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What is the VW Golf R?

Beneath the Volkswagen Golf umbrella, the Golf R is a key member of hot hatch heritage. The Volkswagen Golf remains one of the most popular cars of its generation. Now in its eighth iteration, the Golf has been around since the mid-seventies. Consistently praised for being well-built, powerful and practical, the VW Golf R has garnered a wide fan base.

The sporty Golf R has itself been a part of Volkswagen’s offering for more than two decades, with a special 20th-anniversary edition launched in 2022. The first Golf R trim was launched as part of the Mk4 range, with ‘R’ being a nod to Volkswagen’s racing division.

It sits at the high end of the Golf’s trim levels, offering pace and power while retaining the good looks and pragmatism that the Golf is known for. A great option for urban driving due to its compact size, the Golf R is one for petrolheads who are keen on Volkswagen’s more powerful offerings.


Volkswagen Golf R History

The evolution of the Volkswagen Golf spans decades, and it remains one of the most recognisable cars on the road today. First launched in the UK in 1974, the Golf’s Mk1 iteration was a huge step for Volkswagen in the marketplace, offering an attractive and practical alternative to its famous Beetle.

With a Mk2 arriving in the eighties, followed by the Mk3 and Mk4 in the nineties, the Golf firmly embedded itself into the marketplace as a well-made and good-looking hatch. By the turn of the century, it was one of the most popular cars on the road and in 2002 officially became Volkswagen’s best-selling car.

In the same year, the Volkswagen Golf IV R32 was released – the first of the ‘R’ range. This marked the first genuinely ‘premium’ performance level of the Golf, with a 3.2-litre engine and a top speed of 153mph. A year later, the Mk5 was launched in Europe, before reaching the UK in early 2004. This was followed by the Mk6 in 2009, which brought the first turbocharged Golf R to market.

It is the Mk7 and Mk8 which are most seen on roads today. Like many of its predecessors, the Mk7 was released as a three-door and five-door, with both six-speed manual and DSG automatic transmission options. However, most versions of the Mk7 Golf R come as a five-door, with DSG automatic transmission. With 315bhp, the car’s turbocharged engine sees it hit 0-62mph in just 5.1 seconds.

The Mk8, the latest iteration of the Volkswagen Golf, hit the UK market in 2020. Using the same 2.0-litre engine as the Mk7, the Mk8 added some extra punch; the standard R can generate 320bhp, while the ‘20 years’ model upped this to 333bhp. With this extra power, it is the fastest Golf R to date, hitting 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds. The ‘20 years’ model shaves an extra 0.1 seconds off this, too.

As popular as ever, the Golf R received the award for ‘Best hot hatch for everyday usability’ at the 2023 Car of the Year awards.


Where does the VW Golf R sit in the range?

Since its addition to the Volkswagen Golf lineup in the early 2000s, the R has remained at the high end of the range. A fundamentally sportier offering than some of its counterparts, the Golf R has a turbocharged engine and is performance-focused.

While the ‘hot hatch’ label of the Volkswagen Golf adds a sense of practicality to its premium faculties, the R is fundamentally more powerful and thus more attractive to petrolheads. In addition to the top-of-the-range engines beneath the bonnet, the higher price point of the R also covers the interior, so you can expect it to contain the more premium trim features of the Golf range.


What features and equipment does the VW Golf R have?

Having been around for so long, the evolution of the Golf R is in line with the wider Volkswagen Golf range. Its older versions, up to the Mk6, may not be as well equipped with the premium interior features of its later iterations, but it has remained one of the most powerful versions of the Golf since it was first added as a trim level in the 2000s.

The most common VW Golf R cars on the market are the Mk7 and the Mk8. The R trim level is at the high end of the scale and therefore offers buyers a premium experience inside the car and beneath the bonnet. A four-wheel drive as standard, the Mk7 includes all of the high-tech features available in the range including semi-autonomous driving assistance and a touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities.

The Mk8, launched in 2020, is even more upmarket inside. Sport seats in the front are a comfortable reminder of the car’s premium pace, while the 30-colour ambient lighting feature and characterful blue detailing across the wheel, dashboard and upholstery craft a unique feel throughout the cabin. The ‘20 years’ edition adds leather seats and electronic power adjustment for enhanced comfort. Both iterations of the Mk8 include VW’s Car2X communications feature, which allows drivers to transmit road condition data between vehicles.


Whether you’re looking to finance a VW Golf R or purchase one, we have a wide range of used VW Golf R cars available to buy online safely with Click & Collect and home delivery options available.

Search our stock of used VW Golf R cars for sale.

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What our customers say on Trustpilot

Representative example
Monthly Payment £389.74
Deposit £249
Term (Months) 48
Cash Price £15498
Credit Amount £15249
Completion Fee £1
Total Amount Payable £18,957
Fixed Interest Rate 5.6%
Representative APR 10.9%
Arnold Clark Automobiles Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (308092) for general insurance and consumer credit purposes. We act as a credit broker sourcing credit to assist with your purchase from a carefully selected panel of lenders. Lenders will pay us a fee for these introductions (click here for details including our panel of lenders and disclosure statement). Offers subject to status, terms and conditions.
* MPG figures are obtained in laboratory testing and intended for comparisons between vehicles. Please be aware they’re not intended to represent real world efficiency.