11 August 2020

Volkswagen Golf R Performance 2020 Car Review

When someone says they own a Volkswagen Golf, you might think that it sounds like a conservative choice, but the Golf R Performance is anything but modest.

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Volkswagen Golf R Performance
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Volkswagen Golf R Performance
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Volkswagen Golf R Performance
Volkswagen Golf R Performance
Volkswagen Golf R Performance
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Volkswagen Golf R Performance

Starting from $76,990 (+ORC), just 25 Golf R Performance models were brought to New Zealand, and while we already consider the current VW Golf R a brilliant machine, the limited edition Performance version adds even more spice to your driving experience.

Icing on the Cake

Some features set the Golf R Performance apart from other Golf models, such as the R Performance rear spoiler, gorgeous 19-inch Spielberg alloy wheels - which look almost too bold on a vehicle with a compact frame - and an exclusive Akrapovic titanium sports exhaust system, which adds just the right amount of crackle and pop without being antisocial around town.

Compared to other hot hatches, it’s not all about making a spectacle of yourself in this car, and we suspect it will appeal to someone who wants something out of the ordinary, but doesn't want to go shouting it out from the roof tops. With cars like the Honda Civic Type R, you’d turn fewer heads travelling to the shops on an elephant.

Hidden Surprise

The Volkswagen Golf R Performance is a powerhouse, producing 228Kw/400Nm from its compact 2.0L four-cylinder turbocharged engine, which VW claims can go from zero to 100km in just 4.8 seconds.

Like most members of its family, power is delivered through a quick DSG transmission that does an excellent job regardless of which driving mode is selected, and the 4Motion all-wheel drive system keeps all that power where it needs to go.

The Sport Human Machine Interface (HMI) will keep you on top of the performance of the Golf R via the infotainment system, showing you current engine performance values like the charge pressure and G-meter, as well as the power currently in use.

With all this power, you may be worried about coming to a standstill, well fear not - the Performance model includes a high performance braking system, which includes drilled brake disks and upgraded brake pads.

The Golf R Performance has one more trick up its sleeve, although it’s only really useful if you take it to a track, the top speed limiter has been removed. It’s highly unlikely most would ever reach this threshold but nonetheless, it does make you feel like you’re driving something that little bit more special when you’re sitting behind the wheel.

Comfort and Convenience

Although this model is set up to be on the sporty side, there’s a drive mode for every occasion, and when you select ‘Comfort’, the Golf R Performance can easily be used as a commuter.

It features heated seats, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist too. The only feature we felt should have been included was a wireless smartphone charger, but there are ample USB ports for charging available.

As with most German cars, the eight-inch infotainment system is crisp, easy to use and is Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatible. There’s also a 12.3” digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel which can also display the navigation.

The Golf R Performance has a clean, techy interior and it’s topped off with a muted pallet with simple piano and matt black around the whole cabin. With silver accents it culminates to give a sense of opulence.   

At its heart, the Golf R Performance is still a Golf. This means it’s still is practical, dimensionally it’s on point for inner city navigation with a length of 4263mm and a width of only 1790mm.

There’s also a reasonably generous luggage compartment, with 343L of space with the rear seats up and 1,233L with all the seats down, to assist in transporting those bulkier items.


If you are looking for a practical vehicle that’s fit for the family and still crave some added excitement under the bonnet then this hot hatch could fit the bill, especially if you don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb.

Now in its seventh generation, Volkswagen hasn’t exactly shied away from performance hatches over the years, and the extra $3,000 on top of the regular Golf R actually seems worth it - if not for the performance-related extras, for the honour of owning just one of the 25 examples of this fantastic car to hit our shores.

At a glance


Volkswagen Golf R DSG Performance


2.0L turbocharged


From $76,990

ANCAP safety rating


Power and Torque

228kW and 400Nm torque


Seven-speed DSG

Fuel economy


Towing capacity



Quattro AWD

Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload


 Safety systems

  • Front assist, side assist BSM
  • Airbags, ABS, ESP
  • Rear Traffic Alert
  • Rear view camera
  • Lane Keep Assist
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Park Pilot
  • Pedestrian Monitoring
  • ISOFIX Mounting Points
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