2012 Volkswagen Golf R Hatchback Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Volkswagen Golf R Hatchback

We didn't find any results. You can try changing your zip code, or check another model year.

We found matches for you!

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Volkswagen Golf R Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 256 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 19/27 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 Volkswagen Golf R

  • It's pricey, but the 2012 Volkswagen Golf R offers a very appealing mix of performance, utility and rarity.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Strong turbocharged engine; standard all-wheel drive; sharp handling characteristics; hatchback versatility; two- or four-door configurations; interior sophistication.

  • Cons

    Considerably more expensive than the regular GTI; lack of interior storage space; manual gearbox only.

  • What's New for 2012

    The 2012 Volkswagen Golf R is all-new.

Full 2012 Volkswagen Golf R Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Volkswagen Golf R is all-new.


Years ago, Volkswagen ran a series of rather humorous "Un-Pimp Your Ride" TV spots. The basic premise was that the more mature VW GTI needed no modification compared to trendy hopped-up economy hatchbacks. For 2012 that's still true, but it seems Volkswagen has gone off and done a bit of pimping anyway with its new Golf R.

Of course, this is a restrained, German-style VW we're talking about. You won't find any giant wings, multicolor mood lights or scissor-type doors here. Instead, the 2012 Volkswagen Golf R is a Golf that's been tastefully upgraded one level past the GTI. Power, handling and braking have all been improved, and the car looks a bit more aggressive thanks to a lowered stance, restyled front and rear fascias and twin exhaust tips that exit beneath the center of the rear bumper.

Under the hood is the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that's used in the Audi TTS. In Golf R spec, it produces 256 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque. It's an eager and throaty-sounding engine, and provides noticeably quicker acceleration than the GTI. The Golf R also comes standard with all-wheel drive, something you won't find on any other Golf. Besides providing extra traction in wet weather, the Golf R's AWD system helps the car accelerate out of corners more quickly, eliminates torque steer and generally provides more confidence. Overall handling is also sharper thanks to a retuned suspension. The Golf R certainly rides more firmly than the GTI, though, and you'll need to be OK with driving stick with a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission -- an automatic transmission isn't offered.

Even so, daily usability is still one of the Golf R's biggest draws. Like the Golf and GTI, it's a roomy hatchback offered in a two- or four-door layout, with an upscale interior and plenty of standard features. Yet it's also got enough performance to put a grin on your face. That extra performance is perhaps hard to justify when you look at the window sticker -- the R's base price is about $10,000 more than a base GTI. And if it's performance you really want, you'll still likely be happier with a cheaper Mazdaspeed 3 or even a more powerful Ford Mustang GT. But the 2012 Volkswagen Golf R is special in its own right. America, your pimped GTI has arrived.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Volkswagen Golf R hatchback is offered as a two-door or four-door. Standard features include 18-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, full power accessories, sport front seats, heated front seats, leather upholstery, special Golf R badges and trim details, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker sound system with satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface. Opting for the Sunroof and Navigation package gets you a sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, a premium audio system, a navigation system and, for the four-door Golf R only, power recline for the driver seat.

Powertrains and Performance

The Golf R comes standard with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 256 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is the only transmission offered. All-wheel drive is also standard. EPA estimated fuel economy, which stands at 19 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined, is respectable for a performance car.

In Edmunds performance testing, the Golf R went from zero to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds. It's a quick time, but hardly outstanding for this class of car.


Standard safety equipment for the all-wheel-drive 2012 Volkswagen Golf R includes antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the related GTI earned a top rating of "Good" in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.

In Edmunds brake testing, the Golf R stopped from 60 mph in 124 feet, which is average for a car with all-season tires.

Interior Design and Special Features

Among sporty hatchbacks, we rank the 2012 Golf R's interior at the top. The cabin reflects a serious and mature design, with hints of Audi's upscale trim and switchgear throughout. You won't find better materials in the segment, nor front seats that are as sporty and supportive for punchy driving or casual cruising. Unfortunately, you also won't find many places to stash phones, wallets and sunglasses, since the Golf R suffers from a lack of useful storage spaces. The optional navigation system is easy to program, but its map size and displayed street names are noticeably hobbled by the small display screen.

Gaining access to the surprisingly roomy rear seats is naturally easier with the four-door model, but ingress and egress to the two-door's rear seat is relatively painless. Behind the rear seats, the cargo area can hold up to 12.4 cubic feet. That's double the capacity of a Mini Cooper, but about average for other hatchbacks. This volume increases when the split-folding rear seats are down, opening up 46 cubic feet of room.

Driving Impressions

The 2012 Golf R takes the successful recipe of the GTI and improves it considerably with more power and sharper handling. The turbocharged inline-4 has plenty of torque, making it easy to burble about on congested city streets. But you don't really get the full whack of turbocharged thrust until about 2,800 rpm, meaning you have to keep the engine on boil if you want immediate acceleration. The transmission shifter's light-effort action is very similar to the GTI's, but the throws are shorter. Not only is it excellent for spirited driving, it's remarkably easy to use around town.

Thanks to all-wheel drive, the 2012 Volkswagen Golf R carves through the corners with perfect composure, and the GTI's occasional torque steer is nowhere to be found. It's certainly a fun car to drive aggressively around corners. Pushed to its limits, though, the R is let down by its all-season tires; many competing cars come with grippier summer-spec tires. In terms of ride quality, the Golf R is firm, but never objectionable unless the pavement is in truly miserable shape.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Hole in one

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Golf R 4dr Hatchback AWD w/Sunroof, Navigation (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)

For me, when it comes to driving a smaller car, I used to get nervous - poor performance coupled with inexpensive looks and low-end interiors. I reluctantly paid the premium for the Golf R Nav 4-Dr. After trekking home 8 hours from 3 states away, sleeping off the payment shock, and ignoring the guilt, I am relieved that I adore the car.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Down sizing to a golf

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Golf R 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)

I've only had mine since Saturday 4/21/12 and it was a fluke that I got it. I believe is the first sold in AR. I've owned a '91 Galant VR4 (modded) and most recently an Infiniti FX45 so I'm not a stranger to powerful AWD cars, but both past cars lacked in handling. I was looking at a WRX but it seemed cheap inside. This Golf is very nice fit & finish inside, handles really well, and eagerly accelerates, redline comes quick. I don't really notice any noisiness, have used the bluetooth featurewith the windows down while winding out 4th gear. I didn't really need a GPS, Sunroof, or dynaudio. The carbon steel gray metallic paint give's it that serious machine look. This is my new daily driver.

15 of 19 people found this review helpful

Lives up to its reviews

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Golf R 4dr Hatchback AWD w/Sunroof, Navigation (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)

I just drove home in a fully loaded Type R. It's everything I expected. While I'll wait a bit before sticking my foot in the firewall, the car seems to get up and go pretty much as reviewers have reported. Handling, fit and finish are great too. Ride is pretty much comparable to my Mercedes 350SLK, firm but not punishing. The user interface to the car's nav, stereo, etc. is first rate, better thought out than my Audi's MMI. I'm hard pressed to figure, however, why VW failed to include a Homelink transmitter.

Talk About The 2012 Golf R

Read more about the 2012 Volkswagen Golf R

Gas Mileage


  • 19
  • cty
  • 27
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Other Golf R Years


Identifix Reliability Ratings

Rating unavailable for this vehicle

      (No data available)
See All Ratings
Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat online with us
Email us at help@edmunds.com
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific
Call us at 855-782-4711
Text us at ED411