Test Drive: 2016 VW Golf R


(Photos: Jack Kazmierski)

How a single letter – R – can make a vehicle so much better!

If the 210 hp and 258 lb. ft. of torque offered by the Golf GTI isn’t enough for your customers, it’s time to move them up a notch to the king of the hill, the Golf R. Like a GTI on steroids, the R takes everything a GTI has to offer, and makes it better.

The centrepiece of the R model is the fabulous 2.0L TSI engine that pumps out a healthy 292 hp and 280 lb. ft. of torque. The latter kicks in at a mere 1,900 rpm, and doesn’t let up until you hit 5,300 rpm. This gives the driver plenty of time to enjoy the sink-into-your-seat acceleration that’s the hallmark of the R.

 All that power is transferred to all four wheels via either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. And thanks to the fact that the great minds at VW decided to equip the R with 4MOTION all-wheel-drive, none of the 292 ponies go to waste. They’re all corralled into thrilling moments of acceleration and effortless cornering at speed.

 Zero-100 km/hr, for those taking notes at home, is a mere 4.9 seconds – and based on the fun we had behind the wheel of our tester, that number likely holds true whether the tarmac is wet or dry. This again, is due to the sure-footedness afforded by a good set of tires working in concert with the AWD system.


All that driving fun is enjoyed from the vantage point of a luxurious, yet sporty cockpit. Standard equipment includes fabulous leather sport seats embellished with an “R,” just so you never forget you’re driving a very special version of the Golf.

Other standard goodies include 19-inch wheels, 12-way adjustable driver seat, Bi-Xenon adaptive headlights, a premium sound system with subwoofer, heated seats, a Golf R steering wheel, sport suspension and so much more.

My personal favourite is the Dynamic Chassis Control system. Press a button and you change the driving mode from Comfort to Normal to Race to Individual – it’s your choice. Needless to say, we spent most of our time in “Race” mode, carving up the streets and highways, and having more fun behind the wheel than we probably should have. 

Surprisingly, all this glee and adventure didn’t cost us much come time to stop at the pumps since we burned an average of only 8.8 L/100 km. True, that’s nowhere hear what you might expect from a fuel-sipping hybrid, but way less than you’d expect from a 292-hp rocket that was relentlessly pushed to its limits for an entire week.

 With the R, VW has upped the ante in the performance arena. The GTI is still a blast to drive, but consumers demanding a bit more from their ride should definitely be encouraged to test drive the R. They won’t regret it!

Vehicle Specs

Vehicle: 2016 VW Golf R

Price as Tested: $42,010 (includes $2,015 Technology Package)

Engine / Transmission (as tested): 2.0L TSI / 6-speed manual

Power Output: 292 hp / 280 lb. ft. of torque at 1,900 – 5,300 rpm

Fuel Economy (as tested): 8.8 L/100 km

Noteworthy Features / Important Selling Features:

  • Dynamic Chassis Control – choose between three driving modes
  • 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system

Chief Competition (top 3): Ford Focus RS, Subaru WRX STI, Lexus IS

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