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New Volkswagen Golf R prototype review: promising signs for VW’s performance flagship | Auto Express

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Verdict

While this is all but certain to be the final pure-petrol Volkswagen Golf R, it already feels like a nicely distilled embodiment of what the sub-brand is. Not the purest hot hatch, by any stretch, but a true performance flagship – a car that should satisfy current devotees, while also pulling in petrolheads left stranded by other brands and models leaving a dwindling market.

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Volkswagen is gearing up to launch its most powerful production version of the Golf yet – and we’ve had an early chance to get behind the wheel.

The facelifted four-wheel-drive Golf R is set to make its debut this summer, complete with a power boost that takes the total output to 329bhp – a figure previously reserved for special-edition versions of the hatchback, and more grunt than the wagon has ever been offered with. 

As a result, the standard Golf R models will now crack the 0-62mph dash in 4.6 seconds (hatch) and 4.8 seconds (estate) – while an optional pack can lift the speed limiter from 155mph to 167mph, making these cars the fastest production VWs available, alongside the Arteon R Shooting Brake.

The slightly ragged wrap on our test car hides many of the new R’s details, but we know it will, of course, get the redesigned LED headlights of the Mk8.5 Golf, plus the option of an illuminated badge for the first time. There are new front bumpers, incorporating slits that help to flow air more effectively along the flanks. There will be new, lighter, forged-alloy wheels available too, saving up to 8kg of unsprung mass per corner. 

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