Thought the Mk7 VW Golf R was good but a touch boring? The new VW Golf R Mk8 is here and it comes with an optional Nurburgring mode as well as drift mode to help liven it up.

Hot on the heels of the unveiling of the Golf GTI Clubsport Mk8, the new VW Golf R Mk8 receives the famous formula we know so well from VW; a turbocharged four-pot, AWD and DSG. This time, power is up 10bhp on the last model (yep, that’s all!) and VW reckons it can lap the Nurburgring 17 seconds fast than its predecessor, although that time is dangerously close to the FWD Honda Civic Type R FK8. That was, however, undertaken using the optional Nurburgring mode, which adjusts the damper settings for optimum performance over a circuit notorious for being road-like.

VW Golf R Mk8VW Golf R Mk8

What is drift mode?

The all-new VW Golf R Mk8 also has an optional Drift Mode. Drift Mode works by employing a new active rear differential with torque vectoring that can transfer most of the engine’s performance towards the rear wheels. This means that it behaves like a RWD car momentarily while in use. Once you select another drive mode, the Golf R will return to AWD.

That torque vectoring wonder diff will also help transfer power to the wheels with the most grip when not using drift mode, and in doing so, raises the vehicles dynamics. The biggest criticism of the Mk7 Golf R was almost that it was too good, too safe and that transferred into a car that felt almost boring to drive. The focus on the car’s dynamics leaves us hopeful that the new car will convert the naysayers into fans.

How fast is the VW Golf R Mk8?

Power comes from a 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder engine (V4 of the EA888 engine) and produces 316bhp and 310lb ft of torque from 2100rpm through to 5350rpm. This power is transferred through a DSG gearbox and put down by all four wheels. This means that 0-62mph takes 4.8 seconds and it goes on to a limited top speed of 155mph, or 168mph if you opt for the Performance Upgrade Package, which was also seen on the Mk7.

What else is new on the VW Golf R Mk8?

To identify the Golf R Mk8 from its regular cooking siblings, the R sits a solid 20mm lower and is fitted with an aggressive front splitter, a black rear diffuser, quad-exit exhaust out the rear, bespoke wheel designs and bigger brakes. It’s the standard affair inside with blue sports seats, stainless steel pedals and some R-specific designs on the infotainment screen.

VW Golf R Mk8VW Golf R Mk8

Similarly to the Mk7 Golf R, the new R can also be specified with the optional Akrapovic exhaust, which brings weight down by 7kg and transforms the sound emitting from the tailpipes to give it a more aggressive tone.

As part of the Performance Package that increases the top speed from 155mph to 168mph you also get a different set of 19inch wheels and a larger rear spoiler that aids downforce.

There’s also a new “R” button which is mounted onto the steering wheel. With a hard press, this puts the car into its hardest setting, Race, which presumably knocks the traction control settings off and ramps everything from the gearbox and diff to the engine’s throttle response right into its sharpest setting for optimum performance.

We were hoping that the VW Golf R Mk8 would deliver a close-to-400bhp experience to take the fight to the Mercedes A45 S. Prices for the new R haven’t been confirmed thus far, however, you can expect a price tag of around £35,000.


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