• First Look 2021 Golf R

First Look: 2021 Volkswagen Golf R

It won't hit our streets until late 2021, and pricing won't be released until closer to that date.

Jim Kenzie By: Jim Kenzie November 5, 2020

The hottest variant of the eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf, the Golf R, has been officially unveiled.

It won’t hit our streets until late 2021, and pricing won’t be released until closer to that date. Knowing that the last one started just over $40k and topped out just under $50k should give you a clue.

Based obviously on the Golf that was launched late last year, it will be powered by the most powerful production VeeDub four-banger yet, the well-known EA888 (evo4) 2.0 litre turbocharged four, now producing 315 horsepower, 27 more than the previous generation Golf R. No r.p.m. figure was given for that peak power rating; given that the engine generates 310 lb-ft of torque (an increase of 30 lb -ft) from a low 2,100 r.p.m. all the way to 5,350 r.p.m., you probably won’t need to hit the red line – well, ever. This pretty much defines the term “torque plateau” – that’s hardly a “curve”.

To it is bolted your choice of a six-speed manual transmission – still, chosen by some 40 per cent of Canadian buyers – or seven-speed dual-clutch manu-matic.

Only a four-door hatchback model will be offered.

To make sure your neighbours know you paid more for your Golf than they did for theirs, the new R continues with a unique trim, such as an intake air splitter in the lower front bumper and “R” badging here and there. An LED strip above the grille lights up when the engine starts, to cover off the requirement for daytime running lights. But being a safe driver, you will always turn on your full lights, front and rear, all the time, day or night.

Unique road wheels and side skirts highlight the profile, and a rear diffuser with twin tail pipes will be the view most other drivers will get of your car.

You can have any colour you want as long as it’s “Lapiz Blue Metallic” (VW calls this the “signature” colour for this car), “Pure White” or “Deep Black Pearl Effect”.

First Look 2021 Golf R

The last time I drove a Golf R, I just couldn’t get comfortable in it – the seats just didn’t fit me. As a multiple VW owner, this was a huge surprise because normally the seats are perfect. We’ll see when we get a chance to drive this one. Suspension is MacSturt front, multi-link rear. Spring rates and anti-sway bar rates are both upped by 10 per cent, and the suspension is lowered by 20 mm compared to other Golfs.

Golf R gets a new full-time four-wheel drive system with torque vectoring, called 4MOTION in VW-Speak. The centre differential variably splits drive torque to the front and rear axles depending on how much each can handle. The trick here is that the clever rear differential can direct up to 100 per cent of the rearward torque to either rear wheel. Thus, each individual wheel gets as much torque as it can effectively transmit to the road surface. Like the late lamented Ford Focus RS, this system can also detect understeer in a corner, and direct additional torque to the outside rear wheel to nose the car into the bend.

As before with previous Golf R models, you can choose the driving mode that best suits your mood or conditions: Comfort, Sport, and Race modes are self-explanatory. Each sets throttle response and various other parameters to suit.
If you don’t like any of these combinations, you can pick your own settings and save them under Individual.

VW is especially proud that final testing of this car took place at the legendary Nordschleife racetrack at the Nurburgring in northwestern Germany. This led to another option in the drive select system called Special, which sets the car up “specially” for that track. Among other things, it actually sets the suspension softer than full-on Race mode, to account for the many undulations in that old track’s surface.

First Look 2021 Golf R

Hey VW – my passport is up-to-date. Ready when you’re are. Failing that, Mosport is but an hour away…

There is also a Drift mode, suggested for track use only. That’s for those show-offs with an unlimited tire budget.

If you go fast, you better be able to stop fast. To this laudable end, Golf R has cross-drilled rotors which are variously described in the press handouts as being 358 mm in diameter and 33 mm thick, or 357 mm in diameter and 34 mm thick. What’s a millimetre or two between friends? Whatever, the front rotors have twin-piston aluminum calipers that transfer heat better and are 60 per cent lighter than before.

The specs suggest the up-coming Golf R will be a worthy heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Golf.

My old Jetta TDI Wagon is getting rather long in the tooth, and with the kids on their own, we don’t really need a wagon as much any more.

Hm-mm – let’s make a deal…