Mark 8 Golf R: The new VW Golf R keeping the hot hatchbacks hot

The VW Golf is an icon that's pretty much responsible for the hot hatch craze. 

When the Mk1 Golf GTI debuted in March 1975 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, it brought performance in a practical package. It continued to do so for many generations. 

In 2002 Volkswagen R was born, with the release of the Mk4 Golf R32. This car has a cult following called 'Wookies in the Wild', a group who believe it's one of the best sounding automobiles around - which also happens to sound a lot like a certain Star Wars character. 

And here we are now in 2022. Twenty years later, Volkswagen R are launching the new Mark 8 Golf R and the Tiguan R. Powering these cars is a 2.0 litre four cylinder turbocharged engine, making 235kw and 400 nm of German torque.

This is mated to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission with launch control - not to mention the massive new brakes to stop all that extra power. The new 4Motion All-Wheel-Drive System takes you up to a top speed of 250kph, but if you get the special first-edition package, you unlock a top speed of 270kph. Unfortunately, New Zealand doesn't have an autobahn, so you'll have to test that out on the track. 

Volkswagon Mark 8 Golf R.
Photo credit: Newshub

Inside both of these cars you'll find Napa leather front seats, although the Golf wins this battle with both heating and cooling options. Both have a heated steering wheel with multiple touch-button controls - slightly more complicated than the no-frills interiors of Golf's past. 

Pressing the R button on the steering wheel puts the car into different modes. Race lets in more noise, the engine comes to life, and everything feels a little more nimble. In the first-edition they have added two extra modes, DRIFT and Nürburgring - the famous German track where this car was tuned.  

Volkswagon Mark 8 Golf R interior.
Photo credit: Newshub

These cars are certified sleepers. They look like any other Golf or Tiguan on the road, apart from the R badge. But under the suburban exterior is a racing heart - Volkswagen has said these cars are about accessible performance.

"In terms of pricing for a performance car that still has luxury, it is very competitive compared to the other German brands. It's a little bit more discreet as well even though they offer the same level of performance," said Jordan Haines, VW national sales manager.

Volkswagon Mark 8 Golf R nav system.
Photo credit: Newshub

This is definitely true - it is competitively priced in terms of German manufacturers. The Golf R starts at $77,990 plus fees and on-road costs.

But the Golf seems less attractive when you look at the hot hatch performance offerings from some of the Japanese or Korean car companies. This is definitely a car for the VW enthusiast.  

The Tiguan is most likely to attract the family-oriented buyer, while the Golf is more likely to attract those looking for a driver's car. 

Volkswagon Mark 8 Golf R and Tiguan.
Photo credit: Newshub