The new, eagerly awaited Mk8 Volkswagen Golf R has been spied in final testing before its reveal later in 2020. We’ve already seen the new GTI, and its lesser GTD and GTE siblings, but as before it’ll be the Golf R that tops the performance range, featuring the biggest numbers and all-wheel drive.
Spotted almost entirely free of camouflage whilst undergoing performance testing at the Nürburgring, the Mk8 Golf R now looks to sport more of the styling enhancements we expect to see on the finished production model. A more aggressive front bumper with restyled lower intakes, larger wheels (19-inch Pretorias on this occasion) that cover the larger set of brakes, and a fresh rear bumper clip hiding the four exhaust outlets are all visible, so too the aggressive new rear wing that almost looks like it came straight off the previous GTI Clubsport S.
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What lies under the bonnet is still to be confirmed, but despite the proliferation of mild-hybrid systems throughout the Volkswagen Group, it will likely feature an unassisted powertrain comprising the 2-litre turbocharged EA888 four-pot and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Also shared with previous Golf Rs will be the Haldex-style all-wheel-drive system, one that we hope will mimic the playfulness that defined the previous model. Final power figures have also yet to be confirmed, but insider rumours of a 340bhp output are persistent.
This will not be the final addition to the new Golf’s performance range, mind, as an even more potent GTI Clubsport, as reported in evo 271, is due to combine a power figure not far off that of this flagship R, with an even more focused front-wheel-drive chassis. Volkswagen presented three such models during the Mk7’s lifespan, peaking with the brilliant 316bhp Clubsport S that finished runner-up at eCoty 2017.
Volkswagen’s sales and marketing boss, Jürgen Stackmann, previously said that the next-generation Mk8 Golf R could be pushed to around 400bhp: ‘With a little more expressive design, R can go beyond the rational side of things. It [the R brand] can find its place in a different league of pure performance and there’s a space where customers are willing to pay a significant amount of money.’
But there is a hierarchy to consider within Volkswagen, and with Audi having top billing with its more expensive five-cylinder RS3 within the MQB family, the Golf R is unlikely to quite reach those 400bhp-plus highs any time soon. Still, the previous Golf R was a fantastic all-rounder on the road, and although it had some help along the way, proved to be a big sales success for Volkswagen. Here’s hoping the same can be said for this all-new successor.