2015 Volkswagen Golf R

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Review

The car of the year, gone wild.

By: David Merline

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: June 23rd, 2015

The Volkswagen Golf was voted 2015 North American Car of the Year, not bad for a non-North American car, and certainly well deserved. The Golf has always been a solid, dependable, and extremely sporty little car, and those qualities are only improved in the R.

As it is, the Golf is a remarkable car, and one needn't buy a tricked-out version to enjoy its considerable fahrvergnügen, but the Golf R turns the Golf's fun-to-drive factor up to 11.

  • Exterior

    The Golf has always more or less defined the practical hatchback look. It may not be the sexiest car on the road, but real driving enthusiasts are less concerned with how their cars look from the outside; it's how they feel from the inside that matters.

    That's not to say that the Golf is unattractive, in fact, the current generation may be the best looking yet. Not that a whole lot changed for this year's golf; there are cooler headlights and (of course) a bigger lower fascia (everyone's doing it), but the refinements, while subtle, make for a very sleek, stylish little ride.

    The Golf R gets new bumpers, side skirts, rear diffuser, black mirror caps (a very tasteful addition), and chrome exhaust tips.

  • Interior

    The Golf R's interior is so nice (as is the standard Golf's) that it's a wonder anyone ever pays the extra money for an Audi. Sure, the interior is about as minimalist as they come, but it's extremely tasteful, with higher-quality materials than you'll find on any similarly priced car. The Golf R is so nice, in fact, it makes one wonder why anyone would pay the extra money for an Audi S3, which is essentially the same car, only with a rather overstated aggressiveness baked into its styling.

    The sport seats do their job of keeping you securely in place, and they also manage to be extremely comfortable. The infotainment system, while stripped down compared to Audi's, is among the best designed and easiest to use. Navigating through its simple white-on-black screen, you realize how unnecessary all those full-color, 3-D-graphic-driven infotainment screens really are. This does everything brilliantly with next to no distraction.

    Naturally, all the available mod cons are here; SiriusXM radio, navigation (optional), heated front seats, push-button start, backup camera, you name it, but those things are all secondary. If you're buying a Golf R, all you care about is what it's like to drive.

  • On the Road

    What the Golf R is like to drive is this: it's great. I mean, what else is there to say? Everything about it feels solid, with that precision that only those anal-retentive Germans seem to be capable of.

    The Golf R's 2.0-liter turbo-four has all the power and torque on demand you could need -- which considering the current Golf shed close to 200 pounds thanks to the use of lightweight materials, isn't a lot. But that only helps when it comes to fuel efficiency, which the Golf R has plenty of, in spite of its sportiness (26 mpg combined).

    But who cares about mileage anyway. That's not the point of this particular Golf. Take this thing out on the wide open road and you'll see what it's all about. Although our Golf R came with an automatic transmission (manual will be available soon), it's VW's six-speed DSG, which is perfectly tuned to go from functional to fun with the slightest tap of the accelerator.

    The Golf R handles corners like they're straight lines, and the steering has the perfect amount of responsiveness to make it a manageable daily driver and a fun-as-hell get-out-of-my-way speed-limit blower offer.

  • Conclusion

    The Golf R has everything the standard Golf has, and then some. It's like they took the perfect car and added a little more perfection on top, just because they could. If you like to drive, you'll like driving the Golf R. And if you don't like to drive, you'll like it anyway because it's just that good. Do yourself a favor and take one for a test drive. Only problem is, you'll never want it to end.

  • Specs & Prices

    Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four

    Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch automatic

    Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive

    Power Output: 292 hp / 280 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 23 city / 30 highway

    Base Price: $39,090

    As Tested: $39,910 (incl. $820 destination)

    Available Features:

    Golf R bumpers and daytime running lights, exlusive grilles, air intakes, body panels and exterior trim, dual muffler quad exhaust, Golf R badging, alloy pedals and metal door sill, electric parking brake, VW Car-Net

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