Volkswagen pulls the silk-off the new Golf 8 R
Vrr-Phaa. The sound of a EA888 motor under acceleration, which is then interrupted by a DSG fart as the car upshifts into the next gear. It’s a sound that has become associated with many a performance car, but was popularised by the Golf GTI and later the Golf R. The latter became the king of the hot hatchbacks in its outgoing iteration, the Mk7. It wasn’t the fastest, nor was it the most exhilarating to drive, but its blend of ample performance, insane tuneability, and its surprisingly good ability at being a daily driver meant it found a home in driveways from Midrand to Milnerton. And now the newest, latest version, the Mk8 has just been launched.
The now familiar EA888 turbocharged 2.0 litre 4-cylinder power plant has been reworked, and it produces 235kW and 420NM of torque. It is sent through a either a 6-speed manual (unlikely to arrive in SA) or a 7-speed DSG automatic gearbox, which feeds power to all 4 wheels via a revised Haldex All-Wheel Drive system (branded 4Motion by VW) and interestingly, joins the world of the Focus RS and A45s with a new drift mode, which should make trips to Cubana a touch more interesting (just kidding – VW have said this mode is reserved for “track-use only”). 0 to 100 km/h is achieved in 4.7 seconds, and top speed is limited to 250km/h.
The design of the Golf 8 R is in line with what we expected – understated, with small, interesting details. The front end features a silver trim line in the grille that stretches from headlight to headlight – the usual for the R model. The front bumper features larger, more aggressive air-intakes which feed air into a multitude of coolers and radiators. Down the side we find matte chrome mirror caps, which will likely be offered with carbon-fibre as an optional extra. The launch rims are 19” in size, with the suspension being 20mm lower than the 7.5 R (no need for lowering springs), and large 354mm brakes hiding behind the front wheels, ensuring the best possible stopping power. Side skirts specific to the R add to the sporty look.
At the rear, we find not much has changed from the regular Golf 8. Below the “VW” badge in the centre is the newly designed “R” badge. The rear bumper features a revised black diffuser which houses, as you can probably guess, the 4-pipes. Or, to use the correct term, dual, dual exhaust tips. These 4-pipes can be optioned as Akrapovic sports exhaust, which will make waking up the neighbours bit easier.
The first thing you will notice in the interior new sports seats. They are trimmed in lovely Nappa Leather, with blue stitching and the “R” Badge embroidered on the headrest, perfect for those snaps on your Instagram story. The rest of the interior is what we’ve become used to with the Golf 8. A 12,3-inch Active Info display serves as the gauge cluster and sits behind the R-trimmed steering wheel. Next to it, is a 10-inch Discover Pro touch screen infotainment system. All of this tech means you can configure what information is displayed behind the gauges and ensure that your driving experience is as comfortable and effortless as possible.
The Golf 8R is expected to arrive in South Africa in late 2021 or early 2022. We have yet to receive confirmation from VWSA regarding pricing, and whether this version of the R will be detuned, like the 7R that came before it. We remain hopeful.