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2023 Volkswagen Golf R Review Singapore

The 2023 Volkswagen Golf R sees a return of the range topping hot hatchback from Volkswagen. Not to be confused with the 1.5 eTSI Golf R-Line, the full fat MK8 Golf R Performance Pack is armed with 315 bhp and 420Nm of torque, producing a 0-100km/h time of 4.7 seconds, making it the hot hatch to have on the market. It is equipped with R sports seats, R front bumper, and Akrapovic exhaust with matt chrome exhaust tips, along with an R-line steering wheel with R mode selector.

Sporty but Unassuming Design

Despite being the hottest hatch of them all, the MK8 Golf R retains a touch of sensibility in its styling and design. In fact, we haven't seen a really crazy Golf R design since its MK5 & MK6 versions, which sported a more brutish front grille and those lovely central exhaust tips.

The MK8 Golf R is actually quite elegant from most angles and does not scream for too much attention when parked. The sportiness is applied in a flowing and unified way across the entire package, as opposed to having a few extremely conspicuous focal points. The end result is a car that looks more premium than its predecessors, with a subtle edginess that is still apparent when you scrutinise the car.

Daily Practicality

Perhaps one of the biggest draws of a Golf R lies in the fact that you're essentially getting a high performance vehicle with 4 doors and 4 seats. Granted, there are other cars that fulfil this criteria, but probably none that offer as much price to performance value as the Golf R.

In its current iteration, the Golf R is also bigger than before, and boasts more rear legroom - albeit just by a little. Turn the car to comfort mode , and the engine response, shift speed, and exhaust notes mellow out to the point that it will pass the mother-in-law test.

Track Weapon

Away from the confines of Singapore's roads and the judgement of your wife and children, there is an "R" button on the steering wheel that prompts you to press it. It's blue amid a panel of black - and it stands out. Press it, and the car gets transformed into a beautifully tuned track weapon.

As if engaging an alter ego, the Golf R swaps its regular driver display into an R mode display. The engine and exhaust comes to life, and you're ready to go. As a track car, the Golf R is wonderfully balanced and offers much better rotation on corners than before, thanks to torque vectoring now built-in, allowing for a more rear wheel bias than ever before in the Golf R's history. Steering is sharp and intuitive, and gear shifts are lightning quick through VW's wonderful dual clutch transmission.

Who Will it Appeal to?

All things considered, the Golf R is considered a niche car, and there are many buyers who would opt to buy the cheaper but also very capable GTI instead. While it is true that in previous generations, some circles feel that the GTI is the better car overall, the MK8 Golf R's torque vectoring and capability for rear wheel bias is something that really puts the Golf R on a different level to the GTI. To all the GTI fans out there, it's finally the right time to consider a Golf R.


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