The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Unleash your Rrrr.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

This is the third and final chapter of my Golf trilogy that began three months ago. The first two chapters were about the 2015 VW Golf GTI and the 2015 VW Golf TDI Clean Diesel.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

This last chapter speaks to the top-of-the-line Golf R, the max-performance Golf. The Golf R is the fastest and most powerful performance Volkswagen ever to be sold in the U.S. The previous generation Golf R was sold in the U.S. market as a 2012 and a 2013 model.

For 2015 the Golf R has 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque from its turbocharged and direct-injection EA888 TSI 2.0-Liter engine. That’s 36 hp and 37 lb-ft more than the previous version. For now, the only transmission is a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. It offers a launch control feature that enables a 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of 4.9 seconds. The top track speed is 155 mph. That’s plenty quick for a very practical hatchback.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The new Gen-7 Golf R transfers its power to the road via a permanent all-wheel-drive system. It’s the latest version of VW’s 4MOTION system with a fifth-generation Haldex coupling. To help ensure great chassis dynamics, there’s a new sport suspension, a Progressive variable-ratio steering system, and an ESC Sport stability control system which can be deactivated for track driving. Also available is the optional DCC adaptive damping system.

The Golf R’s sport suspension setup is specifically tuned to the car. Compared to the base Golf, the ride height is lowered by 0.8 inches. That’s 0.2 inches lower than the GTI. The strut-type front suspension has a newly developed lower control arm and the multi-link rear suspension was enhanced with different tuning of the toe-link bearings.

Compared to the previous model, steering response has been improved by a new Progressive variable-ratio electric power assisted rack-and-pinion steering. The lower steering ratio in the center allows the car to respond more quickly when entering a turn, while the higher ratio at the ends of the rack reduces the amount of effort needed near full steering lock, such as when parking. The steering wheel needs just 2.1 turns from lock to lock, whereas the standard Golf needs 2.76 turns.

The Golf R has the uprated brakes from the GTI Performance Package. At the front, the car has 13.4-inch diameter vented discs that are 1.2 inches thick, while the vented rear rotors are 12.2 by 0.9 inches. Black brake calipers include the “R” logo at the front. Up front, the single pistons per side are 2.4 inches in diameter and are 1.7 inches at the back.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

A Driving Mode Selection feature has three programs in the Golf R, and four in conjunction with DCC: “Normal”, “Individual”, and a “Race” mode for track use that has been specially designed for the Golf R. In combination with DCC, “Comfort” mode is also available. In “Race” mode, which is designed for high-speed track driving, engine response and the shift points of the DSG transmission are configured to be more sporty on all Golf R models and the damping is stiffened on the Golf R with DCC & Navigation. In the “Individual” driving profile, the driver can combine mode settings for various individual parameters.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The new R model is also more fuel-efficient than its predecessor with an EPA test estimated highway fuel economy rating of 30 mpg with the six-speed DSG transmission, up from 27 mpg for the previous, manual-transmission model. The EPA test city rating is 23 mpg with a combined rating of 26 mpg, or 3.8 gallons per 100 miles. I will admit I made no attempt at hypermiling. (

The new Golf R is equipped with specially designed bumpers, side skirts, and standard 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with 225/40 performance summer tires. Or, 235/35 performance summer tires mounted on 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels are also available. The Golf R is visually distinguished from the GTI by details such as standard Bi-Xenon headlights with newly designed LED daytime running lights in a dual-U design and a two-branch exhaust system that has four chrome tips.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Inside, the Golf R features sport seats with leather seating surfaces, a leather-wrapped three-spoke sport steering wheel, ambient lighting, and R specific instrumentation. Seating is very low and supportive allowing for a good seat-of-the-pants feel of the car and good lateral support.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The 2015 Golf R launched in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2015 only as a four-door and initially with the DSG dual-clutch transmission. There are two models: the Golf R starting at $36,595 and the Golf R with DCC & Navigation, starting at $39,090 for DSG-equipped models.

For the 2016 model year, a six-speed manual transmission will become available, featuring a reinforced clutch and a short-throw shifter.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

You can read my 2015 Volswagen Golf TDI Clean Diesel chapter, it's just a click away.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

And you can also read my 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI chapter just a mouse click away.

Here on The Auto Channel you can compare the Golf R to other performance compacts. And, you can spec out your own Golf R and “Unleash your own Rrrr.

It’s fair to say that the 2015 Golf R is the top performer in the hot-hatchback segment. Although its price hovers in the $40,000 arena, the all-out performance packaged in a VW Golf will surprise many drivers of even higher priced performance cars.

All-in-all there is a lot to like about the Golf R. This could easily be an only-car that is very practical to move a family about, providing versatile cargo carrying and when you feel the urge, hit the track.

When my week of drive time in the Golf R came to an end it was a bit difficult for me to give up so much fun. Serious fun! However, perhaps it was a good thing to remove the temptation to drive too spirited.

As we go to press July auto industry sales are being reported. VW reports that the all-new Golf family of vehicles delivered 6,717 units, a 174.6 percent increase over last year. G-Rrrr-eat!

© 2015 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

The Most In-Depth Volkswagen Shopper's Research - Anywhere!