Sam Philip15 September 2009

Frankfurt show: VW Golf R

Covers come off the fastest, most powerful Golf ever: the 266bhp, four-wheel-drive R…

Frankfurt show: VW Golf R

The covers have just come off the new VW Golf R in Frankfurt. Don't be fooled by its understated looks, this is one monstrously fast hot hatch.

It's the fastest Golf ever, in fact, powered by the same 266bhp 2.0-litre turbo engine found in the Audi S3. It'll propel the four-wheel-drive Golf to 62mph in 5.5 seconds if you spec the DSG transmission, or 0.2 seconds slower if you'd prefer a manual ’box.

That's more powerful and quicker than both the front-wheel-drive Scirocco R and indeed the old Golf R32, which had a bigger, heavier 3.2-litre V6. Emissions and economy are both hugely improved on the old R32, consumption falling from 26.4mpg to 33.2mpg, with CO2 emissions down to 199g/km from 225g/km.

Though visual, er, enhancements over the Golf GTI remain subtle - new front and rear bumpers, LED running lights and central exhausts being the most obvious - the suspension has been lowered by 25mm while the ESP has been revised with two additional track settings.

Because of the four-wheel-drive hardware, the Golf R weighs in around 80kg heavier than the GTI, though 35kg lighter than the R32.

Don't expect to see many on the road: VW says it expects to sell just 500 or so Golf Rs per year, with prices starting at around £28,500.

That's a few grand more expensive than the slightly more powerful but similarly quick Focus RS: which one would you take? 

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