The 2023 Volkswagen Golf R is the hottest hatch driving the German carmaker’s lineup.

Taking the original hot hatch, the VW GTI, to the next level.  All-wheel drive performance including drift mode.  Golf R is ready to be taken to the nearest track – straight from the dealer lot.  However, we do suggest breaking in the motor before getting too crazy.  But you get the idea.

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On the practical side, it seats four and delivers cargo space to boot.  But the automotive enthusiast is this ride’s primary target.

2023 Volkswagen Golf R driver rear

315 hp w/ drift mode

New For 2023 Volkswagen Golf R

While the Golf nameplate is in its 8th generation, aka Mk8 in VW-speak.  Delivering the 5th iteration of the Golf ‘R’ was completely redesigned for 2022.

So the 2023 Volkswagen Golf R is similar to 2022.  With the big new offering being a limited edition 20th Anniversary Edition Golf R.

2023 Volkswagen Golf R Trims And Pricing

The 2023 Volkswagen Golf R is rolling in two different trim options.  They’re both quite similar in everything but cosmetic detail.

Which is something that Volkswagen is known for doing with their various nameplates and model years.  But the cool thing is, down the line in your ownership of the vehicle.  Those special anniversary editions can attract better resale values over time.

2023 VW Golf R trims & starting MSRPs

  • Golf R $44,740
    • 20th Anniversary Edition $45,390

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Engine And Transmissions

Focusing on performance, as the Golf R always does, there’s a single powerplant under the hood.  Regardless of the trim.

It’s a powerful 2.0-liter inline turbocharged/intercooled TSI four-cylinder.  Cranking out 315 horsepower and either 280 or 295 pound-feet of torque.  What’s the difference?  Transmission.

The 2023 VW Golf R’s torque depends on the transmission you go with.  Because manual transmission delivers 280 lb-ft of torque.  While the automatic transmission bumps up to the 295 lb-ft.

Which to go with?  When it comes to automatic versus manual.  Our preference, and most who really love driving, go with manual transmission.  But the Golf R has practical applications.  So, you might want to go automatic.  For example; if you’re planning to sit in traffic congestion with any type of regularity.  Then you might want to lean toward automatic.

2023 VW Golf R Performance Features

With 315 hp and at least 280 lb-ft of torque you’re packing power and ability to perform.  But you get more to help that cause.

Including R-Performance 4MOTION all-wheel drive with torque vectoring.  Optional driving modes include drift!  Variable-ratio electro-mechanical power steering.  Four-wheel independent suspension.

Plus stopping power to match the power to get you going.  That’s vented front disc brakes.  With two-piece cross-drilled rotors.  And vented rear disc brakes.

2023 Volkswagen Golf R wheel and brake caliper

Automatic or manual transmission

Fuel Economy Ratings

While fuel economy probably isn’t a top consideration for most Golf R shoppers.  Buyers can rest assured that they’re getting solid fuel efficiency.  Along with killer performance.  So if you’re looking for reasons to justify the Golf R.  Great MPG is a reason to add in your plus column!

MPG Ratings

  • Manual 20/28/23
  • Automatic 23/30/26


When it comes to the curb weight of the 2023 Volkswagen Golf R, she’s on the lighter side of passenger vehicles.  Which is what you’d expect from a smaller sportier car.  But there are many small cars that are lighter.

Depending on your configuration there’s a difference.  Manual transmission weighs in at 3,404 pounds.  And automatic trans bumps up to 3,481 lbs.

2023 Volkswagen Golf R steering wheel and dash

Heads-up display – standard

2023 Volkswagen Golf R – What Does It Look Like?

The 2023 Golf R looks nearly exactly like the last model year.  Except for the 20th Anniversary Edition.  Which has special badging and tagging inside and out.

But generally, it’s a bold and beautiful four-door hatchback.  Athletic and sitting low to the ground.  With a wider-looking stance in front than in the back.  However, that rear stance optically deceives due to the hatchback roofline.  Which ends at a much higher point than a sedan or fastback roofline.

Exterior dimensions

  • Wheelbase 103.5
  • Track:
    • front 60.7
    • rear 59.7
  • Length 168.9
  • Width 70.4
  • Height 57.7
  • Ground clearance 4.7

*All inches

Inside The 2023 Volkswagen Golf R

A sporty cockpit focusing on the driver’s experience highlights the interior of the 2023 VW Golf R.

Normally we comment on Volkswagen’s attention to detail in the two ‘f’s.’  That’s the fit and finish.  It’s especially noted in the Golf R but we’ll add one more ‘f’ – fun.  Because just looking inside the Golf R makes you want to get behind the wheel and go.

Ambient lighting accenting is adjustable but the cool blue we find most pleasing.  And that’s both functional and a bit just for fun too.

Nappa leather seating surfaces and wrapped steering wheel help keep things cool too.

Interior dimensions

  • Headroom 38.5/38.1
  • Shoulder room 55.9/53.9
  • Hip room 53.4/46.3
  • Legroom 41.2/35.0

*All inches – 1st/2nd rows

And inside is also where the practicality of the Golf R comes into play.  Because it’s performance-focused for sure.  But with four doors and cargo space, it’s a family car too!

With the rear seats folded down, the Golf R delivers 34.5 cubic feet of cargo space.  And even when the rear seats are in use there’s 19.9 cu-ft to work with.

2023 VW Golf R digital dash

Digital Cockpit Pro – standard

Infotainment And Connectivity

And when it comes to tech features, the Golf R shines with a slew of fun stuff standard.  Starting with the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit Pro.  Which includes a 10.23-inch instrument display.  With a setting that can be configured to your liking and saved in numerous profiles.

Wireless smartphone connectivity and charging.  Heads-up display for serious driving and keeping your eyes glued through the windshield.

Plus Volkswagen’s connected car application – Car-Net is included.  With 5 years of free service.

Safety And Driver-Assistance

The Golf R is referred to by Volkswagen as its halo performance vehicle.  It makes sense that all the driver assistance and safety features are being packed in as standard.

Including Volkswagen’s IQ.Drive, front assist with emergency braking.  Blindspot monitoring, adaptive cruise, automatic post-collision braking.  Also, dynamic road sign display, park distance control, lane keep assist, and a lot more.

2023 Volkswagen Golf R front bumper and hood with badge and plate

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Warranty And Maintenance Coverage

Volkswagen includes two years, or 20,000 miles, of scheduled maintenance with every Golf R. Additionally three years, or 36,000 miles, or roadside assistance. Along with four years, or 50,000 miles, of its limited new vehicle warranty.


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