July 25, 2024


Automotive to Us

Volkswagen Golf R (2021 – present) | Expert Rating


The flagship of the eighth-generation (Mk8) Volkswagen Golf range, the Golf R is a five-door hot hatch and estate model.

Sitting above the standard Golf line-up and the performance Golf GTI model, the all-wheel drive Golf R sits at the top of the range – powered by a 315hp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. This is over 70hp more than front-wheel drive alternatives like the Golf GTI and Hyundai i30 N, but this added power and grip comes at a price.

“It is a pricey machine these days”, Auto Express comments, alluding to the Golf R’s price tag that surpasses the £40k mark. Autocar recommends the Honda Civic Type R as it costs significantly less, and because it is more involving and adjustable on the road. What Car? offers up the Toyota GR Yaris instead for the same reasons.

Many reviews also criticise the confusing and rather annoying layout of the Golf R’s touchscreen controls, and often comment that, while there is nothing explicitly wrong with the car’s interior, it does not match the quality of the premium-badged rivals that it is priced against.

Though not as refined inside, the Golf R is slightly roomier than the likes of the Audi S3 and BMW M135i, and comes with a generous list of safety equipment and other on-board tech as standard – including launch control.

A model that divides opinion, the Sunday Times says that the Golf R would be “a deeply frustrating car to live with every day”, while Top Gear describes it as “the supreme hot hatch all-rounder – no sharp edges, and more rewarding than you might expect.”

As of May 2022, the Volkswagen Golf R holds an Expert Rating of 74%, based on 13 reviews published by UK media sources. This score is a couple of points lower than both the standard Golf model and the Golf GTI.

Golf R highlights

  • Fastest Golf you can buy
  • Comfortable cabin
  • More practical than some key rivals
  • Plenty of safety kit as standard

Golf R lowlights

  • Interior is nothing special
  • Confusing infotainment
  • Expensive to buy and run
  • Not as entertaining as best hot hatches

Key specifications

Body style: Medium hatchback
From £42,190 on-road

Launched: Spring 2021
Last updated: Summer 2021
Replacement due: TBA

Reviews, road test and comparisons from across the UK automotive media. Click any of the boxes to view.

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Model reviewed: Hatchback
Score: 5 / 10
“This would be a deeply frustrating car to live with every day. It wouldn’t be so bad if the new Volkswagen Golf R was breathtaking to drive but it’s not. Every so often it feels a bit like the wonderful Golf R of old, but these are only fleeting glimpses in between all the times it lets you down.”
Read review

Safety rating

Independent crash test and safety ratings from Euro NCAP

Adult protection: 95%
Child protection: 89%
Vulnerable road users: 76%
Safety assist: 78%

The Volkswagen Golf R shares its Euro NCAP safety rating with the mainstream Golf range, which was awarded a five-star rating back in 2019.

As a high-spec model, the Golf R comes with plenty of active safety kit as standard, including such niceties as autonomous lane guidance, rear traffic alert and traffic sign recognition. The Golf R also comes with a three-year warranty.

Eco rating

No eco rating

As of May 2022, the Volkswagen Golf R has not been lab tested by Green NCAP. It’s unlikely to be a priority for the organisation, but if it is tested then we’ll post the results here.


Trophies, prizes and awards that the Volkswagen Golf R has received


  • Carwow Awards – Most Wanted Car

Similar cars

If you’re looking at the Volkswagen Golf R, you might also be interested in these alternatives

Audi S3 | BMW M135i | Cupra Leon | Ford Focus ST | Honda Civic Type R | Hyundai i30 N | Mercedes-AMG A 35 | Mini Countryman John Cooper Works | Renault Megane RS | Skoda Octavia vRS | Toyota GR Yaris

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