Engaging turbocharged engine; handling, grip and traction enhanced by standard all-wheel drive; premium interior; highway champ
Pricey; not significantly faster than the GTI
The normal recommendation is to get the automatic transmission. In this car, it's actually good and allows some opportunity for involvement with its steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. So don't fret if you really want this option. But drivers who like to shift their own gears will find the manual transmission a perfect ingredient in the Golf R recipe.
The 2018 Volkswagen Golf R ($40,635) comes as one well-stocked model.
Standard equipment includes 19-in alloy wheels, aerodynamic body additions, quad exhaust pipes with chromed tips, keyless entry/push-button ignition, automatic/adaptive headlights with LED running lights and taillights, rain-sensing wipers, heated windshield washer nozzles, leather-wrapped steering wheel/brake lever/shift knob, leather seating surfaces, dual-zone climate control, 12.3-in digital instrument display, self-dimming rearview mirror, ambient cabin lighting with LED reading lights, leather seating surfaces, heated front sport seats, 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, drive mode selection, adaptive suspension (DCC), rearview camera, Bluetooth, infotainment system with 8-in touchscreen, navigation, three USB ports, SD card slot, satellite/HD radio and a Fender-branded audio system.
The DSG transmission costs another $1,100.
Like other Golf hatchbacks, the R enjoys some of the most generous cargo space in its class: 22.8 cu ft. behind the rear seats and 52.7 cu ft. when those seats are folded down.
|Basic||6 Years/72,000 Miles|
|Drivetrain||6 Years/72,000 Miles|
|Corrosion||7 Years/100,000 Miles|
|Roadside Assistance||3 Years/36,000 Miles|
2018 BMW M240i xDrive -- Smaller and not quite as practical (though its trunk is pretty accommodating at 13.8 cu ft.), the 335-hp M240i xDrive also has all-wheel drive.
2018 Ford Focus RS -- The Focus is another compact hatchback with another world-class chassis. The full-on RS version beats the Golf R with 350 hp going to all four wheels. Anyone thinking about an R really has to check out the RS. But don't procrastinate, Ford is pulling the plug on it.
2018 Honda Civic Type-R -- Front-drive/manual transmission only. But 306 hp, limited-slip differential and 20-in alloy wheels are all part of a recipe for sharp handling and sharp looks.
2018 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 -- Runs with 375 hp going to all four wheels. Slightly more of a crossover than a regular hatch and firmly in the $50,000 region.
2018 Mini Hardtop John Cooper Works -- Less expensive than a Golf R, smaller, less powerful (228 hp) and only front-wheel-driven. But one of the most entertaining rides around.
2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI -- Take a GTI for a spin to see if it works well enough. It has 220 hp and sprints from standstill to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. For many drivers, this is all perfectly fine.
Used BMW M3 -- For power, poise and prestige, there's nothing better.