I picked up my 2018 Golf R at LAX, and the weather was completely spectacular. It would hold up for the two days I was in the City of Angels.
The car was sharp with a "Lapiz Blue Metallic" exterior and a "Titan Black" leather interior. For s sporty car, the Golf R in this tailoring was downright conservative.
I got to test the cargo capacity right away.
The Golf R has about 23 cubic feet without the rear seats dropped. With the rears down, that capacity more than doubles. Such is life with a hatchback! You have ample space for stuff.
I settled in to hit some of my favorite roads.
The Golf R is a nice looking set of wheels, but it isn't a head-turner.
For the sake of comparison, here's a Golf from a couple of generations back. Not a car that's change much!
But why mess with a good thing?
The Golf is, in many respects, the ur-hatchback. If you want a compact hatch, chances are you'll be checking out this VW. Note the integrated spoiler above the backlight.
The dual exhaust pipes and the modest "R" are among the few indications that this Golf has a bit more oomph under the hood.
My tester came with some cool 19-inch allow wheels and some high-performance summer rubber. It was sunny SoCal after all!
Yep, it's an R. You could be forgiven for not noticing.
The LED headlights frame a VW logo that hasn't changed ... well, ever.
Why don't we look under the hood?
Here we find an outstanding 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine, making 288 horsepower with 285 pound-feet of torque. The 0-60 mph run is achieved in about six seconds, and fuel economy is fine: 22 mpg city/29 highway/25 combined.
My test car came with a seven-speed automatic transmission that sent power smoothly and briskly to the all-wheel-drive system. Automanual mode is available, and a six-speed stick can also be had.
Driving modes are Eco, Comfort, Normal, Race, and Custom (the last allows you to configure steering, suspension, throttle and so on, to your liking).
The inside is as unassuming as the outside.
The back seat is ... not large.
I'm 5'-7" and I struggled to squeeze my legs in.
The "R" branding and the cream piping is about all the heat you get inside this hot hatch.
No fooln' around with the basic, analog-digital instrument cluster, either. VW calls it a "digital cockpit."
That's a teeny R logo on the steering wheel. The front seats, by the way, are heated. They're also comfortable for commuting, but also supportive enough the deal with spirited driving.
The Golf R's infotainment system isn't anything fancy, but it gets the job done. I used GPS navigation to deal with the complicated orienteering challenge that is the LA area, and there are USB/AUX ports to connect devices, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
There's a small suite of apps, and the eight-inch touchscreen is responsive. There's also a working CD player!
The Golf R's secret weapon: a fantastic Fender Premium audio system.