Volkswagen's Golf R is a peri-peri hot hatch complete with drift mode

BLUE with silver wing mirrors. The war paint of a Golf R.

The most powerful Volkswagen Golf ever, with 320hp, 4WD and now drift mode.

But it doesn’t shout about it. If you know, you know. Otherwise it’s just another regular workaday Golf to everyone else.

Which means they won’t say “flash k**b” when you stop anywhere and you can still demolish a B-road on the way home. Understated, then, but not underrated.

A fantastic all-weather, peri-peri hot hatch that’s no longer the bargain it once was but still pretty tasty on PCP. You can even get a labrador and camping kit in the back by opting for the estate version.

Now for some driving impressions. Jeez, this car is fast. Really fast. And grippy. And composed.

Trick diffs front and back work hand-in-hand for faster, safer cornering. It feels sharp and alive but holds the road as if its life depends on it. Yours does.


I swear that 0-62mph sprint time of 4.7 seconds is wrong. It’s lower. There’s torque everywhere.

Pay a bit extra for the Performance Pack to increase the top speed to 168mph and unlock Drift mode for some serious Ken Block donut fun.

It’s easy to master because it deploys 100 per cent of torque to the outside rear wheel.

And here’s another upsell for you: A lighter titanium exhaust with adjustable flaps to control the noise levels.

For the most part though, you’ll be driving sensibly at 30-40mph in the flow of traffic, dropping the kids at footie, listening to a podcast and appreciating the Golf R for its calm and fuss-free manners.

Which brings me neatly to the interior. Now, I will say the Mk8 Golf has been getting a slapping from many car journos — including myself — for VW’s obsession with getting rid of buttons.

The centre screen is tasked with too many things and the touch-slider controls for volume and air con are fiddly, frustrating and unlit at night.

I also dislike the haptic steering-wheel controls but at least there’s a shortcut “R” button to switch between driving modes. And do we really need 30 choices of low-level cabin lighting? No. Everything else is on point.

Head-up display (£625 extra), adaptive cruise control, grippy seats, all things that please.

Key facts


Price: £39,270

Engine: 2-litre turbo petrol

Power: 320hp, 420Nm

0-62mph: 4.7 secs

Top speed: 155mph

Economy: 36mpg

CO2: 177g/km

Rivals: Audi S3, Mercedes A35, BMW M135i, Toyota GR Yaris

As does the attention to detail, with carpeted door pockets to stop things rattling about and seat back pockets for phones.

To conclude, then. When you find a quiet stretch of road, the Golf R is extraordinary. Around town, it’s ordinary. Apart from those signature wing mirrors.

Beck to the future

WE like David Beckham. He’s a car guy. He’s indulged in pretty much all our favourites over the years.

McLaren, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Aston Martin Bentley, Range Rover, Maserati. And that’s just off the top of my head.

Now Becks has turned his passion for cars into business by buying a ten per cent stake in electric vehicle firm Lunaz.

It turns old classics into battery-powered EVs, meaning they can stay on the road for as long as there’s electricity.

Lunaz has already modified a 1953 Jaguar XK120 with a 80kWh battery pack. It looks exactly like the original, except there’s no noise. Range: 200 miles. Price: £350,000.

Other conversions include a 1961 Rolls-Royce Phantom EV. Price: £500,000.

You can imagine that sat outside some of the world’s finest hotels. Lunaz is based at Silverstone and currently has 25 classic cars in build.

The EV powertrain can be scaled up or down to suit any vehicle and bosses plan to expand into HGVs, primarily converting refuse trucks into clean-air EVs.

Upcycling existing bin lorries is a sustainable alternative to replacing them with new EVs and cuts the total cost of ownership for councils by 43 per cent.

A Lunaz source said: “David got in touch because he was interested in the classic car side of the business.

“We spoke to him about our wider ambitions and that convinced him to come on board and invest. He’s written a significant cheque.”

Other backers include the Reuben and Barclay families who pretty much own half of London.

10 out of 10, Toyota

EVERY customer satisfaction survey I’ve ever seen has the same result: Toyota and Lexus ranked No1.

It’s the same for reliability.

Now owners can benefit from a ground-breaking TEN-YEAR warranty scheme – even if their car or van is fourth or fifth-hand and has no prior Toyota or Lexus service history. Impressive.

The Relax scheme adds a year’s warranty to a vehicle every time it is serviced at a main dealer – at no extra cost.

All vehicles are eligible until they are ten years old or have covered 100,000 miles.

This means you could go out today and buy a nine-year-old, 90,000-mile car and add a year’s manufacturer warranty to it by simply getting it serviced. That’s got to make it worth a few quid more when you move it on.

Toyota boss Rob Giles said: “It rewards existing owners and strengthens the appeal of our vehicles to new customers, whether they’re considering a new or used model.”

Lunaz was founded in 2018 by David Lorenz and ex-F1 guru Jon Hilton, the technical director at Renault when Fernando Alonso won successive world titles.

Becks said: “I was drawn to the company through their work restoring some of the most beautiful classic cars through upcycling and electrification. I look forward to being part of their growth.”

His first car was a Ford Escort he bought off Ryan Giggs for £6,000. He should get that converted into an EV.

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