There will come a point where Volkswagen surely cannot cram any more power into its star performer, but not today.
The fifth-generation Golf R has been a match-winner since it arrived in the UAE in 2011 to replace the German marque's wildly popular R32, and every version since has pushed the envelope.
You have to remember that its predecessor came with a 3.2 litre V6. It was good, but front-heavy and therefore not the best handling machine considering its size. Then Volkswagen figured out the perfect 2.0L four-cylinder engine, put one inside the Golf and have been refining it ever since.
The first model that arrived in the GCC was tuned down to a mere 255 horsepower. The latest gives 320 horsepower and the agility of all-wheel drive.
This will be the first Golf with VW's 4Motion system coupled with R-Performance Torque Vectoring and selective wheel torque control on the rear axle.
It promises drivers precise and neutral handling, optimum traction characteristics and exceptional agility. Or, in other words: “maximum driving pleasure".
“The Golf R is Volkswagen’s top performance model and the elite member of the R-Brand,” says Victor Dalmau, managing director of Volkswagen Middle East.
“This latest edition unites speed, precision and power, achieving a driving experience like never before. The Middle East has long shown a keen appetite for performance models, so we are particularly excited about launching this car in the region.”
So other than power, agility and the promised comfort from its sports-tuned suspension, what else will give you a grin?
Well, it's great to look at, too. The Golf R has had subtle changes over the years and remains one the prettiest little things on the road.
This one, available in Lapiz Blue Metallic, Pure White or Deep Black Pearl Effect, has the typical styling that includes a lower ride height, matt chrome mirrors, and R logo floor projection when the car door is opened and closed.
An optional Performance Package is available, equipped with 19-inch Estoril-style alloy wheels, progressive variable-ratio steering and a drift mode. And for those wanting to push the boat out further, VW is offering an Akrapovic titanium exhaust system for the first time in the Middle East. That knocks off an extra seven kilogrammes of weight if it is not already nimble enough.
Updates inside include customised and enhanced premium sports seats, a new, specially designed ergonomic direct-shift gearbox and an R button that allows quick access to different driving modes.
As usual, the Golf R is on the top end of the price list in its class — this one starts at about Dh182,000 ($49,709) — but a pre-booking offer before May 31 includes seven years of service.