Test Drive: 2018 Volkswagen Golf R
Changes have been made to the Golf R for 2018, but fans of VW’s all-wheel-drive performance hatchback needn’t worry: it hasn’t sacrificed any of its awesome performance capabilities in the pursuit of improved fuel economy, comfort, and safety.
“A performance car that also happens to be a practical hatchback.”
Significant upgrades for 2018 include an optional seven-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (replacing the six-speed DSG); an automatic stop-start system to save fuel when stopped at traffic lights; brighter, energy-saving LED headlights and taillights; and a revised front bumper design with larger air inlets. As well, the Golf R’s standard Front Assist (automatic collision-mitigation braking) now includes a pedestrian detector.
Also new is a high-resolution 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel; and a revised 8.0-inch centre touchscreen with better graphics and more touch controls. And thankfully, traditional volume and seek dials remain.
Our 2018 Volkswagen Golf R test car was bedecked in a beautiful deep purple colour called Violet Touch Pearl – it’s one of 30 optional colours you can order for the rather pricey sum of $2,995. Maybe that’s not such a bad price when you consider that you may own the only Violet Touch Pearl Golf R in town. The pearlescent purple hue is complemented by contrasting black trim in the front grille, vent surrounds, lower sills, side mirrors, and rear diffuser.
Adding to our Golf R’s seductive appearance are new-for-2018 optional Spielberg 19-inch alloy rims with low-profile 235/35R19-inch summer performance tires ($250 option). We’re pretty sure this combination of Spielberg rims and purple pearlescent paint were the main reason this Golf R turned more heads than the Harvest Moon Beige Golf R we tested last year.
Inside the 2018 Golf R, the materials quality and attention to detail remains top-notch: standard “Titan Black” Vienna leather sports seats feature grey piping, grey stitching, speckled grey seat inserts, and grey “R” logos embossed in the upper seatbacks (grey appears to have replaced the blue accents in the Golf R while blue has migrated over to the e-Golf). The driver’s seat has 12 power adjustments and prominent thigh and side bolsters to keep you snug in the seats during spirited cornering; however, they make getting in and out a little more challenging.
Behind the R’s leather-wrapped, thick-rimmed, flat-bottom sport steering wheel is a new 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. It’s brighter than the previous models’ analogue gauges and mimics the traditional-looking analogue tachometer and speedometer with liquid crystal displays. Between them is a central information display with multiple menus and sub-menus to provide the driver with useful information such as fuel economy, distance to empty, digital speedometer, audio selection, navigation map, vehicle safety systems, and more. Toggling between the screens is easy to do with the buttons on the right steering wheel spoke.