2023 Volkswagen Golf R Review

By Alexi Falson on 08 May 2023
image for 2023 Volkswagen Golf R Review Volkswagen’s Golf R is a fabulous on-paper option for buyers in the market for a practical hatchback that will happily set your hair on fire when provoked.

Volkswagen is responsible for creating some of the original hot hatchbacks back in the day, and in its latest form, the company looks to have perfected its recipe with the latest Golf R.

One question remains for Golf R buyers, though, and that’s whether all of its performance enhancements come at a sacrifice of its comfort and practicality on a daily commute or family trip.

Let’s take a closer look at the Golf R range to find out.


  • Immense performance

  • Agile and confidence-inspiring handling

  • Versatile package is fast yet easy to drive around town

  • Spacious and practical interior with a large boot in Golf R Wagon


  • Touch-sensitive dials can prove fiddly

  • Steering lacks feel compared to some rivals

  • Rising price tags

2023 volkswagen golf r wagon

OnlineAuto Rating 9/10

Starting Price: $65,990

OnlineAuto Savings: Enquire now

How Much Does It Cost?

Volkswagen’s Golf R range kicks off from $65,990 before on-road costs for the Golf R hatchback, while the Golf R Wagon is priced at $69,990 before on-road costs.

How Much Can OnlineAuto Save You?

Using OnlineAuto’s car buying service in Australia, you could save by using one of our car experts to help you find the best new car for you.

Volkswagen Golf (R 4MOTION) Specifications

Model Date 2023
Model GOLF
Variant R 4MOTION
Transmission 7 SP AUTO DIRECT SHI
Drive AWD
Engine TDFI
Engine capacity 1984
Engine configuration VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM / 16 valves
Engine RPM 5600 / 2000
Cylinders T4
Torque 400
KW 235
Fuel tank size 55.0
Fuel usage specs 7.8 / 0
CO2 177
ANCAP security rating 5

For more details and other variants, check Volkswagen Golf car page.

What Features Does the Golf R Have?

The Volkswagen Golf R comes riding on a set of 19-inch alloy wheels, and receives a number of performance enhancements.

These upgrades include a 4Motion all-wheel drive system with active torque vectoring, upgraded brake discs, adaptive dampers, a sports exhaust system, six driving modes, Matrix LED headlights, Nappa leather upholstery and a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster for the driver.

These features are atop the Golf’s existing features list; if you’re interested in finding out more about the complete range of features, get in touch with one of our car-buying specialists who can give you the full run-down.

2023 volkswagen golf r wagon interior

2023 volkswagen golf r wagon drive modes

2023 volkswagen golf r wagon parking camera

2023 volkswagen golf r wagon gauge cluster

Range Features:

  • 19-inch alloy wheels

  • Matrix LED headlights

  • 4Motion all-wheel drive system with torque vectoring

  • Adaptive dampers

  • Upgraded front brakes

  • Sports exhaust system

  • Nappa leather upholstery

  • 10.5-inch digital instrument cluster

  • 10.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto

Is the Golf R Fun and Comfortable to Drive?

Sitting at the top of Volkswagen’s performance hatch and wagon ranges, the Golf R receives a powerful turbocharged engine paired with upgraded adaptive suspension and brakes.

These upgrades give the Golf R a far more aggressive personality than the rest of the Golf range without sacrificing too much in way of comfortable everyday driving.

Power for the hatchback variant comes supplied by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing a very impressive 235kW of power and 400Nm of torque.

All that power is thrown to the wheels via VW’s seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and the 4Motion all-wheel drive system, with 0-100km/h sprints sitting at a very healthy 4.8 seconds for the hatch and 4.9 seconds for the wagon.

2023 volkswagen golf r wagon rear suspension

“A family-friendly weapon that can rocket to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds” Craig - OnlineAuto Car Buying Specialist

When pushed in the corners, the Golf R responds immediately with an extreme amount of grip from the front axle, while the clever torque vectoring system throws power between the wheels to the driver in control.

2023 volkswagen golf r wagon wheels

VW’s active driving dynamics are clever but do well to let the driver feel as though they’re in control while the AWD system keeps everything planted and the sports exhaust crackles and pops to keep excitement levels high.

As you settle back into more mundane daily driving, the Golf R is happy to dial everything back and become a sleeper hatchback or wagon, giving it two distinctly different personalities that make it a very sensible commuter option for families.

While it might not be the most comfortable option for a long holiday road trip on rough Australian B-roads, it is, without doubt, one of the most versatile and exciting packages that doesn’t force you to leave your family behind.

Is it Fuel Efficient?

All of the Golf R’s performance has come at the cost of fuel efficiency over the rest of the Golf range, though fuel economy figures aren’t as steep as you might expect from a car that can hit 100km/h in less than five seconds.

Officially, the Golf R hatchback’s fuel economy figures are rated at 7.8L per 100km on a combined cycle, which actually drops to 7.4L per 100km in the Golf R Wagon.

2023 volkswagen golf r wagon ea888 engine

Is it Practical and Spacious?

Volkswagen is one of the best in the game when it comes to making a fast and practical small car, and the latest Golf R Wagon and Hatchback variants are proof it’s still atop the leaderboard.

Step inside and you’re treated to wonderfully comfortable Nappa leather sports seats and door surrounds, with some added side bolstering to hold you in place during harsh cornering.

There’s an impressive amount of headroom on offer in both the hatch and wagon variants, so tall drivers won’t have any issues getting comfortable in the cockpit of the Golf R.

“The Golf R is one of the most exciting packages that doesn’t force you to leave the family behind.” Arnaud - OnlineAuto Car Buying Specialist

Technology-wise, the Golf R receives a 10.5-inch digital instrument cluster for the driver and a 10-inch infotainment system, along with wireless smartphone charging and an ambient lighting package that offers 30 different colours to choose from.

Practical touches for the front of the cabin include a small storage tray beside the gear lever, as well as a charging pad inside the compact storage area at the base of the dash, a pair of cup holders and a decent amount of storage inside the folding armrest.

2023 volkswagen golf r wagon console

Move to the rear of the hatchback and you’ll find more than enough leg and headroom for even tall adults, like the rest of the Volkswagen Golf range, while the wagon offers even more room in the second row, making it by far the most practical option for families.

The Golf R in wagon form measures 350mm longer than the hatchback, which means it offers a slightly longer wheelbase and more interior space than the hatch, though the hatchback is more than up for the family challenge.

2023 volkswagen golf r wagon seats

2023 volkswagen golf r wagon rear seats

“Boot space nearly doubles to 611L in the Golf R Wagon” Craig - OnlineAuto Car Buying Specialist

The rear of the Golf R features a set of climate control vents, a pair of USB-C ports, a folding arm rest with cup holders and a pair of ISOFIX anchors on each of the outward seats, with three top tether mounts for forward and rear-facing child seats.

2023 volkswagen golf r wagon rear climate

Finally, the Golf R range has a boot measuring in at 374L in the hatchback variant, which nearly doubles to 611L in the Golf R wagon.

2023 volkswagen golf r wagon boot

Is it Safe?

The VW Golf R has been awarded ANCAP’s maximum five-star safety rating, scoring 95% for adult protection, 89% for child protection, 76% for pedestrian protection and 80% for safety assist.

As standard, the Golf R receives a full suite of active safety equipment, including adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, multi-collision braking, front and rear cross-traffic alerts, blind-spot monitoring, a rear-view camera with front and rear parking sensors, a parking assistance feature and nine airbags.

Our Verdict: Is the Golf R Worth it?

The Golf R is an extremely impressive package, one that is capable of making you feel like you’re a racer when pushed- while becoming refined and reasonably comfortable on a daily drive at the press of a button.

Volkswagen has perfected its recipe when it comes to creating a practical hatch or wagon that doesn’t feel like a sports car while commuting, yet throws you back into your seat and offers immense grip in the corners that makes for one of the best hot hatches or wagons currently available here in Australia.

As a result, we highly recommend adding the Golf R to your shortlist if you’re in the market for a fast dual-purpose commuter or family car.

If you’re tossing up options for a fast and practical family car, reach out to one of our expert car-buying specialists here at OnlineAuto who can help find your dream car at the best possible price.

2023 volkswagen golf r wagon lookout

Five Specs You Need to Know

  1. Five-year, unlimited KM warranty

  2. 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder produces 235kW/400Nm (420Nm in Golf R Wagon)

  3. 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds (4.9 seconds for Golf R Wagon)

  4. Hatch’s 374L boot space increases to 611L in wagon

  5. 7.8L/100km fuel economy in hatch drops to 7.4L/100km in Golf R Wagon

Volkswagen Golf R Competition

Volkswagen Golf R

Mercedes-AMG A35 4Matic
BMW M135i
Toyota GR Corolla
Audi S3
Hyundai i30N

If you’re in the market for a fast and practical family car, reach out to our team of car-buying specialists who can help get you not only the best price, but save you time and stress in the process.


Alexi Falson

Alexi is an automotive journalist and road tester hailing from Byron Bay. He has an affection for both cars and motorbikes, a great admiration for the simplicity of old-school engineering, and a fascination of new technology making its way to modern cars. When he's not road testing, you'll find him surfing, hiking or helping people find their dream cars.

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