2015 Volkswagen Golf R

By April 10, 2014
2015 Volkswagen Golf R
On Sale: January 2015
Expected Pricing: Mid-$30,000s

A new Volkswagen Golf R goes on sale early next year featuring a more powerful engine, better fuel economy and improved driving dynamics. Volkswagen's fastest-ever production Golf wagon was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Visually, the 2015 Volkswagen Golf R is set apart from the standard Golf and GTI by its unique bodywork. Front and rear bumpers, xenon headlights and redesigned LED daytime running lights, as well as the 18-inch wheel design, are all exclusive to the Golf R. In back, the Golf R gets its own rear diffuser and quad chrome tailpipes.

Powering the new Golf R is an updated version of VW's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that bumps up horsepower over the previous version to 290 hp. Torque is up to 280 pound-feet, available as low as 1800 rpm. Equipped with VW's 6-speed dual-clutch transmission, the Golf R can streak from 0-62 mph in just 4.9 seconds, according to Volkswagen. Acceleration with the standard 6-speed manual is less impressive, with a 0-62 mph time of 5.3 seconds, according to the company. As before, the 2015 Volkswagen Golf R is all-wheel drive.

With its sport suspension, the Golf R rides 0.8 inches lower than the base Golf, and just a smidge lower than the GTI. The front strut setup uses a new control arm, and the rear multi-link suspension has been revised. An optional adaptable suspension allows drivers to choose from three driving modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport. In addition, the 2015 Volkswagen Golf R has a Race Mode, which adjusts damping, engine response and shift points (with the dual-clutch transmission) for track driving.

Steering has been tweaked, with a new progressive variable ratio steering system, which Volkswagen says will make the new Golf R more responsive. Steering effort is lighter in low-speed maneuvering (such as parking lots), and heavier through twisty corners. Brakes are bigger and better, with vented discs all the way around.

Inside, standard sport seats and the three-spoke steering wheel are wrapped in Nappa leather. A new optional audio and navigation system uses a 5.8-inch screen with proximity sensors that can automatically change to the menu screen when someone's hand is nearby.

The 2015 Volkswagen Golf R is slated to arrive in U.S. dealerships in the first quarter of 2015. No official word yet on pricing, but we'd guess the new Golf R will start slightly higher than the outgoing model, at about $36,000.