If you're looking for the hottest hatchback around, the new for 2016, 292 hp Golf R is your choice. At least until the Focus RS starts to arrive. The five-door hatchback uberGolf comes with a 2.0L turbocharged engine and 4motion all-wheel drive for maximum acceleration. It's also available in both six-speed manual ($39,995) and six-speed dual clutch automatic ($41,395).
Standard features include 19-inch wheels, heated 12-way power driver's seat, with R-logoed and heavily bolstered leather sport seats. There is also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and VW has finally added a USB port. There is a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with a Fender eight-speaker audio system with satellite radio. There are standard adaptive headlights, dual-zone climate control and a cooled glovebox. The R has automatic wipers, a rear-view camera, and selectable modes to adjust handling, steering and throttle response. The Golf R comes with a unique sport suspension, and a body kit and grille to make sure it stands out from the Golf or GTI. The Golf R with a manual is rated at 10.9 L/100 km city, 7.7 L/100km highway. The dual-clutch automatic is rated at 10.4/7.9.
The only available option on the Golf R is the $2,015 technology package, which includes adaptive cruise control, blind spot and lane departure warnings. It also has emergency braking, parking sensors front and rear, and navigation.
The alternatives here are the brand-new (and potentially long waiting list) Ford Focus RS, the sedan only Subaru WRX STI, or even the slightly milder Focus ST or Golf GTI. But the R is lighter than the RS or STI, so should be lots of fun to toss around.