The rules for inclusion are very simple insofar as there are no rules. We didnâ€™t divide the cars into categories or price points or make sure that every major manufacturer was represented.
Instead, we wrote down every possible candidate based simply on the cars that the senior editorial staff and road test team liked most, and weâ€™ll say now that if this had been a list of our top 87 cars, weâ€™d have saved ourselves a whole lot of time and effort.
What actually happened is that we disappeared into a large room with big chairs, poured ourselves a lot of coffee and discussed, debated, argued and just occasionally shouted at each other until weâ€™d whittled it down to 50 cars.
We then all named our individual top fives to find the cars that would take part in our final shootout and placed the remaining 45 in order of preference. Then all we had to do was decamp to Wales for two days of driving with our five favourite cars to find the best of the best.
(VWROC haven't listed them all but here's a sample...)
36, BMW 235i - There are lots of BMWs on this list but, shockingly, not one M car. This is the nearest we came to choosing one â€” a car Â£22k cheaper than an M4 and nicer to drive.
17, Renault Megane RS 275 Trophy - If you donâ€™t know why a front-drive Renault hatch with a rear beam axle is this far up this list, get to your nearest dealer. Drive one and youâ€™ll never ask again.
1, VW Golf R - Itâ€™s a Golf. How could we? Itâ€™s like having the worldâ€™s greatest haute couturiers at your feet and asking if anyone has seen the Boden catalogue. But you can see our thinking. We like good cars and we like quick cars. The Golf is good and the R is quick; QED, we have our winner.
Actually, itâ€™s not like that at all. For the purposes of this exercise, it would be really quite handy if you could somehow forget that it was a Golf at all. If you do not, youâ€™ll think that itâ€™s another fast and fluent Golf, in the finest traditions of all those fast and fluent Golfs since the original GTI let the world believe that VW invented the hot hatchback almost 40 years ago.
Worse, you might believe that itâ€™s like the previous Golf R, only a bit quicker, and then youâ€™ll be struggling to see how it even made it into the top 50, let alone won the whole contest outright.
Think of it, then, as another car, a breed apart, and take our word that whatever it may look like, whatever it may be based upon, this is a whole new level of hot hatchery. And because hot hatches are what people who need a practical car but love to drive actually go out and buy, that makes it quite an important car, too.
It is no exaggeration to say that when you dial up Race mode and fire it at a tricky road, it doesnâ€™t feel like any kind of Golf at all.
Indeed, and in the same way as Nascar racers have superficially familiar road car bodies draped over race car muscle and bone, so this R feels almost like a silhouette Golf. It offers not just raw speed but also far more valuable gifts such as grip, composure and feel.
How do we know how good this car is? Because the tougher the test you set it, the better it feels; thatâ€™s the test that cannot be ducked. There are lots of cars that might feel good when hunkered down in a quick, smooth, constant-radius curve. But what about one thatâ€™s narrow, treacherous and teeming with crafty changes to camber and surface? A decent British B-road, in other words. Thatâ€™s a challenge of a different magnitude and one that the Golf R tackles with indecent relish.
Of course, being merely capable in such conditions is only half the battle. It is the most important quality, because without the confidence thatâ€™s a natural byproduct of such excellence, you never want to drive it like that in the first place.
But then comes the other stuff: the throttle response that youâ€™d simply not ascribe to a small, four-cylinder engine through which a great deal of turbo boost is being blown. Youâ€™d expect it to sound as interesting as a digital radio in a tunnel. In fact, it sounds fabulous.
Then thereâ€™s the balance. This car has four-wheel drive, so you expect it to understeer, but it doesnâ€™t. It just steers, jabbing into the apex with its quick, accurate steering, swivelling its hips into neutrality or better if you lift off the throttle. Itâ€™s not just capable; itâ€™s massively, implausibly involving, too.
Sooner or later the road will end, youâ€™ll take a deep breath, press a couple of buttons and the car will go back to being an everyday, common-or-garden, quiet, comfortable, well built and spacious Volkswagen Golf.
Doubtless there have been other hatchbacks as incisive as this and some, perhaps, as easy to live with. But these talents have never been combined in the same car until now.
This may just look like a Golf in running gear with a sharper set of spikes, but itâ€™s not: itâ€™s a landmark in real-world performance car design. And in its very best form â€“ with three doors and a manual gearbox, just like the one you see here â€“ itâ€™s yours for less than Â£30,000.
Unfortunately that accolade goes to Sebastien Ogier in his WRC Polo R.
So yes golf owners youâ€™ve been usurped by a Polo. In 2013, their debut year, they were the first team ever to win the Constructorsâ€™ and Driversâ€™ championship on their first attempt, and theyâ€™ve managed it again this season.
They were dominant in the 2014 season winning 12 of the 13 races. But will they continue to be so dominant in the 2015 season? We think they will be. The first race of the 2015 season starts on the 25th January 2015 in Monte Carlo, and theyâ€™re feeling pretty confident about it.
Volkswagen has lifted the lid on the type of technology we could be about to see on the VW Golf Mk8.
The next-generation hatch, revealed in our exclusive images, will not only be lighter than the current model, but more powerful, more economical and offer significantly smarter technology to give greater connectivity â€“ the likes of which could set the Golf as the classâ€™ benchmark five-door hatchback.
In keeping with VWâ€™s recently revealed five-year model cycle, the new Golf should arrivein 2017 with a facelift of the current Mk7 due next year.
VW has spilled the beans to Auto Express on the type of technology itâ€™s preparing to roll out in its model range in the coming few years â€“ and weâ€™ve got it on good authority that the vast majority of it will make its way into the Golf.
Heading up the long list of clever new kit is the worldâ€™s first 10-speed DSG gearbox. Volkswagen has already found great success with its seven-speed auto, and the brand has now developed a version that offers three extra gears.
Itâ€™s the same size as the current seven-speed DSG and will fit easily into the VW Groupâ€™s MQB platform â€“ which underpins everything from the Audi TT to the posh new Passat. The 10-speed will also put less stress on the engine, thus improving CO2 emissions and reducing fuel use.
Sources told us that the box, which is designed for peak torque of 550Nm, will make its way into the Golf Mk8 GTI, GTD and R, while the seven-speed will be offered further down the range. VW also revealed that a more potent version of the 2.0-litre BiTDI diesel engine, recently revealed in the new Passat, could be destined for the next Golf GTD.
Keeping the green trend, VW is currently investigating the possibility of adding â€˜Mild Hybridsâ€™ to its small-engined petrol Golfs. If the tech gets the green light, it will appear in the Mk8.
Meanwhile, the e-Golf is set to appear in the new line-up, too, with a 25 per cent improvement in range. This could arrive soon after the Mk8â€™s launch. With its raft of green technology â€“ revealed in our gallery â€“ the new Golf will be crucial in helping the VW Group in its bid to become the worldâ€™s most sustainable manufacturer by 2018.
A new promotional video from VW shows the current WRC champ, Sebastian Ogier and his mountain biking pals, racing another 7R hatch up a mountain pass.
Apart from the fact we love the new 7R Wagon, and we have to admit it looks fantastic in this video, our geeky sides couldn't help but notice a couple of interesting features. Are they black Pretoria wheels on the 7R Hatch?Yes we think they are! And what sort of cool, mid-positioned panoramic roof is on that Wagon?
Anyway, enough "geeking", tell us what you think of it...
Starting with VWâ€™s familiar 2.0-liter TSI 4-cylinder engine, the R400 concept develops an additional 102 horsepower, for a grand total of 394 horsepower at a lofty 7,200 RPM. Torque is a hefty 332 lb.-ft., but with a curb weight of just over 3100 pounds, the R400 concept is slated to make the 0-60 mph sprint in 3.9 seconds. The R400â€™s â€œoff-the-lineâ€ capability is aided by the R400â€™s performance-oriented 4MOTION AWD system, which can route power to the front axle or split power between front and rear depending on driving circumstances.
In addition, we can praise the transmission gods for VWâ€™s decision to keep a 6-speed manual on the R400, a decision that should make the carâ€™s 173 mph top speed all the more satisfying.
VW Golf R400
VW has included some impressive performance bits on the R400 concept. Brake-based torque vectoring differentials are housed in both axles, while the electronic stability control receives an extremely aggressive â€œraceâ€ mode, intended for high-speed track driving. Suspension and tire setup are the same as in the Golf R, though the R400 model has been lowered an additional 0.8 inches. And the R400â€™s â€œCadizâ€ 19-inch rims were designed with performance in mind, incorporating black inserts that serve double-duty as air cooling vanes.
Interesting, too, are the design cues that the R400 uses to harken back to great racing Golfs of the past. The hatchâ€™s flared front bumper is reminiscent of the 1988 Rally Golf G60, while the rear diffuserâ€™s twin integrated exhaust pipes smack of the 2002 Golf R32, the Golf that started the â€œRâ€ line. Even the honeycomb grille design on the front bumper screams motorsport, showing that the R400 is an important embodiment of VWâ€™s storied racing heritage.
Like all premium performance cars, the Golf R400 has ample interior amenitiesâ€“the race-inspired sport seats are covered with Alcantara, while door accents and the passenger side of the dashboard receive a treatment of carbon fiber. Of course, to match the R400â€™s signature neon yellow exterior accents, yellow contrast stitching provides the interiorâ€™s finishing touch.
No details on price or release date have been given about the R400, but stay tuned on TFLcar.com for more developments.
Please enjoy this TFLcar insider video of the Golf R SportWagen from the 2014 LA Auto Show.
Upto the B-pillar, the Estate looks similar to the Golf hatch and its the boot from where Estate differs. The exterior features a new R design bumper, bi-xenon headlights with integrated daytime running lights, a high-gloss black diffuser, â€˜aero flapsâ€™ on the D-pillars, cherry-red taillights, four chrome-plated tailpipe trims and LED number plate illumination. Since the car comes under Estate segment, expect a large boot space of 605-litres which can be further extended to 1,620-litres.
Inside the cabin, the Golf R Estate shares its styling cues from Golf hatch. With alcantara upholstery, R logos on the seats & steering wheel and ambient lighting, the car is apt for both commuters and distance travellers.
The Golf R Estate is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged TSI petrol engine which churns power of 295bhp at 5,500 to 6,200 rpm and peak torque of 380Nm at 1,800 rpm right up to 5,500 rpm. The engine is coupled to six-speed dual-clutch gearbox (DSG) to the permanent 4MOTION all-wheel drive. With the power distribution across all four wheels, maximum traction and performance is what the car promises.
Talking about the performance, the Golf R Estate can achieve 0 to 50mph (80kmph) in just 3.8 seconds and 0 to 62mph (100kmph) in 5.1 seconds with an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph (250kmph). The vehicle is also fuel efficient as it gives 7.0* l/100 km â€“ or 40.4* mpg â€“ equating to CO2 emissions of 163* g/km.
The base-level 2015 Golf R, which comes standard with Driving Mode Selection, a 5.8-inch touchscreen radio, LED reading lights, ambient lighting, an MDI with iPhone connectivity, keyless entry with push-button ignition, a rearview camera and automatic dual-zone climate control, starts out at $36,595 with the six-speed DSG transmission. For those who need some extra goodies, VW also offers the Golf with DCC active damping control and navigation for $39,090 with the DSG transmission.
Volkswagen claims that the will hit dealers in first quarter of 2015, but it will be limited initially to only four-door versions of the aforementioned models. While there is no official confirmation, VW alludes to the fact that there will be additional U.S.-bound Golf Rs offered in the future, one of which we know will be with the six-speed manual transmission.
In case you missed its debut earlier this year, the 2015 VW Golf R is the most powerful Golf ever to roll out of Germany. It carries a new EA888, turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of twist. With the dual-clutch transmission, the Golf R can sprint to 60 mph in just 4.9 seconds, while the six-cog manual is slightly slower at 5.1 seconds. These lightning-fast acceleration times owe a lot of thanks to the Golf Râ€™s standard all-wheel-drive system.
In addition to being super fast, the 2015 Golf R is also fairly thrifty, as it delivers up to 30 mpg on the highway.Keep it locked here, and weâ€™ll bring you the full 2015 Golf R pricing details once VW releases them.
The R is making its public debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show next week. VW says it will go on sale in most markets late this year.
If it hits U.S. dealerships in 2015, it'll probably be called a 2016.
VW says the heart of the car is "a newly configured, 296- horsepower TSI engine," that's rated 280 lbs.-ft. of torque and should get 18% better fuel-economy. Those are German-market ratings, and the U.S. are expected to be a bit lower.
The current-generation U.S.-market Golf R is rated 256 hp, 243 pounds-feet of torque. Mileage ratings are 19 mpg in the city, 27 on the highway, 22 in combined city/highway driving. If VW's mpg forecast is right, the new R should have ratings of about 22/32/26 mpg.
A new version of VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive keeps the hefty amount of power from simply smoking the tires, as would be likely if it were front-drive only, as the basic Golf is. To distinguish the R from the Golf GTI, also a high-performance iteration of the Golf, the R has unique air intakes, different bumpers and side spats, four-pipe exhaust outlets.
The most-recent R -- discontinued during the 2013 model run; there is no 2014 -- had a starting price of $34,795 in the U.S. No word about U.S. pricing of the next-generation R
If VW keeps its promise, The Golf R should be the last model that puts the U.S. last on the launch list. Staggered launches are a source of aggravation for U.S. dealers and buyers, who don't like waiting for something on sale elsewhere. VW says it needs to finish a factory in Puebla, Mexico, in order to better synchronize U.S. launches with those elsewhere.
Once Puebla's done -- early next year, VW says -- production of Golf models for North and South America will be shifted there from Germany, making them available more-or-less simultaneously in all markets. Puebla will start production with the seventh-generation Golf, sometimes called G7, unveiled at the Paris Motor Show a year ago. The new R will be based on that new Golf.
Golf is VW's best-selling car worldwide,. but its sales in the U.S. are down more than 20% this year and are a fraction of VW's Jetta and Passat sales.
Volkswagen has decided to add a new model to its scorching 'R' range, and it's the most practical R car yet. The Golf Estate has been given the R treatment and our spy shots show it completely undisguised.
Expected to be launched at the Essen Motor Show in December, the hot estate is shown undergoing testing at the Nurburgring. Sources claim that the idea for a Golf R Estate has been thrown around for a while but Volkswagen has finally decided to put the high-performance load-lugger into mass production.
The standard Golf Estate is a fairly plain-looking affair but this one adds far more by way of visual aggression, with the deeper 'R' front bumper and side skirts. The quad exhausts look unusual on such a boxy estate, but hint at the immense performance on offer.
With the R Estate using the same four-wheel drive chassis and 2.0-litre turbocharged engine as the Golf R hatchback, it's unlikely that performance will suffer too much from the 100kg of extra weight that's likely to be present compared to the hatch.
Power is rated at 296bhp and there's a healthy 380Nm of torque, which means the family-friendly R model should have the measure of it's closest rival, the Ford Focus ST estate.
Expect acceleration to be down a little bit from the 0.62mph time of 5.1 seconds for the hatch (4.9 for the DSG), but the top speed should still reach the 155mph limiter.
Prices will probably add around Â£800 or so to the Â£30,000 pricetag of the standard Golf R hatch, which isn't a significant premium when you consider the extra practicality on offer.
The flourishing MSA British GT Championship, the UKâ€™s leading sportscar race series, has chosen a Volkswagen Racing-modified Golf 7 R as its Safety Car.
Leading a grid of over thirty GT3 and GT4 sports cars from marques such as Aston Martin, McLaren, Ferrari and Porsche, the Championship needed a car with the performance necessary to safely lead these supercars on track in any conditions; quickly, reliably and safely. With live television coverage at some events, it is vital that the Safety Car never, ever lets the Championship down.
Using the new Golf R in manual 6-speed form as our starting point, we have thrown the full catalogue of our VWR Performance Upgrades at the car, parts which are proven from our own racing programme. Alongside these upgrades, we are also taking the chance to fast-track our test and development process with a few of our final prototype parts.
â€œWe need every one of our VWR Performance Upgrades to be able to shine at high speed on track, time after time, under pressure to perform with total reliability,â€ explained Volkswagen Racing UK MD Sam Roach. â€ Usually, thatâ€™s in a race environment, so itâ€™s a great testament for our uprated Golf R to be chosen for such a high profile and prestigious task.â€
With the new R replacing a Nissan GTR, the Safety Car drivers were highly impressed by the ability that the modifications give the car.