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2018 Volkswagen Golf R Overview

Willis Kuelthau
Automotive Editor - April 19, 2018

It doesn’t come cheap, but the 2018 Volkswagen Golf R is a tempting package. It combines luxury features with about as much performance as you’ll find in a hatchback.

What's New for 2018

For 2018 the Golf R is down to just one trim. Previously optional features like adaptive dampers and active safety technology are now standard. The transmission gains a gear, and the engine gets automatic stop/start. The exterior sees a few tweaks, most notably the LED headlights and taillights. The interior infotainment touchscreen swells from 6.5 inches to eight.

Volkswagen Golf R

Choosing Your Volkswagen Golf R

Starting at $40,635 after an $820 destination fee, the Golf R veers dangerously close to luxury-brand territory. But it's far more focused on performance. Under the hood is a tuned version of the engine in the Golf GTI, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. In this guise it produces 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, making this a very potent hot hatchback, although not as hardcore as the Ford Focus RS and Honda Civic Type R. Unlike those cars, buyers can choose between a standard six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, which is an option for $1,100. Getting to 60 miles per hour with either transmission should happen in less than five seconds. The EPA estimates mileage at 21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined. Choosing the automatic bumps the city and combined ratings up a point.

Regardless of transmission, the Golf R comes standard with many luxury features. The wheels are 19-inch alloys, the headlights are adaptive LEDs, and the side mirrors are heated. On the interior, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather seats with a heated front row, dual-zone automatic climate control, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror come standard. Keyless entry and push-button start are freebies, too.

The eight-inch infotainment display features app compatibility, navigation, and a USB port and is joined by Volkswagen's take on the Audi Virtual Cockpit all-digital instrument cluster – VW's system isn't as intuitive, but it still looks great (and works well, too, once you get the hang of it). The sound system is a premium Fender setup. VW’s suite of safety technology is all standard, including a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, collision warnings, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear traffic alerts, front and rear parking sensors, automatic high beams, and intelligent crash response systems.

Besides choosing the transmission and color, that’s what you get with the Golf R. VW has taken it upon itself to solve the paradox of choice by providing customers with only a pair of choices. Even the interior is available only in black.

CarsDirect Tip

It’s hard to say no to a manual-transmission hot hatchback, but the automatic is both faster and more efficient. Add it and enjoy the most potent Golf on the market.

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