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2016 Volkswagen Golf R Overview

James Flammang
Contributing Editor - August 31, 2015

Fervent “hot hatch” enthusiasts have their favorites, but the Golf R is likely to turn up on quite a few “wanted” lists. Based upon the excellent Golf hatchback, the R edition adds all-wheel drive as well as an intensively-boosted turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

End result is one of the supreme, boldly swift, small cars on the market. Yet, the Golf R retains all the practical merits expected from Volkswagen’s long-lived compact hatchback, adding a premium feel overall. Occupying the same world as a Subaru WRX STI, an “R” can whip through curves and corners with dispatch, as well as providing daily commuter service. Because the Golf R has a sedate profile, boasting propriety and functionality, it stands apart from the assertive appearance of those Subarus.

What's New for 2016

The 2015 model came out late in the season, only with VW’s dual-clutch transmission (DSG). A six-speed manual-shift version is added for 2016. The base price has dropped a bit, but with the manual gearbox as standard; a DSG version costs more than in 2015. A new Driver Assistance Package is available for the DCC w/Navigation model.

Choosing Your Volkswagen Golf R

Volkswagen’s 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed dual-clutch transmission (DSG) delivers power to all four wheels via Volkswagen’s 4Motion system. Basically the same as Audi’s quattro, the all-wheel-drive system helps provide the kind of grip that’s needed at higher velocities, with this level of power lurking beneath the hood. Fuel economy is estimated at 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway with manual shift, versus 23/30 mpg with the Direct Shift Gearbox. Only one body style is offered: a five-door hatchback.


Starting at $36,470 with manual shift (including destination charge), the basic Golf R comes with an abundant collection of standard equipment. The list includes leather sport seats, a 12-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and keyless entry with pushbutton start. Xenon headlights, LED running lights, a drive-mode selector, 5.8-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, Bluetooth, a backup camera, and 18-inch wheels also are standard.

DCC w/ Navigation

Rather than picking items from a list of options, buyers can choose a separate trim level that adds navigation for the touchscreen radio, as well as Fender premium audio, front and rear parking sensors, and 19-inch wheels. Also included is the DCC adaptive damping system for the suspension, with selectable Comfort, Normal, and Sport modes.

A newly available Driver Assistance Package for the DCC w/Navigation model includes adaptive cruise control, Forward Collision Warning and autonomous emergency braking, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, and Park Distance Control

CarsDirect Tip

If a Golf GTI simply isn't stimulating enough, VW has an "R" edition at the ready. Of course, you may be paying nearly $40,000 for a car that's built upon a moderately-priced foundation; but Volkswagen delivers a lot of performance for the price. We'd skip the extra-cost navigation, because the standard system is quite good. Besides, adding extras pushes the total price closer to that of an Audi A3, which is mechanically similar to this blazing Golf.

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