2015 Volkswagen Golf R: The Ultimate Hot Hatch

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VW invented the hot hatchback, and the 2015 Golf R is the ultimate hot hatch.

Now in its seventh generation, the car that essentially invented the hot-hatch segment is still carving corners like a Porsche, yet retaining the practicality and refinement that makes hot hatches special.

Compared to the previous generation, the new Golf R has 36 more horses, is 0.6 seconds quicker to 60 mph, 75 pounds lighter, almost an inch lower, and has a revamped four-wheel drive system (with XDS+ electronic differential control on both axles), and DCC adaptive dampers. Yet it still gets 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

The hatchback’s automatic gearbox is so quick and responsive that most of the time you won’t even have to use the paddles. Toggle the ‘Race’ Driving Mode on the standard touchscreen and the Golf R tightens up the steering and suspension, and holds gears like a race driver.

Switch to “Comfort” and the engine immediately drops revs and quiets down, while the active suspension rides out harsh bumps. Or choose “Normal,” “Eco,” and customizable “Individual” modes as well.

Best of all, even though the Golf R is a 292-hp athlete, other than its badging, quad exhaust tips, and standard Bi-Xenon headlights, it still looks enough like a Golf that unless you blur through a speed trap (admittedly, hard to resist), the police will mistake you for a responsible young professional on the way to the office.

Maybe VW should call that “Stealth Mode.”

Ask us about the Golf R >>