2018 Volkswagen Golf R Review

Pros & Cons

  • Impressive performance from the all-wheel-drive system
  • Great handling without sacrificing ride quality
  • Interior is well-built with excellent materials
  • Accommodating and flexible cargo space
  • Outstanding performance aside, hard to justify the lofty sticker price
Other years
Volkswagen Golf R for Sale
List Price Range
$35,985 - $36,360

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Which Golf R does Edmunds recommend?

There's only one Golf R trim level. As such, your choice comes down to picking one of the R's five colors and either the manual transmission or the new dual-clutch automatic. The automatic is the more pragmatic and sensible choice, but you'll have more fun if you choose the manual.

Edmunds' Expert Review

Overall rating

8.5 / 10

With an abundance of power, sporty handling and all-wheel-drive stability, the 2018 Volkswagen Golf R is a wildly entertaining car that will boost your pulse rate. It's a star member of the hot-hatch club, which is fitting since VW practically invented the hot hatch with its original 1983 GTI. This newest R version packs 292 horsepower and improved handling and braking capability compared to a 2018 GTI. Naturally, it also boasts a comfortable interior and inherent hatchback versatility.

For 2018, the Golf R carries over largely unchanged, but with a few important tweaks. There are new LED headlights, taillights and daytime running lights. The new headlights are adaptive, meaning they swivel in the direction of turns. There's a new 19-inch wheel design, an 8-inch touchscreen display, a customizable gauge cluster display, pedestrian detection built into the forward collision warning system, and VW's new six-year/72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper transferable warranty.

Perhaps most important is the availability of a new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission to accompany the six-speed manual transmission. A boon to the performance enthusiast who loves the feeling of a manual transmission but faces the reality of bumper-to-bumper commutes, the new automatic also achieves slightly better fuel economy than the manual.

The only real knock on the Golf R — and it's a big one — is its lofty price tag. It's a hefty premium over the GTI, which isn't quite as capable but is a blast to drive. You're also in V8-powered muscle-car territory. Yet the Golf R is a top pick for any pragmatic performance enthusiast who wants outstanding performance, impressive utility, and a generous set of features.

2018 Volkswagen Golf R models

The 2018 Volkswagen Golf R is the hot-rod edition of the Golf and GTI hatchbacks. The four-door Golf R seats five and comes 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 seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (called DSG).

Standard features include 19-inch wheels with performance tires, an adaptive suspension, adaptive LED headlights, heated mirrors, a rear spoiler, keyless entry, push-button ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable driver's seat and heated front seats. On the tech front, the R comes with VW Car-Net communications, Bluetooth, a navigation system, a digital gauge cluster, an 8-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, and an eight-speaker Fender audio system with a CD player and satellite radio.

Advanced safety and driver aids include front and rear parking sensors, forward collision warning and mitigation, pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a lane departure warning system, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control.

Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the Volkswagen Golf R (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 6-speed dual-clutch automatic | AWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted in 2016, the current Golf R has received some revisions, including a new seven-speed automatic transmission. Our findings, however, remain applicable to this year's Golf R.

Driving

9.0
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

9.0
There's plenty of torque right off the line, but power really explodes around 4,000 rpm. It goes from 0 to 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

9.0
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

8.0
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

8.5
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

9.0
The DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission fires off smooth shifts without the low-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

8.5
Despite its performance potential, the Golf R is surprisingly comfortable, especially compared to other sport compacts. Your daily commute doesn't have to suffer because of your weekend fun.

Seat comfort

9.0
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

8.0
The Golf R has a firm ride 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 standard adaptive dampers further improve the ride.

Noise & vibration

8.5
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

9.0
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

8.0
The 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

9.0
The wide and tall doors and 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

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

9.0
The cabin feels spacious, and the back seat offers plenty of leg- and headroom for even tall passengers. This is as good as it gets for cars in this class.

Visibility

9.0
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

8.0
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

8.0
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

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

Cargo space

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

Technology

A centerpiece of the new Golf R's tech offerings is an 8-inch capacitive touchscreen that responds when you hover a hand over the screen. Elsewhere, the Golf R offers a robust set of driver aids, including lane departure warning, automatic high beams and pedestrian detection.

EdmundsScorecard

Overall8.5 / 10
Driving9.0
Comfort8.5
Interior9.0
Utility8.0

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2018 Volkswagen Golf R.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Loving VW Golf R
LaCa Golf R,05/21/2018
2.0T w/DCC and Navigation 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM)
Had 2 GTI’s before this car. Loved them and decided to go for even more bang. It’s more than I need but super fun to drive. The tech on it is great and I enjoy driving this car. The suspension is sporty so you do feel the road, which I like. But avoid potholes.
Pirate Golf: Golf Arrrgh!
DrT,03/29/2019
2.0T w/DCC and Navigation 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
Context: I am an old guy with an age appropriate wife who can drive stick (priceless!: recommended as part of the pre nup). I live in the snowiest city in the USA. I have owned or leased BMWs and Audis with AWD among others. Many of the cars and the SUV that I have owned or leased have been AWD or 4WD. I have had my Golf R for 8 months and have 7200 miles on the odometer. Unique. Very easy to drive. Only complaint is ground clearance. This comes into play with the snow drifts that the snow plows leave at the end of my driveway. No issues with driving in snow but I have snow tires on 17 inch rims for the winter. Nice to have multiple driving modes and they seem to be genuinely alter the driving dynamics. Comfortable to be the passenger in any of the seats. My wife hated to ride in the BMWs and found them needlessly difficult to drive. I had to agree. The R is fast without being unruly. Excellent handling with a comfortable ride. But if you value your spine and dental work, avoid the pot holes! This my first car with a touch screen so not an expert but not a fan. I prefer buttons and knobs: you don't have to take your eyes off the road to work them. The touch screen is overly sensitive for my taste since you do not have to actually touch it to activate, getting within an 1/8 of an inch will trigger it. The electronics play nice with my iPhone. Not a big deal for me but that particular feature seems to be the deciding factor for car buying now. Pricey when compared to the base GTI but price difference is small when looking at a GTI with same suite of electronics. A bargain compared to its Audi S3 fraternal twin and trumps it because of available M6. GTI has a very nice ride and handling but the R is radically better. If you cannot afford an R and have to opt for the GTI, do NOT test drive the R. Update 4/7/2020. 14,000 miles. Still runs great. Still lots of fun to drive. Highway 30 mpg. Mixed 24 mpg. Rear brakes needed some attention. The GPS lost connection to the antenna after a commercial car wash, fixed under warranty. No issues on wet or snowy roads. I run snow tires in the winter. I have run 87, 89, 91 and 93 octane. No knocking with the lower grade but noticeable drop in performance.
Three GTI’s and Now Perfection
Rex Applegate,11/08/2018
2.0T w/DCC and Navigation 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM)
My 2012 GTI (after an ‘84 and ‘96) was running fine but I felt a need to upgrade. Wanted all the latest tech and was thinking Autobahn but don't like the moonroof that is standard on that model. Nothing for it but to go Golf R. Six months and 6k miles later and I Love it! More performance than my driving ability can use, but it’s nice to know than when you want to punch it the result is pure joy. I also like having a comfortable, practical, low profile hatchback that doesn’t attract attention. If you crave driving down the street and having people gawk at you, get the Subaru WRX STI or Honda Civic R. This is a car for people who want to have it but not flaunt it.
Quick enough!
Steve,07/27/2018
2.0T w/DCC and Navigation 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
This is a small car. I traded my MB E350 for the Golf R. I wanted a sporty car that could be serviced locally. This car is for people who like to drive rather than sit and aim. It is a high performance car that is totally fun and it is fast. I am just through the 600 mile break in phase and am looking forward to upping the revs. The mileage is about 23 all around but I have not been concerned. The 13 gallon tank last about 2 week. The most fantastic thing about this car is the electronics and displays. The nav is fully integrated in the touch screen and with gauges in the dash. Make sure you talk to a salesman who knows the car. I have no regrets and do not miss the big Mercedes. Good luck!

Features & Specs

See all Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf R features & specs

Safety

Our experts like the Golf R models:

VW Car-Net
Helps you connect with emergency services in case of a breakdown.
Front Assist
Warns you if you're in danger of rear-ending the car in front and applies the brakes if you don't.
Automatic Post-Collision Braking System
Automatically applies the brakes after a collision has occurred to prevent additional impacts.

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover13.4%

More about the 2018 Volkswagen Golf R

Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf R Overview

The Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf R is offered in the following submodels: Golf R Hatchback. Available styles include 2.0T w/DCC and Navigation 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), and 2.0T w/DCC and Navigation 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM).

What's a good price on a Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf R?

Price comparisons for Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf R trim styles:

  • The Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf R 2.0T w/DCC and Navigation is priced between $35,985 and$36,360 with odometer readings between 9911 and31662 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2018 Volkswagen Golf RS are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2018 Volkswagen Golf R for sale near. There are currently 2 used and CPO 2018 Golf RS listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $35,985 and mileage as low as 9911 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2018 Volkswagen Golf R.

Can't find a used 2018 Volkswagen Golf Rs you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Volkswagen Golf R for sale - 1 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $9,447.

Find a used Volkswagen for sale - 4 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $19,791.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen Golf R for sale - 5 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $11,116.

Find a used certified pre-owned Volkswagen for sale - 9 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $22,301.

Should I lease or buy a 2018 Volkswagen Golf R?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Volkswagen lease specials
Check out Volkswagen Golf R lease specials