What should I be paying?
The Golf R will be pretty painless to live with. How can we be so unequivocal with our praise? Simple: Top Gear ran a Golf R DSG five-door on our long-term test car fleet for eight months and 14,000 miles. It was unimpeachably tough, reliable and easy-going. Aside from one coolant warning sensor meltdown on an unusually hot day – swiftly rectified by some very impressive VW dealer service - the Golf R was a rock. Oil use, tyre wear and trim quality all held up to some very unforgiving miles. It averaged 25mpg in town and 34mpg on the motorway.
There are a few spec variations to be aware of. In 2017, the Golf R was facelifted, gaining standard LED front lights and a power bump from 296bhp to 306bhp. You won’t notice it. Just as well really, because in 2019 emissions regulations forced VW to detune the car by 10bhp.
The Performance Pack was a rare option, adding a rorty Akrapovic exhaust system and bigger brakes that still aren’t quite as bitey as we’d have liked. It was only available on the DSG model, which was the most popular model, outselling the manual by a margin of around 52 to 48 per cent. Upgrading from 18-inch to 19-inch rims was a popular option, as was leather upholstery. The winter pack (a £300 extra) is a good find, adding heated seats and heated washer jets.
Beware, however, that it’s not only hot hatch fans that have grown to appreciate the R’s subtlety, easy-access performance and sheer ubiquity. It’s consistently one of the most ‘popular’ stolen cars, especially thanks to its optional keyless entry and start. Insurance rates will be lofty as a result, due to the car’s horrendous reputation for being stolen to order for participation in nefarious deeds. If you’re not garaging yours, a tracker is a sensible add-on. And a steering lock. Or at the very least, a very pungent air-freshner.