The all-new Mk8 Volkswagen Golf R has been revealed as the most powerful production Golf ever, with 235kW, a manual option for specific markets, and the latest tech the company has to offer.

    Update: 5/11/2020, 8:30am: New details for the Golf R have been revealed following the European media announcement. See article for details

    Due to go on sale locally early in 2022, the new Golf R continues to be powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, now developing 235kW (315 HP) and 420Nm (from 2100 to 5350rpm) – up from the 221kW and 400Nm of the current European model and 213kW/380Nm of Australian versions.

    Thanks to the added traction of 4Motion all-wheel drive, Volkswagen claims the new Golf R can sprint from 0-100km/h in 4.7 seconds (DSG) on its way to a top speed of 250km/h (155mph). With the optional R Performance Package available on European models, the derestricted top speed stands at a claimed 270km/h.

    A six-speed manual will be standard in select markets like North America – a win for enthusiasts – though a seven-speed is DSG standard for Europe and likely the only option for Australia when it arrives in 2022.

    The 4Motion all-wheel drive system now gets torque vectoring on the rear axle, dubbed R-Performance Torque Vectoring, allowing up to 100 per cent of available torque to be transferred to the outside wheel during cornering. This means the Golf R can shuffle power not only between the front and rear axles, but now also variably between the left and right rear wheels.

    Volkswagen says the Mk8 Golf R’s Vehicle Dynamics Manager has been revised to monitor the all-wheel drive system for the first time, adapting torque distribution and individual wheel damping up to 200 times a second to deliver “particularly agile and accurate handling”, while also controlling features like the front electronic differential lock and adaptive damper system.

    Additionally on the front axle, the Golf R also brakes the inside wheel to further reduce understeer.

    Standard variable-ratio steering helps weigh up feel under hard cornering, and there’s a new ‘R’ button on the steering wheel to take the driver straight to the selectable drive mode selection, or ‘Race’ mode directly with a more “forceful” press.

    New drive modes debut for the Mk8, including ‘Special’ and ‘Drift’ profiles in addition to the usual ‘Comfort’, ‘Sport’, ‘Race’ and ‘Individual’ modes.

    Like the new GTI Clubsport, the ‘Special’ mode tailors the Golf R’s mechanicals for track driving – honed on the legendary Nurburgring Nordschleife – which softens the dampers to “maintain maximum contact with the road on the undulating Nordschleife”. Automatic downshifts for the DSG transmission also “complement braking ahead of corners” in this mode.

    According to Volkswagen, the Mk8 Golf R claims a lap time of 7 minutes 51 seconds around the famed Nurburgring Nordschleife. While that’s marginally slower than the Mk7 GTI Clubsport S (7 minutes 49.21 seconds), the new Golf R’s claimed lap time is a claimed 19 seconds quicker than its predecessor.

    Meanwhile, the new ‘Drift’ mode – which VW stresses is for track use only – changes the stability control to its ESC Sport setting and tailors the all-wheel drive system’s power distribution. Volkswagen hasn’t disclosed just how much torque is directed to the rear in this mode, however.

    Under the skin, spring rates and anti-roll bar rates have been increased by 10 per cent compared to its predecessor, along with increased negative camber on the front axle by a little over one degree which helps to enhance stability at high cornering speeds.

    From the outside, the new Golf R gets a new front bumper with specific air intakes and a “motorsport-style splitter”, accented with gloss-black elements and an LED strip that joins the headlights through the top of the front grille.

    Filling the arches are standard 19-inch alloy wheels, and there’s model-specific side skirts, matte-chrome side mirrors with ‘R’ logo projection, blue brake calipers with ‘R’ branding, and a new rear bumper with high-gloss black diffuser.

    There’s larger front brakes (358 x 33mm) with two-piston aluminium calipers, the latter reducing mass by 60 per cent per side.

    A larger roof spoiler adds extra downforce at the rear, and there’s the R’s signature quad tailpipes sticking out the diffuser. There’s a standard chrome-plated sports exhaust detailed in the US press release, though the European model in the accompanying images features an Akrapovic-branded system that appears to have a titanium finish – like what was available in the outgoing Mk7.5 model.

    Inside, the Golf R picks up the Mk8 Golf’s digital-heavy cockpit as expected.

    A 10.0-inch ‘Discover Pro’ central touchscreen controls infotainment, while a 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit configurable instrument cluster sits ahead of the driver. Both displays come with tailored graphics and menus specific to the R.

    There’s nappa leather sports seats up front with carbon-look detailing and blue accents in the sides, as well as a blue R logo embroidered on the backrest.

    Drivers are treated to a new leather-wrapped multifunction sports steering wheel with heating, blue contrast steering, dedicated ‘R’ drive mode button, touch-capacitive controls with haptic feedback and wheel-mounted DSG paddles.

    Rounding out the cabin appointments are a carbon-look dash insert, R-specific door trims, brushed stainless steel pedals and driver footrest, along with 30-colour LED ambient cabin lighting.

    Further details and images should be released when the European press kit goes live later today. Stay tuned to CarExpert for all the latest.

    Do you like the look of the Mk8 Volkswagen Golf R? Let us know in the comments below

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    James Wong

    James Wong is the Production Editor at CarExpert based in Melbourne, Australia. With experience on both media and manufacturer sides of the industry, James has a specialty for product knowledge which stems from a life-long obsession with cars. James is a Monash University journalism graduate, an avid tennis player, and the proud charity ambassador for Drive Against Depression – an organisation that supports mental wellness through the freedom of driving and the love of cars. He's also the proud father of Freddy, a 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI .

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