2012 Golf R
9 Images

2012 Volkswagen Golf R

2012 Golf R
The Golf R gets 256 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque from a 2.0-liter, turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine that routs power to all four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. (David Undercoffler / Los Angeles Times)
2012 Volkswagen Golf R
The R will do 0-60 in 5.7 seconds, according to Road & Track. A base 2-door model starts at $34,760; the loaded four-door you see here is $36,860. (David Undercoffler / Los Angeles Times)
2012 Volkswagen Golf R
Sitting at the top of the pile in Volkswagen’s Golf lineup, the R picks up where the previous generation (then known as the R32) left off. The biggest difference is where a 3.2-liter V-6 once sat, a turbocharged inline four-cylinder now resides (hence the loss of the “32" in the R’s name). (David Undercoffler / Los Angeles Times)
2012 Volkswagen Golf R
All-wheel drive is still standard on the Golf R, coming again from a Haldex clutch pack. In normal operation, the R is essentially a front-wheel drive car. VW says this is for fuel economy’s sake, and I can attest to its functionality; on several highway jaunts, I had no trouble averaging above 27 miles per gallon. (David Undercoffler / Los Angeles Times)
2012 Volkswagen Golf R
The aesthetic changes to the Golf R were kept discreet, despite the car’s spicy potato status. New, slightly more aggressive front and rear bumpers have been added, as have twin, center-mounted exhaust pipes. Other changes include a unique grille; LED lights; side skirts; a larger rear spoiler; black brake calipers; 18-inch alloy wheels and the odd R logo sprinkled here and there. (David Undercoffler / Los Angeles Times)
2012 Volkswagen Golf R
Inside, you almost wouldn’t know the difference between this car and a GTI. Only the flat-bottomed steering wheel, R-embossed seats, and the blue needles in the instrument cluster say this is the boss Golf. (Volkswagen)
2012 Volkswagen Golf R
Other features on my tester included wonderfully-bolstered heated leather seats; a touchscreen navigation system; premium audio system; Xenon headlights; moon roof; keyless entry and pushbutton start; and climate control. (Volkswagen)
2012 Volkswagen Golf R
Though the engine and shifter feel are both very smooth, though pure enjoyment of this six-speed manual gearbox was tempered by its lack of precision during shifts. (Volkswagen)
2012 Volkswagen Golf R
As a whole, the Golf R’s ethos will likely appeal to a more mature enthusiast looking to avoid the boy-racer persona of stated competitors like Subaru’s Impreza WRX STI and Mitsubishi’s Evo. Though it can’t match those models’ direct, manic responsiveness (or their power), the R doesn’t seem like it wants to. Instead, it’s content to trump them on refinement. (David Undercoffler / Los Angeles Times)
1/9