2017 Volkswagen Golf R

2017 Volkswagen Golf R Review

It costs more than a regular GTI, but you get a lot of extra performance without much sacrifice.
4.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Mark Takahashi
Edmunds Editor
The Volkswagen Golf R is a wildly entertaining hatchback with an abundance of power, the control of all-wheel drive and sporty handling that'll get your pulse racing. Even more significant, however, is that it also gets high marks for comfort and convenience.


what's new

For 2017, The Golf R's previously optional Golf R Driver Assistance package with added safety features is now included as standard equipment.

we recommend

The base Golf R production is limited for 2017, so chances are your only choice will be the upgraded Golf R with the adaptive suspension and navigation system. We recommend upgrading to the optional dual-clutch automatic transmission for improved acceleration.

trim levels & features

The 2017 Volkswagen Golf R is a higher-performance version of the Golf and GTI. It is only available as a five-passenger, four-door hatchback with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (292 horsepower, 280 pound-feet of torque). Power is sent to all four wheels through either a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DSG).

A base model Golf R is available in very limited quantities with standard feature highlights that include 18-inch wheels with performance tires, adaptive xenon headlights, heated mirrors, a rear spoiler, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a 12-way power driver seat, heated front seats, VW Car-Net emergency telematics and infotainment, Bluetooth, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, an eight-speaker CD player with satellite radio and USB/auxiliary input.

The Golf R with DCC and Navigation is more common and adds an adaptive suspension system (called DCC) and a navigation system along with 19-inch wheels, front and rear parking sensors, forward collision warning and mitigation, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a lane departure warning system, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control and a Fender premium audio system.

trim tested

2016 Volkswagen Golf R (2.0L 4-cyl. turbo; AWD; 6-speed dual-clutch automatic)

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.5 / 5.0

Driving

5.0 / 5.0

Acceleration5.0 / 5.0
Braking5.0 / 5.0
Steering4.0 / 5.0
Handling4.5 / 5.0
Drivability5.0 / 5.0

Comfort

4.5 / 5.0

Seat comfort5.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort4.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.5 / 5.0

Interior

5.0 / 5.0

Ease of use4.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out5.0 / 5.0
Driving position5.0 / 5.0
Roominess5.0 / 5.0
Visibility5.0 / 5.0
Quality4.0 / 5.0

Utility

4.0 / 5.0

Small-item storage4.0 / 5.0
Cargo space4.0 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
The Golf R's 292-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder produces strong power that few competitors can match, and its braking and handling are impressive as well. Importantly, the R's upgrades represent clear improvements over the Volkswagen GTI. As a performance machine, it doesn't disappoint.

acceleration

edmunds rating
There's plenty of torque right off the line, but power really explodes around 4,000 rpm. It reaches 60 mph in an effortless 4.6 seconds with the DSG automatic and launch control. Our best GTI time is 6.2 seconds; the Subaru STI takes 5 seconds. AWD assures there's no torque steer, either.

braking

edmunds rating
Stopping from 60 mph required only 102 feet thanks in part to the summer tires, but that's still fantastic for any car. The reassuring, progressive pedal response is accompanied by good feedback. It's easy to get just the right amount of braking you want.

steering

edmunds rating
In Normal mode, the steering can feel numb and overly light considering the car's sporting intent. Race mode is better and feels more responsive, but in the end, the Golf R's steering is good but not great.

handling

edmunds rating
The combination of all-wheel drive, summer tires and a smart stability control system makes the Golf R very easy to drive aggressively. When going around turns, there's lots of grip, and it's predictable and manageable.

drivability

edmunds rating
The DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission fires off smooth shifts without the slow-speed stuttering and hesitation of other such transmissions. It's an easy car to drive quickly or slowly. The traditional manual is also easy to use, even in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

comfort

edmunds rating
Despite its performance potential, the Golf R is surprisingly comfortable, especially compared to other sport compacts. Your daily commute or your date doesn't have to suffer because of your weekend fun, but it's obviously less comfy than like-priced luxury cars.

seat comfort

edmunds rating
The seats are superb, offering just enough side bolstering to keep the average person in place through turns without feeling confining the rest of the time. They're also very supportive over long distances.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
The ride is firm compared to similarly priced luxury cars, but it's a La-Z-Boy compared to some rival hot hatches. Ruts and bumps are well-damped and rarely harsh. The mostly standard DCC adaptive dampers further improve the ride.

noise & vibration

edmunds rating
Tire and wind noise is minimal, especially compared to other high-powered sport compacts. The engine note has a fantastic snarl, and it sounds even better when the car is put in Race mode. You can also select the louder engine note individually.

interior

edmunds rating
Yes, this is a very expensive compact hatchback, but it's arguably the best in terms of practicality. The added R touches don't take anything away from that, making the Golf R a car you'd be happy to use every day.

ease of use

edmunds rating
Driver-centric controls are close, clearly labeled and easy to use. The touchscreen is better than those of rivals, thanks to sharp graphics, large icons and quick responses. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also included.

getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
Wide and tall doors with a moderately high seat make this an easy car to get into and out of, especially for its size. Given that cars of similar performance are often coupes, this four-door hatch gains an even greater advantage.

driving position

edmunds rating
With 10 power adjustments for the driver and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, drivers of nearly any body type will be able to find their ideal position.

roominess

edmunds rating
The cabin feels spacious, and the backseat offers plenty of leg- and headroom for even tall passengers. This is as good as it gets for cars in this class.

visibility

edmunds rating
Visibility is superior all around, and a high seating position gives the driver an unobstructed outward view. A rearview camera is standard but not entirely necessary, and the same holds true for the advanced safety features.

quality

edmunds rating
Unlike other high-dollar sport compacts, the regular Golf already has a near-luxury cabin with superior materials and switchgear. The Golf R sweetens the deal with standard leather and attractive blue stitching. In this case, the quality matches the price.

utility

edmunds rating
In general, hatchbacks gain an edge for their versatility and generous cargo capacity for the size. The Golf R is no different and gets a slight advantage for everyday usability as a result.

small-item storage

edmunds rating
We like the anti-tip cupholders and forward media bin, but the center armrest bin annoyingly doesn't open for extra storage space.

cargo space

edmunds rating
The cargo area has a maximum of 22.8 cubic feet with the rear seats up, or 52.7 with them down, which is comparable to some compact SUVs.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.