The heritage of the Mk7 Golf R is well-established, if somewhat convoluted. It begins with the front-drive Mk3 Golf VR6, moves through the all-wheel-drive Mk4 and Mk5 R32 cars before emerging as a definitive ‘R’ badge on the boot lid of the Mk6. The latter established the formula: 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, discrete styling and all-weather performance - but wasn’t universally adored in the six-cylinder wake of its predecessors.
The Mk7 R fixed that. Built on Volkswagen’s newer, stiffer, lighter MQB platform, and furnished with the latest EA888 derivative of 2.0-litre TSI, the all-new Golf delivered 300hp to the road in wonderfully neutral, beguiling style. Twinned with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG, the car delivered magnificently on the concept of a usable, sophisticated and pleasantly fast hot hatch.
Factor in benign VW design and the Mk7's ergonomically pleasing cabin - plus the desirable option of adaptive dampers - and the range-topper virtually sold itself. Prices remain relatively firm despite the volume of cars sold, but solid used examples are now easily attainable for new supermini money. There are more downright thrilling hot hatches available, perhaps - but none with the owner-satisfying bandwidth of the Mk7 Golf R.