2012 Volkswagen Golf R – Review and Test Drive

By Jonathan Spira on 14 November 2012
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From a distance, it is easy to mistake the Volkswagen Golf R for its tamer sibling, the GTI, or just an entry-level Golf. It is not until you see the twin-center-exit exhaust, black mirrors and LED running and taillights that the difference becomes clear. The primary difference however is shown once you start to drive it, preferably around a curve, when the purpose of the highly bolstered sport seats and aggressive, thick steering wheel become evident.

Indeed, this is the Golf we’ve been waiting for.

The high-powered all-wheel drive hatchback has been offered twice before, the 2004 and 2008 R32, 32 denoting the 3.2-liter V-6 under the hood. This Golf R follows the recent trend of trading cylinders for turbochargers, and it’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder develops a similar 256 horsepower to the previous 3.2-liter V6’s 250 horsepower. The 2013 Golf R is available in both two- and four-door trim and starts at $33,990.

While the R looks a lot like the GTI, it is 0.3” lower, a drop shorter, and of course has “R” badges on the front and rear.


The Golf R comes with either two or four doors, and each version has a basic model and a fully-loaded version, the latter coming with sunroof, navi, premium sound, and keyless start/stop.  All Golf R’s are mechanically identical, with the same engine, transmission and performance figures.

Inside the R, the R-specific steering wheel, the “R” leather bucket seats, the stainless-steel pedals, and the subtle “R” under the vent all confirm what you already know, that you are in a car that is begging to be used and abused.

Press the start/stop button (no key needed) and the growl of the engine confirms the rest.

Click here to continue to Page 2Driving the Volkswagen Golf R and a Golf R Virtual Drive

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