Mountain Wheels: thrilling moments in the affordable and fast VW Golf R

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A limited number of 20th Anniversary Edition Volkswagen Golf R racing machines will be available this fall with a six-speed manual transmission.
Courtesy picture

There’s fresh news to go along with the impressive all-wheel-drive 2022 Volkswagen Golf RI that got to drive a few weeks ago, not that the car itself isn’t already the epitome of every rally driver in the world. budget-conscious weekend.

As well as the usual “Mk8” model I’ve driven – although it’s not all that regular – Volkswagen is celebrating two decades of high-performance AWD versions of its Golf cars with a special 20th anniversary edition.

North American drivers will be able to get just 1,800 of the $44,940 Golf R special, with the six-speed manual transmission I enjoyed on my ride, along with 19-inch black wheels, a true leather interior carbon fiber, special badging and, well, no sunroof, I guess to heighten the intensity of the driving experience. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is the other option, for $45,740.



Your standard 168.9-inch-long VW Golf R (assuming you can find one) still gets the same rather amazing 315-hp 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine and 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. performance-oriented and included rear axle torque vectoring. It’ll also get 28 mpg on the highway, if you can ever drive it civilian.

My tester came in at $44,640 and managed to wow me on every ride and not just for its tape-like grip and impressive speed. The new Golf R is brighter and more angular, with a sleek interior that borrows heavily from the futurism of the ID.4 electric vehicle.



Overall, the Golf R looks much more like the defunct Ford Focus RS, my all-time favorite dream machine for imported hot hatch racers, firmly embracing the notion of economical performance, without the noisy turbos and the ubiquity of every WRX STI. the low.

To the unenthusiastic observer, it’s a pretty basic little automobile, heavy on the plastics, not particularly flashy or even family-friendly inside. But for enthusiasts, it’s the real deal, with intensity and focus built into every fiber of it. Even the drive mode selector found on all vehicles these days includes drift and race modes, for those whose tires are provided by a sponsor.

The car produces driving results roughly on par with a scaled-down BMW M model, and despite an increasingly flimsy, race-tuned suspension and its unforgiving summer performance tires, it was civil enough too. for certain two-digit lines.

Every second I was out, however, quickly turned into a fast, curve-sucking, traffic-sucking fun party. That stitched shift knob feels solid, and the clutch weight on the manual transmission is pretty forgiving.

There’s so much four-wheel traction here (which can be illustrated on the new, highly detailed all-digital instrument display) that it feels like a waste not to frolic. I did a lot in the foothills of Denver, with a side road from Tiny Town to Conifer illustrating just how much power can be applied in the turns. That third gear was awfully accommodating, with that turbo spooling up quickly even when squeezing corners around 10 mph.

The grip never stops, even on wet roads; I’m sure some performance snow tires would allow it to do much the same in the winter months, minus the deep snow.

The design, especially inside, is 100% New Volkswagen, which again may put off purists, but makes the Golf R a natural extension of the family’s electric vehicles. There’s a wall of glossy black throughout, and the digital instrument cluster is straight out of the ID.4 and will definitely need some tweaking during your first few weeks of riding. There’s also an ultra-aggressive, flat-bottomed, almost square steering wheel covered in disappearing black controls.

You may also have mixed feelings about all those soft-touch haptic control points, including the slightly hidden volume and temperature sliders. It’s not overloaded with cabin features at all: a start button, two USB-C outlets and the parking brake button are literally the only things of note, plus a wrap-around cup holder and 12-volt outlet for your radar. detector.

The seats are well bolstered but not terrible, even with the high shoulder bolsters, and the totally flat dash and A-pillar cutouts also seem designed with performance driving in mind. On the outside, there are plenty of flashy visual touches, including the gloss black rear wing, the gloss around the elliptical-shaped quad exhausts and the front fascia. A slightly dimpled bonnet and silver side mirror caps also add to the look.

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