Test driving the 2019 Volkswagen Golf R left me bummed when I had to return it.

Because it’s that much fun to drive.  And while it literally has a ‘Race mode’, it also easily fits the role of a daily commuter.

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Just a super-quick, incredibly agile daily commuter.  Plus, it doesn’t scream ‘look at me.  I’m driving a really fun and fast car.  And, I will likely break the law soon!’

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Continue reading below or click play to hear the complete details of my 2019 Volkswagen Golf R review.  And thanks to my dear friends at Ontario Volkswagen for hooking me up with a Golf R for this review!

2019 VW Golf passenger profile banner

VW Golf R Test Drive & Review

Now wrapping up its 7th generation, the 2019 Volkswagen Golf R is the top-dog when it comes to the automotive enthusiasts Golf.

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And I make that top-dog reference because we really cannot bring up the Golf R without giving well deserved ‘props’ to the Golf GTI.

 

2019 Volkswagen Golf R driver front

2019 Volkswagen Golf R

Earlier this year I reviewed the 2019 VW Golf GTI Rabbit Edition and was highly impressed.  The Rabbit really ran – boy did it run.

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So, I was excited when my friends at Ontario Volkswagen offered up GTI’s more powerful and all-wheel-drive sibling the Golf R for a day of test driving.

2019 Volkswagen Golf R Trim and MSRP

Everyone’s first question when we’re talking about performance vehicles is; ‘how much does it cost?’  Followed by the second question of; ‘what are its options?’

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But for the 2019 VW Golf R it’s kept pretty simple.  And that’s because the 2019 Golf R doesn’t offer any trim level options.

2019 VW Golf R passenger rear

Starting MSRP $40,395 – But contact Ontario VW

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It is, simply the Golf R.  Which makes sense considering there are a bunch of options for Golf’s initial sporty version, the GTI.

“…the starting MSRP for the 2019 Volkswagen Golf R is $40,395.”

Of course, there are various features you can configure but the starting MSRP for the 2019 Volkswagen Golf R is $40,395.

As always, that’s just MSRP.  Which, I include as a point of reference but you really shouldn’t worry much about it two reasons.

First, you’ve got to get yours configured to your liking.  And second, and more importantly, simply go see my pals at Ontario Volkswagen in Ontario, California.

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Tell them Tom from iDriveSoCal sent you and you’ll be glad that you did.

Engine, Transmission – Big Difference Between The Golf R & GTI

The 2019 Volkswagen Golf R delivers 288-horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.  And that coming from a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine.

So, the Golf R delivers an additional 60-horsepower over its GTI sibling.  The other big delivery point of the Golf R over the GTI is the transmission.

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The 2019 Volkswagen Golf R delivers 288-horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque… [with] Volkswagen’s 4MOTION all-wheel drive.

The GTI gives you front-wheel drive whereas the Golf R gives you Volkswagen’s 4MOTION all-wheel drive.

Golf R badge

Plus the Golf R delivers the option of dual-clutch automatic or 6-speed manual transmissions.

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For us purists, the manual is a blast.  But the automatic is faster and always easier to commute with.

So, when considering which transmission to go with, I find it a bit of a toss-up.

2019 Golf R Fuel Economy

And the Volkswagen Golf R’s fuel economy is highly respectable.

It’s rated 21-MPG in the city and 29-MPG on the highway.

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However, I’ve come across reports stating drivers are actually reaching 30-MPG on the highway.

…rated 21-MPG in the city and 29-MPG on the highway.

Of course, this is with premium fuel, etc.  But it’s worth stating that the Golf R, for as sporty of a drive it delivers, it also comes with incredible fuel economy… somehow?!?!?

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The Exterior of the 2019 VW Golf R

So, I think this crazy but it’s not too hard to find criticism of the 2019 Golf R’s exterior styling.  Look, it’s a very subjective thing.  And perhaps if I was in my 20’s or even 30’s I might opine differently.

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But I love the outside of the Golf R.  And here’s why.  It is sporty in all the right places without being obnoxious and calling attention to itself.

It is sporty in all the right places without being obnoxious and calling attention to itself.

You have LED lights in the front and rear.  The addition not available that I’d like to see is foglights on the front.

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The LED lights do the job.  But foglights always look cool.  And you can never have too much illumination.

2019 VW Golf R front

Mk7 Volkswagen Golf R

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Great looking rims (my test driver had the optional 5-spokes) with black colored brake calipers on display.

2019 Golf R 5.spoke wheel

5-spoke wheels are my choice.

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And my favorite, the rearview subtlely highlighting 4x functional tailpipes.

2019 Golf R rear close.up

Those 4-pipes play a sweet sound!

So the perfect fit for this subdued exterior styling is that the Golf R can easily be a daily driver.

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But one that literally has a ‘Race mode’.

2019 Volkswagen Golf R lap timer on center stack screen

Lap timer in Race mode

Personally, I’d prefer not to call attention to myself when having fun driving the freeways of Southern California.  Or anyplace else for that matter. ;0)

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Inside the Volkswagen Golf R

And much like the outside, the interior of the Golf R is subdued but classy.  It comes only in one color, Titan Black Leather.

2019 Volkswagen Golf R front seat from rear

Golf R front seats from the back

The fit and finish throughout the interior punches above its weight class.  And even though that’s something that most of us have come to expect from Volkswagen, it’s still notable and appreciated.

The fit and finish throughout the interior punches above its weight class.

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I found enough nooks to stash stuff inside the 2019 Volkswagen Golf R.  And when it comes to cargo space the hot-hatch continues to excel with 22.8 cubic feet with the back seats up.

2019 VW Golf R cargo area w. back seat partial down

Plenty of versatile cargo space

Drop the back seats down and you grow your cargo space to 42.3 cubic feet.

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2019 Golf R back seat w. armrest down

4-adults can hit the highway

Overall the interior of the Golf R is spacious for what it is.  4-adults can hit the highway and 5-adults can get across town in relative comfort.

The driver’s seat is a 12-way power-adjustable with lumbar support.  But it doesn’t have memory options which are something I’ve grown to really appreciate as I constantly switch cars with my wife.

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And the other element of the interior I’d love to see in future Golf R’s is ventilated front seats.  The Golf R does heated front seats for 2019 but not ventilated.

Safety & Technology

For being a serious enthusiast car the Volkswagen Golf R for 2019 comes with impressive technology and safety features for its class.

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Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit keeps the Golf R leaning tech-forward and delivers great driver-focused functionality.  I was excited to find that feature in VW’s serious performance vehicle.

 

2019 VW Golf R steering wheel and instrument cluster

VW’s Digital Cockpit in Golf R

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Additionally, safety technology that comes in the 2019 Volkswagen Golf R but not in much of its class includes:

  • Forward Collision Warning and Front Assist (emergency braking)
  • Lane Keeping Assistance
  • Blind Spot Monitoring
  • Rear Traffic Alert

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto keep you infotained.  And the Fender premium audio system does its namesake justice in pumping out said infotainment.

Volkswagen’s People First Warranty

We cannot cover a Volkswagen review with touching on its industry-leading People First Warranty.

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That includes 6-years or 72,000 miles.  It’s a bumper to bumper limited warranty that a dealer like my friends at Ontario VW will be happy to detail for you.

2019 VW Golf R cockpit

Driver-focused ergonomics

But beyond the great longterm coverage and peace of mind is the fact that the warranty is fully transferable.

Driving The 2019 Volkswagen Golf R

So, I really didn’t want my day of test driving the 2019 Volkswagen Golf R to end.  It’s really that fun to drive!

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The car has a ton of power for its size.  Again, ‘Race’ is one of it’s driving modes.  And that’s the mode where I spent most of my time driving.

Race mode provided a comfortable enough drive to be in throughout the day, while also providing power and stability whenever I felt like ‘getting on it.’

And not because I was driving aggressively the entire day.

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But because Race mode provided a comfortable enough drive to be in throughout the day, while also providing power and stability whenever I felt like ‘getting on it.’

2019 Golf R Driving Modes

Race mode is a blast

And yes, when in Race mode, there’s a little engine/exhaust sound pumped through the sound system.  I won’t lie, the little kid in me loved it!

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Another aspect of driving the 2019 VW Golf R was the combination of the power, 4MOTION all-wheel drive, and the dynamic chassis control.

2019 VW Golf R driver profile

It looks great – and performs even better!

Because combining all of that engineering provided for a truly impressive and exceptional handling experience.

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 Is the Volkswagen Golf R Going Away?

Finally, I’m happy to report that the Golf R isn’t going away for good as previously suggested in the rumor-mill… And I believe that came from VW itself at one point.

2019 Golf R driver rear

Coming soon, the Mk8 Golf R!

Nevertheless, the Golf R Mk 8 (aka Mark 8 and aka 9th generation) is now on VW’s rollout plan for 2021.  So, the 2019 Volkswagen Golf Rs will be it for a while.

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Ontario VW – Your SoCal Volkswagen Dealer

So, contact my friends at Ontario Volkswagen about the 2019 VW Golf R while they last!

And my thanks Ontario VW’s General Manager, Earl Reed and Randy Halcomb for providing the Golf R for this review.

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