2019 Volkswagen Golf R

#34
in Midsize hatchbacks
2019 MODEL

$40,395 - $41,495

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Detailed Review

The Golf is one of those cars which Volkswagen can never afford to get wrong. It has been a bench mark in the hot-hatch segment for a long time and it was refreshed for 2018. Come 2019, the Golf R has now been introduced with 40 new quirky colors but of course the Golf is much more than that.

The Golf R is powered by a 2.0L, Turbocharged, 4-cylinder engine producing 288 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox or an optional 7-speed dual clutch DSG gearbox driving all four wheels. You’d have to shell out $40,395 for the Golf R and that’s just the starting price.

The Golf R is joined by its sister car, the Golf GTI to give it some competition. Also joining the bandwagon are the Honda Civic Type R and the Subaru WRX STI which are also very competitive performance cars in this segment. Let’s see how the competition rolls.


The Golf is one of those cars which Volkswagen can never afford to get wrong. It has been a bench mark in the hot-hatch segment for a long time and it was refreshed for 2018. Come 2019, the Golf R has now been introduced with 40 new quirky colors but of course the Golf is much more than that.

The Golf R is powered by a 2.0L, Turbocharged, 4-cylinder engine producing 288 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox or an optional 7-speed dual clutch DSG gearbox driving all four wheels. You’d have to shell out $40,395 for the Golf R and that’s just the starting price.

The Golf R is joined by its sister car, the Golf GTI to give it some competition. Also joining the bandwagon are the Honda Civic Type R and the Subaru WRX STI which are also very competitive performance cars in this segment. Let’s see how the competition rolls.

2019 Volkswagen Golf R Features

The Golf R just comes in a single trim and that is the 2.0T. It has a 2.0L turbocharged engine which can be mated to a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed dual clutch DSG gearbox. All-wheel drive comes as standard.

Trim

2.0T

MSRP

$40,395

Key Features

Digital cockpit LCD gauge cluster

 

LED headlights and taillights and daytime running lights

 

45 exterior color options

 

Leather seats

 

Bigger brakes that are optional in the GTI are standard here

 

DCC (Dynamic Chassis Control)

 

Apple and Android smartphone integration

 

12-way power driver's seat

 

Eight-speaker Fender audio system

 

Passive keyless entry

 

Heated front seats

 

Backup camera

 

Rear spoiler

 

19-inch wheels blackened Alloy wheels

We’d Recommend:

There is just one trim to choose from but there are several ways to configure your Golf R. If you are the purist, you would want to choose the 6-speed manual and good news is that it’s great. If you do not have such biasness, the upgrade to the DSG is really worth it. It shifts very quick, gives better performance off the line is a little more fuel economical. Another feature worth opting for is the DCC which Dynamic Chassis Control which enhances the performance even further.

2019 Volkswagen Golf R Engine

“You'd never know by looking at it, but the Golf R provides remarkable real-world performance for a variety of drivers. The all-wheel-drive system makes the power easy to harness and adds stability in wet weather.” - Edmunds

Models

Honda Civic Type R

Subaru WRX STI

Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf R

MSRP

$35,700

$36,595

$27,595

$40,395

Engine

2.5L, Turbocharged, Inline-4

2.5L, Turbocharged, Boxer-4

2.0L, Turbocharged Inline-4

2.0L Turbocharged inline-4

Transmission

6 Speed manual

6-speed manual

6-speed manual/7-speed dual clutch

7-speed dual clutch automatic

Horsepower

[email protected]

310hp @6000 rpm

228 hp @ 4700 rpm

[email protected] 5400 rpm

Torque

295 [email protected]

290 lb.-ft. @4000 rpm

258 ft-lbs. @ 1500 rpm

280 lb.-ft. @ 1800rpm

The Golf R is powered by a 2.0L, Turbocharged, Inline-4 cylinder engine that churns out 288 hp @ 5,400 rpm and 280 lb-ft of torque at 1,800 rpm. The most notable thing about it, is its sound. The growly engine note with pops and crackles tickles you at the right places. Throttle inputs are rewarded with a glorious surges of power from quite low in the rev range. The engine loves to rev anyway. There is lots of power on tap to keep the car on its feet all the time. It pulls like its tail is on fire.

There are two gearboxes available on the Golf R – standard 6-speed manual or an optional 7-speed DSG. Both gearboxes are a breeze. In the manual, the clutch is easy and light, well-spaced, the shifter feels good to use and slots into gears precisely. It really gives you the joy of stick shifting like you’d want to enjoy.

The 7-speed DSG has always been a great gearbox. It’s very quick and responsive. There are paddle shifters for manual control which are also a joy to tap on. The Golf R is of course faster with the DSG gearbox and it helps with the fuel economy as well. In race mode, the shifts are even more aggressive and instantaneous.

When compared to its rivals, the Golf R is competitively powered. However, the Gold GTI which is actually its sibling might seem underpowered. However the point with the GTI is that it promises almost similar levels of performance while still being quite practical. All cars have a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed dual clutch transmission.

Acceleration

Models

Honda Civic Type R

Subaru WRX STI

Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf R

0-60 MPH

5 sec

5.7 sec

6.0 sec*

4.5

Quarter mile

13.7 sec

14.1

14.5 sec*

13.4

Engine

2.5L

2.5 L

2.0L

2.0L

Emission

(Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)

7.1

NA

6.5

NA

The Golf R is very quick off the line. It just takes 4.5 seconds to shoot to 60 mph with the DSG gearbox. The all-wheel drive system along with the very efficient launch control system are to be credited for that ridiculously fast time for a hot-hatch. It is the fastest in the competition and really feels like so. The launch control system is easy to engage and the grip levels from the four-wheel drive system are commendable.

Ride and Handling

The Golf R handles like a dream. It has the perfect balance between a comfortable ride quality and sporty handling. There are five drive modes to choose from – Eco, Normal, Sport, Race and Custom. Depending on the mode you are in, the DCC (Dynamic Chassis Control) adapts the suspension by taking inputs from the wheel sensors and front and rear acceleration sensors to optimize the damping forces on each wheel individually.

The ride remains composed and supple in the comfort mode and the car would soak up most bumps quite easily. Dial up to the ‘race’ mode and you’d be surprised how well the car changes character. It remains superbly planted through fast corners with great body stability. The all-wheel drive system is brilliant is ensuring grip levels at each point in time. It is mostly front biased but could send all 100% power to the rear wheels if need be. It really brings out the fun character of the car.

The steering is predictable, sharp and precise and adequately weighted at every speed. It weighs up at higher speeds and remains light and easy at low speeds which makes it a great daily driver. There is great feedback from the steering wheel. You could chuck it into a corner and you would always know where its going. The fact that it’s so predictable makes it very easy but fun to drive.

Braking

Models

Honda Civic Type R

Subaru WRX STI

Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf R

Brake Front (in.)

13.8

13

13.4

13.4

Brake Rear (in.)

12

12.2

12.2

12.2

Curb Weight (lbs.)

3117

3391

3062

3300

70-0 MPH (ft.)

142

*156

174*

159

The larger brakes that are optional on the GTI come as standard on the Golf R. It takes 159 ft to come to a dead stop from 70 mph which though not best in the class, is quite good indeed for this class. The brake pedal is adequately firm and has a good feeling and provides a good bite everytime. The car remains composed under hard braking as well.

2019 Volkswagen Golf R Fuel Economy

Models

Honda Civic Type R

Subaru WRX STI

Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf R

MPG (city)

22

17

24

21

MPG (highway)

28

22

32

29

MPG (combined)

25

19

27

24

The Golf R has pretty decent fuel economy for a hot hatch. It returns 24 miles to the gallon combined which is not the best in class but certainly not far behind. Its sister car, the Golf GTI has the best fuel economy figures because of its lower power.

2019 Volkswagen Golf R Interior

“As we've come to expect from the entire Golf family, the top-spec R model has a handsome but functional interior with excellent fit and finish, attractive materials, and tastefully upscale accents.” – Car and Driver

Design

The interiors too carry the same idea of simplicity and neatness. It hasn’t changed much over the years except for the infotainment screen growing larger. The design is familiar with an 8-inch infotainment screen in the center of the dashboard. The AC vents and the climate controls sit on top and bottom of the screen respectively.

Fit and finish of the interiors are really nice although there are some cheap bits of plastics used here and there. The big highlight in the Golf R is the virtual instrument cluster which comes as standard. It is very configurable and looks quite cool indeed. It’s a pretty comfortable cabin to spend time in, especially with the engine sound that is amplified into the cabin in race mode.

Seating

Models

Honda Civic Type R

Subaru WRX STI

Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf R

Passenger capacity

4

5

5

5

Front (cu.ft)

Head room

39.3

39.8

38

38.4

Shoulder room

56.9

55.6

56

55.9

Leg room

42.3

43.3

41.2

41.2

Rear (cu.ft)

Head room

37.4

37.1

38

38.1

Shoulder room

55

54.2

54

53.9

Leg room

35.9

35.4

35.6

35.6

The seats in the Golf R are quite comfortable. The seats have good bolstering and hold you quite well and are heated as well. The rear seats have central arm rests and AC vents as well. However, legroom in the rear seats are a little low compared to its rivals but the seats themselves are very comfortable. Also, seating five may be a problem because the central tunnel is quite high.

Infotainment System

The infotainment system is pretty easy to use. The screen size is 8-inches with really good graphics. It has all the features you’d ever require in present times including a surround view camera system. The system is a touch screen unit and it responds to commands adequately without any delay. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay comes as standard which is a great boon.

The virtual cockpit in the instrument cluster is controlled through buttons on the steering wheel. They can be configured to show vehicle information or even navigation. The infotainment system also has a feature which shows boost pressure, power usage and even a G-force meter.

Cargo Capacity

Models

Honda Civic Type R

Subaru WRX STI

Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf R

Cargo Capacity

26

12

17.4

22.8

The Golg GTI does not have the largest cargo area. In fact, its cargo area is even lesser than the one in the GTI because the all-wheel drive system sits on the rear axle and eats up some boot space. Still, its large enough to pack in three to four large bags quite easily.

2019 Volkswagen Golf R Exterior

“The Golf R, like the GTI, is an understated car. But it’s this subtlety that makes the top-end R model so visually appealing. It doesn't need a big, shouty wing or dramatic red accents – it’s secure in its level of performance without resorting to such primitive automotive threat gestures.” – Motor1

Design

The Golf GTI is a smart looking car, yet quite understated about the performance it packs. It looks very similar to the GTI, save some minor changes. The new LED headlamps are sharp and distinct. The bumper is little different from the one in the GTI. It’s deeper, does not have the fog lamps and look more subtle yet smarter than the one in the GTI.

The side profile remains very simple and plain but the 19-inch wheels add some contrast to the design. The blackened 19-inch wheels have been very tastefully designed. The standard 18-ones look great too. The rear of the car also remains fairly simple with LED tail lamps, quad exhaust pipes instead of two like in the GTI and there’s a mild diffuser as well. Save from the R badges all around and the aggressive bumper, it’s much understated about the design.

It has the classic Golf like look and the designers haven’t messed around much with it. Honestly, we like it that way. Bearing clean lines and a neat profile, the Golf will always remain a classy hot-hatch.

Exterior Dimensions

Models

Honda Civic Type R

Subaru WRX STI

Volkswagen Golf GTI

Volkswagen Golf R

Curb weight (lbs.)

3117

3391

3062

3300

Length(in)

179.4

180.9

168.0

168.4

Width(in)

73.9

70.7

70.8

70.8

Height(in)

56.5

58.1

57.8

56.5

Ground clearance (in)

5.1

4.9

5.1

4.8

Wheelbase (in)

106.3

104.3

103.6

103.5

Track width (in) F/R

63/62.7

60.2/60.2

60.6/59.7

60.7/59.7

The Golf GTI is pretty compact with its dimensions. It differs from the GTI only by small amounts. It’s a little longer than the GTI, lesser in height, sits lower as well and has almost the same wheelbase. The Civic Type R and the Subaru WRX STI are quite bigger than the Golf R but the R greatly benefit with its nimble handling due to such compact dimensions.

Exterior Features

  • LED Daytime Running Lights
  • Chrome strip visually connects the headlights to a revised grille
  • R-painted brake calipers
  • Unique mesh pattern grille
  • Bespoke R wheels
  • Subtle side skirts
  • Quad exhaust pipes
  • Unique rear diffuser
  • Rear Spoiler

2019 Volkswagen Golf R Safety

The 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI has not been tested by either NHTSA or IIHS and we cannot offer you their ratings yet. However, the Golf GTI is well loaded with quite a lot of safety features and that is quite reassuring. The 2018 model of the Golf GTI had received a 5 star rating from the NHTSA, particularly because of the exterior design which can absorb collisions really well.

Safety Features

  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring (Front Assist)
  • Blind Spot Monitor
  • Rear Traffic Alert
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
  • Lane Keeping System (Lane Assist)
  • Park Distance Control
  • Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist)
  • High Beam Control (Light Assist)

2019 Volkswagen Golf R Competition

Volkswagen Golf R vs Honda Civic Type R

The Honda Civic Type R is an extremely capable car. Yes, you may not be fond of it’s over styling but you certainly cannot miss it. It’s surprising how it can balance between sporty handling and comfortable ride so drastically. The engine is powerful and it pulls like a beast. However it does not sound quite as good as you’d think. It’s a great track machine.

The Golf R on the other hand is a great daily driver that has equal amounts of performance. It’s much understated inside out than the Type R and is much easier to live with every day. The choice comes down to your preference. If you want a sporty and fun daily driver with lots of practicality, it’s the Golf R but you’d have to pay some more for that. If you want drama, outright performance and still save some money, it’s the Civic Type R.

Volkswagen Golf R vs Subaru WRX STI

The Subaru WRX STI is a thoroughbred rally car. It has extremely capable driving dynamics and its all-wheel drive gives you great traction off the road. It looks like a proper old-school sports sedan with that huge wing. The interiors are functional but do not feel much special.

It also has a very stiff suspension, low fuel economy, less cargo space and the cabin isn’t as refined as a lot of noises seem to filter through. The WRX STI is a pretty performance focused car. If that is your only priority, the WRX STI is a great buy. For every other person, the Golf R is the best every day car that also promises bucket loads of thrill. You wouldn’t mind paying some bit extra for all the things more you can do with this car.

Volkswagen Golf R vs Volkswagen Golf GTI

The Golf R and the Golf GTI are essentially the same cars except that the engine in the Golf R produces some more power and hence performance is better. There is very little visual difference, the interiors are the same, and the handling characteristics are the same too in that they both are great daily drivers balancing both worlds very well.

However, in spite of the extra power and performance that the Golf R packs in, it does not justify such a hefty premium over the GTI of around $13,000. The GTI already is all the car one should need and while the Golf R does it better, it is not worth so much money. The Golf GTI is the better buy among the two as it’s very usable and really very satisfying.

2019 Volkswagen Golf R Final Verdict

The Volkswagen Golf just keeps getting better and better and with the Golf R, it satisfies every petrol head who wants to keep it subtle in front of Mommy but when she’s not looking, you know what beast you have in your hands. The sound from that 2.0L, turbocharged engine is really sweet and boy, does it handle like a dream.

Honestly, if you buy this car, you wouldn’t need any other car. But so is the case with the Golf GTI and in fact, it costs far lesser. Probably it does not quite justify the premium over the GTI but the performance will put a smile on your face every time and you could still live with it daily. If money was not a concern, the Volkswagen Golf R is every bit worth it.

Pros

Lots of power from a very sweet sounding engine

Superb handling with adaptive suspension

Good quality interiors with virtual cockpit

6-speed manual or DSG gearbox, both are amazing

Cons

It’s quite expensive over the Golf GTI

What's New?

No major changes


Features

vehicle bio

base price

$40395

bodystyle

4dr Hatchback

passenger capacity

5

drivetrain

AWD

engine type

horsepower

288 hp @ 5400 rpm

torque

280 lb.-ft. @ 1800 rpm

transmission

6-speed manual

chassis

suspension front

Independent strut suspension w/anti-roll bar

suspension rear

Independent multi-link suspension w/anti-roll bar

dimensions

wheelbase

103.5 in.

length

168.4 in.

width

70.8 in.

height

56.5 in.

curb weight

3300 lbs.

ground clearance

4.8 in.

capacity

passenger volume

93.5 cu ft.

cargo volume

22.8 cu ft.

payload capacity

959 lbs.

fuel economy

city/combined/highway

21/24/29 mpg

highway range

420.5 mi.

warranty

basic warranty

6 years/72000 miles

drivetrain warranty

6 years/72000 miles

corrosion warranty

12 years/unlimited

roadside assistance

yes



Styles

 2019 Volkswagen Golf R in Tornado Red color  2019 Volkswagen Golf R in Oryx White Pearl color  2019 Volkswagen Golf R in Lapiz Blue Metallic color  2019 Volkswagen Golf R in Indium Gray Metallic color  2019 Volkswagen Golf R in Deep Black Pearl color
Tornado Red

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Trims and Configurations

MSRP


 2019 Volkswagen Golf R 2.0T w/DCC and Navigation

2.0T w/DCC and Navigation

power
288 hp @ 5400 rpm
fuel
Premium unleaded (recommended)
mpg
26 combined

$40,395 - $41,495


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
2.0T w/DCC and Navigation 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M) Starting at $40,395 MSRP (21 mpg/24/29 mpg) 288 hp @ 5400 rpm, 2 L, I4, premium unleaded (recommended)
See Full Specs
6-speed manual all wheel drive 5 NA
2.0T w/DCC and Navigation 4dr Hatchback AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM) Starting at $41,495 MSRP (23 mpg/26/30 mpg) 288 hp @ 5400 rpm, 2 L, I4, premium unleaded (recommended)
See Full Specs
7-speed automated manual all wheel drive 5 NA