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Golf lessons: 20 years of VW R

2 years ago

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Dan Prosser | Ti co-founder


12 December 2022

You need only half a mile on a decent road to realise how much progress Volkswagen’s R performance division has made in 20 years. Half a mile after that, you understand how little of it has been in the right direction.

That’s a long way to travel in a single mile. While there are similarities between the very first Volkswagen to wear the R badge – the Mk4 R32, which arrived in the summer of 2002 – and the most recent, when you drive them back-to-back you’re struck most of all by how different they are. The Golf R32 is quite challenging to drive at speed across these roads that cling to soaring Welsh hillsides, while the brand new Golf R 20 Years needs no real skill or effort to make it cover ground at a frightening rate.

You flick the paddles, turn the wheel, squeeze the accelerator pedal and realise you couldn’t overwhelm the new car on the public highway if you wanted to. It is imperious, unflustered and flawlessly composed – and when you’re offered one final run in either car, you walk right by the Golf R and choose the old boy instead. Despite its own shortcomings (and how much slower it is), the R32 is just that much more enjoyable to drive.

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