In Depth

Volkswagen Golf R Mk8 2021: spy shots, plus specs, price and UK release

Souped-up hatchback is spotted for the first time while testing in South Africa

A performance-focused R version of the eighth-generation Golf hatchback has been spotted in the wild by the motoring world’s paparazzi for the first time. 

A shot of the car undergoing testing in South Africa, posted by Auto Express, shows the hot hatchback in near-production form, with no visible signs of pre-production camouflage masking the final design. 

Though there are no signs of the performance model’s signature R badges, the vehicle in the grainy image sits noticeably lower than the regular model and sports the old Golf R’s optional Pretoria wheels.  

Details about the Golf R are thin on the ground, given that the standard Golf was revealed only a month ago. There are, however, a number of reports that give fans an idea of what to expect when the covers come off in just over a year’s time.

Price and release

Autocar predicts the Golf R will go on sale in 2021, alongside an even faster R Plus variant. 

There’s no word on pricing just yet, but the base model isn’t expected to cost significantly more than the outgoing model at £35,000. 

Design

Like the current model, there’s little to distinguish the performance model from its more conventional sibling. 

The new Golf R adopts the regular model’s ultra-thin headlights and low nose, while the vast grille that spans the width of the front bumper appears to have been taken from the electrified GTE version, says Auto Express. 

But unlike the GTE, the Golf R does away with the hybrid model’s illuminated badge and bar that runs along the upper section of the front grille.

Other differences include the optional 19in wheels, which “neatly” fill the arches - hinting that the car will ride lower than the standard model, the magazine adds. 

Engine and performance

The hot hatchback will be offered in two versions: the regular Golf R and faster Golf R Plus. 

According to Car magazine, the regular Golf R will be powered by the same 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine as the upcoming Arteon shooting brake. The motor is expected to produce 328bhp and 295lb-ft of torque, which is sent to all four wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. 

A 0-62mph dash should take just 4.3 seconds, while the car’s “road manners” should be “tidier” than the outgoing model, the motoring magazine says. 

The Golf R Plus will up that bhp figure closer to the 400 mark, slash the 0-62mph time to 3.9 seconds and boast a top speed of 174mph, says Autocar.

While the magazine says the Golf R will “eschew” electric technology, more recent reports suggest the car will employ a 48-volt mild-hybrid system to improve acceleration.

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