Volkswagen Golf R hatch gets another tease in anniversary camo

With the reveal of the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport last week, there’s just one more step to ascend on the Golf ladder, the one labeled “Golf R.” The Wolfsburg brand teased the flagship trim during the annual ice races at Zell am See at the beginning of the year. As the launch nears, we’re getting video of the hatchback and the wagon body style that will join it in “near production study” form. Naturally, our market should only expect the hatch. We were more hopeful of getting additional power over the current Golf R, but the latest Clubsport has tempered our expectations; the tweener trim between GTI and R picked up a more refined chassis, but not one horse more from its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. If the R holds steady as well, it will roll into its Mk 8.5 phase with 315 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque in the U.S., sent exclusively through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission thanks to the death of the six-speed manual. 

It’s hard to know for certain if this is the final pure ICE-powered Golf R, since the EV game keeps changing the rules and moving the goalposts, and fans keep leaving the stands. If it is the last call for gas, a 329-hp flourish to match the output in the “20 Years” and “333” special editions might make a fine outro.  

As for looks, compared to the current Golf R, the coming front fascia is less ornate, more mature. The hexagonal mesh and the fog lights found on the GTI are replaced here by a single line through the lower intake and angled strakes that frame a radar unit. Further back, blue brake calipers replace the red units on the GTI, there’s a plump wing atop the hatchback, and quad pipes poking out from the rear diffuser. 

The outgoing Golf R starts at $46,890 after the $1,225 destination charge, exactly $1,000 more than the 2024 Honda Civic Type R that makes 315 hp and 310 lb-ft and only comes with a six-speed manual gearbox. The rivalry between the two is about more than MSRP and output, but we’ll be looking closely at those columns when the new R appears.

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