The fast VW Golf 8 range has now been filled out, with the new 316bhp R arriving last week to join the GTI, GTI Clubsport, GTD and GTE. It sounds awfully exciting with its new all-wheel drive system and ‘drift profile’, but since the new GTI starts at £32,230, its big bro is destined to be nudging £40,000 before options.
As we’ve seen with the Mercedes-AMG A45 S and the Ford Focus RS, these oversteer-capable AWD hot hatch can often feel a little weird and artificial when the rear end starts to get out of shape. We’ll have to reserve judgement until we drive the thing, of course, but the drifty aspect of the new Golf R might not be the selling point you might expect it to be.
Set that aside, then, and it doesn’t look like the new R moves the game on massively from the Mk7 version. That’s certainly the case with the regular Golf 8, which is a backwards step from the old one in a few ways. So, why not ignore the incoming R and its Nurburgring mode (yes, that’s really a thing), and go used?
The outgoing R arrived early on in the Golf 7’s life, meaning plenty of time has passed for depreciation to take hold. So, you can now snag one of these 297bhp, all-capable hot hatches for under £15,000.
For that kind of money, you’ll have to accept higher mileage, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but we’ve upped our imaginary budget to snare a fresher one. This 2014 example on Buyacar.com is up for £17,295 and has covered a thoroughly reasonable 45,000 miles during its six years on Planet Earth.
It’s the three-door model, giving it a trump card against its replacement, which is only available as a five-door. Who cares about practicality when it looks this good?
As tempting as one in the R’s signature Lapiz Blue might prove, we’re quite partial to the Pure White finish of this one. It’s not as eye-catching, but perhaps that’s a good thing - on first glance it looks like any other Golf, yet it’ll do 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds.
You can go faster still if opting for the six-speed DSG automatic version (later switched for a seven-speed unit), but the rarer six-speed manual is a nice match for the EA888 inline-four. Plus, from launch at least, you won’t be able to get the new R with stick shift.