It might look like a Volkswagen Golf wearing a body kit and big 19-inch wheels, but the Golf R is no ordinary people's car.
With a 292-horsepower, 280 lb-ft of torque 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine under the hood, the latest version of VW's 4Motion all-wheel-drive, and a choice of six-speed manual or dual-clutch automatic, the Golf R is by far the speediest Golf to roll off assembly lines, and the quickest VW currently in production. This is also the same engine that's featured in the Audi S3 and TTS Coupe. Like the Audis, the Golf's engine is refined, with a level of polish that the competition simply can't touch. It may not have the same Jekyll and Hyde attitude as the Subaru Impreza WRX STI or Benz’s GLA 45 AMG, but it produces a smoother, more refined driving experience. Standard adaptive dampers offer three different levels of comfort, to boot.
For its second year in production for this generation, the R gets a few minor equipment level tweaks. Blind spot monitoring becomes standard equipment, as is the Driver Alert System that's been launched on so many VWs this year. The Golf R also receives VW's Sport HMI display, which shows performance readouts on the central display screen. Also new to the colour range is Limestone Grey Metallic, a stealthy shade that'll only help the hatchback to blend into the crowd.
Though the R shares its cabin with the GTI, it's a more subdued, luxurious place. Fully upholstered leather sports seats are standard, while gloss black trim with blue accent lights on the doors gives it a sporty yet classy feel. Contrast white stitching on the steering wheel and metal pedals makes this Golf feel more like a BMW than a standard-issue Volkswagen. Meanwhile, the R retains all of its practicality including a spacious cargo hold and decently sized rear quarters.
When equipped with the optional Technology Package, the Golf R gets VW's top of the line infotainment system, an 8.0-inch screen with proximity sensors, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. The package also includes lane-keeping assist, adaptive radar cruise control, as well as parking sensors. The base level display screen is smaller at 6.3 inches, but still includes smartphone connectivity and a reverse camera.
Rapid, fun, luxurious, sophisticated, practical, and ready to rock whatever the weather, the Volkswagen Golf R is perhaps the ideal all-in-one car for man or woman who enjoys performance machines. Despite a starting price of $40k, Canadians continue to snap up the Golf R, with demand outstripping the supply. Perhaps the best news for 2017 is that Volkswagen Canada has secured a greater allotment of the R.