New – Volkswagen Golf R

The hot-hatch arms race ramped up another notch today, as photos and information about the latest Golf R were released. The headlines are the promise of 300 PS and a possible 0-60 mph in under 5 seconds.

2014 VW Golf R 001

Volkswagen seems to be putting all the attention grabbing emphasis on the mechanical, as the outside of the new R seems rather understated. To the untrained eye, possibly only the chunky five-spoke ‘Cadiz’ alloy wheels mark VW’s latest super hatch out as something special. At the rear, the four oval exhaust tailpipes differentiate it from the GTI, although they’re hardly huge in diameter. Compared to its class rivals of the Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG, or BMW M135i, the Golf R is a paragon of modesty.

2014 VW Golf R 002

The new Golf R clearly intends to be Wolfsburg in sheep’s clothing, however, as it packs significant firepower beneath its subtle bodywork. Using a modified version of the GTI’s EA888 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the R produces 296 bhp and 280 lb-ft of torque – improvements of around 30 bhp and 20 lb-ft over the previous model. Using a Haldex 4Motion four-wheel drive system, the R can slingshot its way from 0-62 mph in an impressive 4.9 seconds when fitted with the six-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox. Stick with the regular manual and you’ll have to contend with a 0-62 mph dash in only 5.3 seconds instead. Both versions retain the same electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

Opting for the DSG gearbox will also help out, marginally, at the petrol station with the dual-clutch version managing an official combined 40.9 mpg. Shifting gears for yourself nets only an official figure of 39.8 mpg – the advantages of being able to tune a DSG ‘box for the EU NEDC testing. Whatever the way the figures are achieved, it does at least highlight a 20% improvement against the previous R on the same combined cycle.

Concept sketches show a five-door.

Concept sketches show a five-door.

Compared to the GTI the R receives a further 5 mm lowering on its unique suspension springs and dampers. Braking is by way of 340 mm discs at the front, with 310 mm sized rotors bringing up the rear; black-painted calipers with ‘R’ logos again maintain the low-key image. Having bucked the trend to fit ever increasingly larger wheels and tyres as standard, the R retains the 225/40 18 setup as found on its predecessor. Larger 19″ versions of the ‘Cadiz’ wheels or, unpictured, motorsport-style ‘Pretoria’ alloys (also in 19″) will be on the options list.

For EngageSportMode, the key test of the new R will be whether it can inject a degree of soul which the previous version lacked slightly. Hopefully a fifth-generation Haldex 4WD system – capable of sending 100% of the power to the rear wheels – combined with the progressive steering system will be able to add that missing element of fun to the R’s sensible image The fact it comes fitted with a Sport mode for the ESC stability control, allowing it to be switched off entirely on track, can only be a good thing in ESM’s eyes

UK pricing is yet to be announced, but with a new GTI starting from just under £26,000, it would be fair to assume that the premium for the R won’t leave a buyer with much change from £30,000 in basic specification. Options such as leather seats instead of the standard cloth/alcantara combination, and the DSG gearbox, will easily push prices over the £30k barrier.

Sales are expected to start in Spring 2014, with the official unveiling of the Golf R set to take place at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show. ESM will bring you more details on the R as they emerge.

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