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Long-term review

VW Golf R Mk8 – long-term review

£40,025 / £48,450 as tested / £390 pcm
Published: 08 Feb 2022


  • SPEC

    Golf R Performance Pack



  • BHP


  • 0-62


The two tiny Golf R details that should be on EVERY hot Golf

The Golf R’s steering wheel is not a qualified success. It’s too thick for my taste, and the haptic buttons simply don’t work well enough. 

However, I can and do appreciate it’s home to two small details that should be fitted to all the hot Golfs – the GTI, the Clubsport and even the GTD – but aren’t. For no reason I can think of. 

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The first are the paddles. They’re still fixed to the steering wheel, but in the R you get long bladelike flappy paddles. They’re plastic, which doesn’t feel very expensive, and their action is nothing to write home about. But just the look of them adds a bit of intent, a dash of ‘I’m a serious car’ that’s really missing in the dull, dreary cabins of the GTI and co. 

I find myself using the paddles in the R quite a bit to stubbornly override the seven-speed DSG’s haphazard shift mapping, so it’s nice to be able to grab a proper paddle, rather than the usual ribbed credit card VW normally opts for. 

The second one is the ‘R’ button on the left-hand steering wheel spoke. In a GTI or a Clubsport, this is merely blank glossy plastic. A nothing button. But in the R, this button cycles through the car’s driving modes. 

Useful, as the R has an incredibly annoying habit of defaulting into Sport mode every single time it’s switched on. Used Comfort mode to negotiate a tricky car park festooned with tight turns and nadgety speed bumps? Tough. As soon as you arrive back at the car, it’s decided you want Sport mode again. 

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Stopped midway through a Nürburgring mode fang to top up with petrol? Well, now you’re in Sport mode sunshine, and it’s a trip into the rubbish touchscreen for you. 

At least with the ‘R’ button, a few taps (quite a few, since the haptic feedback is quite incredibly useless) shuffles the car back into Individual, where I like it, with an angry engine and softened suspension. Why no other Golfs have this feature – which would cost nothing to add – I can’t imagine. But then I have no idea what the people who designed this interior were thinking half the time anyway.

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