Meet the revised 2018 Volkswagen Golf R: it takes pretty much everything that’s great about the GTI and adds more power, more grip and a much greater focus on performance. It also packs better tech with a handful of unique safety features and an eye-catching fully-digital instrument cluster. Fortunately, adding all that extra bang hasn’t thrown off the Golf R’s balance. It’s still a well rounded ride that’s very easy to live and it’s still a great daily driver for those with slightly more twisty drives.
Built on the bones of the GTI, the Volkswagen Golf R is powered by the same 2.0-liter four-banger. However, the R’s powerplant has been upgraded with a unique cylinder head, turbocharger, pistons and direct injection system. Basically, everything important save the block has been modified. The result is a boost in power to 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. (That’s 72 horsepower and 22 pound-feet of torque over the already lively GTI.) Come for the power, but stay for the torque. The Golf R’s engine pulls nicely at pretty much any speed. Peak torque comes on at a casual 1,800 rpm, which makes for off-the-line performance (especially with launch control), but the broad and flat torque curve also begets very responsive throttle response whether around town or around a fast corner.