If you bought a Golf R recently, then well done. Not only did you get the most usable, nice-to-be-in hot hatch currently on sale, you also got it with 310 horses issuing from the 2.0-litre EA888 engine - an output that all subsequent examples will fail to live up to.
Instead, the R will now be rated as a 300hp model, a reduction apparently essential to satisfying the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). There's no official description of the technical changes rendered, but our brothers and sisters at Autocar reckon it's to do with the fitment of a more restrictive exhaust system; one better equipped to curb the engine's nitrogen oxide emissions.
A Volkswagen spokesman noted: "In the context of new homologations, there are adaptions for the exhaust gas treatment and for the power output. From now on, all Golf R models will feature a 300hp engine."
That ought to be slightly galling news for anyone with an R on order as the manufacturer says it will be contacting customers to inform them that they're about to receive a very mildly detuned version of the car they signed up for.
In the long run, though, it's probably not worth getting our collective knickers in too much of a twist. After all, prior to its recent facelift, the R was rated as a 300hp car - and no-one complained much about the performance then; just as no-one could really claim to discern an improvement as scant as 10hp afterwards.
Instead it's the deletion of the entry-level manual gearbox option that leaves a longer term bad taste in the mouth. Granted, there's nothing much wrong with the seven-speed DSG we're left with - but it does inevitably make for a slightly more aloof hot hatch than we'd really like. With a third pedal and VW's slippery six-speed lever to hand, the R was a proper, premium-grade driver's car. Without it, that claim is somewhat muddied.
Added to which, in time you won't be able to buy a three-door version either. Both line-up changes are tenuously linked to customer demand (tenuous because Volkswagen UK previously sold the R like ice cream at the beach) and mean that the GTI Performance will now be the first port of call for anyone looking for a brand new non-five door, non-automatic fast Golf.
1 / 2