What it is: The Golf is Volkswagen’s compact car that has come in a variety of body styles for more than 40 years. While you can get a more economy-focused version for as little as $21,000, the R version is the pinnacle of the line. VW is known for its modern interior designs, and that is true in the newest Golf as well. The R is even equipped with VW’s digital dash, which replaces all of the gauges with an LCD screen. It can integrate navigation instructions along with a map in a much more convenient location to glance down to.
The R is powered by VW’s legendary turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0 liter, generating a healthy 288 horsepower. Power is transmitted through a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic. Both are paired with the 4MOTION all-wheel drive system.
VW has also equipped the Golf R with the Dynamic Chassis Control, which allows the damper on each corner to stiffen or loosen to provide a softer or stiffer ride. Throttle input is adjusted as well, and the Golf R can adjust on-the-fly from a comfortable cruiser to a track-ready dynamo.
The result is electric. You feel completely in control and while the car is happy to cruise, it’s ready to carve corners at a moment’s notice. It’s a car that may not have an impressive badge, will surely impress passengers. Black leather seating and a wonderful Dynaudio stereo system pamper occupants.
The Golf R only comes in a four-door hatchback shape, but it’s extremely useful: room for four adults and the flexibility to put the rear seats down and pack in the cargo.
There really aren’t any options available, except for some optional 19-inch black wheels for $235. The one big choice you’ll have is the color. Volkswagen has unlocked a full spectrum of 40 premium paint options for $2,500 on top of the standard few choices. They fall all over the spectrum and include favorites such as Curry Yellow, Irish Green and Traffic Purple. Your local dealer likely won’t have any of these special colors in stock, so you would likely need to order it.
MPG: 22 city/29 highway
Upsides: Does everything well.
Downsides: $40,000 is hard to swallow for a compact car.
I know what you might be thinking; Wilson is a crazy person for trying to sell me on a $40,000 Golf. What it comes down to is that if you were to ask me to choose any smaller car to live with, then this is it. Yes, it is expensive, but it delivers in every single way.