre TFSI  

Power: 320hp

Torque: 420Nm 

0-100km/h: 4.7 seconds

Fuel Economy: 7.8 l/100km

Top Speed: 270 km/h

Transmission: 7-speed DSG Auto

Co2: 176 g/km

Annual Motor Tax: €600

Luggage Capacity: 

Price as tested: €71,148

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