The fastest-accelerating production Golf ever made is sure to bring a smile to the face of motorists with a thirst for power.

The Golf R's turbocharged 2.0-litre engine makes a fantastic sound as is it dishes out a meaty 300bhp.

The six-speed manual version of the car, tested here, goes from 0-62mph in just 5.1 seconds, while the direct-shift gearbox variety of the vehicle, using an electronically controlled dual-clutch multiple-shaft manual gearbox, is even quicker at an impressive 4.9 seconds.

For four generations now, Volkswagen has offered a high-performance Golf that goes above and beyond even the legendary GTI, and that remains the case with this hugely exciting Golf R.

The R is based on the current seventh-generation Golf, but has been transformed into a machine with an even more sporty feel. Its four-wheel-drive system, turbocharged power and dynamic look make the vehicle feel much like a world-class rally car.

Testing such a powerful vehicle on slippery Autumn roads, covered in leaves, can have its pitfalls. But the corner-hugging grip provided by the R's four-wheel drive, aided by other well-designed features such as sports suspension, lowered by 20mm, meant there was little to fear.

In fact, such is the quality of the car's general set-up that the normal rules of not braking or accelerating too heavily while in a corner largely went out of the window.

The latest Golf R boasts large alloy wheels, a fairly discreet bodykit and ‘R’ badges on the outside, and is finished in a classy deep blue colour scheme. The double twin exhaust pipes were my favourite visual feature.

In general terms, its appearance is certainly that little bit special, but without being over-the-top or garish.

Inside the cabin, the sporty feel continues thanks to the addition of special sports seats and a mean-looking three-spoke steering wheel.

One of the R's more interesting features is the so-called 'driver profile selection' system, which offers several programmes to allow drivers to match their car settings to their desired driving style.

On this model, you could chose between Eco, Normal, Individual and Race, with the eco function providing very reasonable fuel economy while still offering decent speed.

In Normal mode, it drivers much like a regular Golf, albeit with much more power.

However, if you're minded to buy an R, it's fairly likely that the sound of the engine and the superb acceleration offered by Race mode mean you'll find your hand wandering towards that setting!

This, the most aggressive mode, provides super-sharp steering, firm but well-judged suspension and deeply impressive grip.

In terms of space and practicality, the Golf R manages to be virtually as practical as the standard car despite the extra performance. In the cabin, there's enough head and legroom to suit even the tallest drivers while you can fit tall adults in the rear seats too.

The in-car entertainment system is also pretty funky. No more boredom while waiting to give somebody a lift. Instead, you can put on a DVD, sit back and watch a film on the car's central console.

If you've still got children, but are looking for a car that can also be fast and fun when the conditions allow, then the R is an appealing option. It can do all the dull stuff in a perfectly civilised manner, but can also out-accelerate much more expensive cars.


Model: Volkswagen Golf R 5-door manual

Price: £34,190 as tested

Engine: 2.0-litre petrol unit producing 300bhp and 280lb/ft of torque?Transmission: six-speed manual gearbox, four-wheel drive

Performance: 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds with a maxiumum speed of 155mph (electronically limited)?CO2 emissions: 165g/km

Economy: 40.9mpg combined

Insurance group: 34E

Warranty: 3 years/60,000 miles

Will's ratings