Volkswagen Golf R 20 Years edition launched

Two decades of R-branded Golfs celebrated with 333hp special edition model

By John Howell / Tuesday, 24 May 2022 / Loading comments

It’s not only BMW that’s celebrating an anniversary today. Twenty years ago, the Volkswagen Golf R32 became the most powerful roadgoing Golf. Since then, Volkswagen has shifted more than 260,000 Golf Rs, and it’s hoping to shift a few more with this ‘20 Years’ commemorative edition. Back at the start of it all, ‘the most powerful’ tag required ‘just’ 241hp to be levered out of the R32’s warbling 3.2-litre VR6 engine. Well, you can add nearly 100hp to that in 2022, because the ‘20 Years’ special has 333hp to its name – 13hp more than the standard R. It is, then, ‘the most powerful Golf of all time.’

There’s a little more to this than a few extra horsepowers, though. Right from the off you will be made aware of its sportier pretensions with the Emotion Start. Wow, what is this new-fangled wonder, you’re no doubt wondering. It’s a mode that shoots the engine up to 2,500rpm momentarily after you’ve hit the start button. And in combination with the ‘especially striking drive acoustics,’ which we take to mean that it’s louder, this ‘additionally heightens the anticipation of a typical R driving experience.’ Well, if it doesn’t make you feel all emotional, then maybe your neighbours will, when you fire it up early on a Sunday morning.

The seven-speed DSG gearbox has been tweaked. It now provides ‘more feedback’ in Sport and Sport+ modes, which means more of a thump in the back with each upshift. There’s also a pre-load feature to keep the turbo at a constant speed on part throttle, which is said to reduce lag for a more responsive pickup.

The current Mk8’s R Performance Pack (usually a £2,050 option) is standard. It removes the speed limiter – the performance figures haven’t been released, but we doubt 13hp will make much of a difference to its v-max – and adds the R-Performance Torque Vectoring in conjunction with the Vehicle Dynamics Manager. You also get the famous drift mode, selectable from the infotainment screen.

As usual, the R Performance Pack also adds a rear spoiler and 19-inch Estoril alloys, but here they have blue spokes. Or you can stick with an all-black finish if you wish. Other distinguishing features include blue R badges and door mirrors, although if you opt for Lapiz Blue, the mirrors are finished in black. And the door mirrors are fitted with puddle lights that project a ’20 R’ logo onto the ground at night. Amazing. 

Inside, there are climate-controlled premium sports seats, covered in Nappa leather trim with blue R logos embroidered onto their backrest. Fitting those seats to a Golf R would ordinarily set you back £2,610. Here they are included. The 20 R gets carbon fibre trim inside, too, and this time it’s real – the first time we’ve seen real carbon in a Volkswagen.

Volkswagen makes the bold claim that the ‘20 Years’ special ‘is already a collectors’ item as a new car.’ That may be jumping the gun slightly; we’ll wait to see how quickly the production run is snapped up for an indication on whether that’s true. It’s intended that the run will continue until the middle of 2023.

The press release says that the first examples will be arriving at Volkswagen dealerships in the middle of 2022, which, bearing in mind we’re at the end of May already, means in the next few weeks. But we cannot tell you how much it will cost because there isn’t a price for it yet. We’ll fill in the blanks as soon as we hear anything further. 


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