Flash Drive

2018 VW GOLF R

Model Tested: 2018 VW Golf R

The 2018 VW Golf R is a subtly styled compact sedan that’s capable of running with flashy muscle cars.

Engine:2.0-liter turbocharged I-4, 292 horsepower, 280 lb-ft torque

Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive

EPA Rating: 22-mpg city, 29-mpg highway, 25-mpg combined

Base Price: $40,885

As Tested: $41,735


Great turbocharged engine

Good acceleration in Normal mode

Aggressive acceleration in Sport, Race, or Custom modes

This is the view most challengers will see. The “R” mods and badging are easy to miss, but the car’s performance isn’t.

Comfort and Eco modes also available

Very versatile character depending on selected engine mode

Substantial exhaust note differences with modes changes

7-speed dual clutch transmission with paddle shifters

6-speed manual transmission also available

4MOTION all-wheel-drive

Exhilarating handling on twisty roads

19-inch alloy wheels

Good fuel economy possible—our best was 34.1-mpg highway

The 2018 Golf R has outstanding driver and front passenger space and comfort.

Great high tech safety features

Adaptive front lighting

Parking distance control

Blind spot and lane departure warnings


Quality interior materials, leather seating surfaces

Highly supportive performance bucket seats

Driver power lumbar support; manual passenger lumbar

Three temperatures heated seats

The leather-trimmed steering wheel has a flat bottom and good auxiliary controls. Automatic equipped models have paddle shifters.

Stretch-out front legroom

Large aluminum dead pedal

Great flat-bottomed leather steering wheel

Good range tilt/telescopic steering column

Tight back seat unless front seats are moved up

Tall, wide rear floor hump

Adjustable height shoulder harnesses


OK flat cargo area behind rear seat

The Golf R is a hatchback with good cargo space and a flat cargo deck.

Handy hatch opens high for tall people

Split folding rear seats have slight incline

Adequate interior small items storage

Medium size front door bins

Large glovebox, but no lock

Big seatback pouches

WOW Factors:

Excellent engine and chassis

Exciting performance, but also comfortable

Multi-purpose personality

The handsome wheels are 19-inch alloys. The “R” fender badging is discreet.

Booming sound system

Attractive color choices


Auto stop/start wasn’t very smooth

Extremely subtle badging—both good and/or bad

Bottom Line:

The 2018 Volkswagen Golf R is a subtly styled compact sedan with performance that’s anything but subtle. The Golf R is a high performance sleeper compared to wildly winged competitors. The vastly different engine/chassis modes make the Golf R a great car for any reason or season.