Just last week that we pitched Audi S3 against Mercedes-AMG A35, keen to establish which was top dog ahead of the Mk8 Golf R hitting the road. Now we're one step closer to seeing how the VW fits into the hierarchy, with a price confirmed at £39,270. Unsurprisingly, that makes it broadly comparable with its rivals, the S3 range starting at £37,900 and the A35 at £38,825. For both Audi and AMG it's worth noting that's just the very start, too, with a Premium Plus A35 from £45,260 and a forthcoming Vorsprung S3 that will push that car over £40k as well.
For now there's only one significant option for the Golf mentioned, the £2,000 'R-Performance Package'. Expect it to be popular; not only does it bring 19-inch alloy wheels in place of the standard 18s, it increases the top speed to 168mph and adds both the 'Drift' and 'Special' modes to the drive settings list. 'Drift' we're familiar with by now, which manipulates the R-Performance Torque Vectoring rear axle for a sensible amount of silliness (away from the public road, of course).
'Special' is a profile VW has optimised for the Nordschleife, similarly to the 'Individual' preset in the old Golf GTI Clubsport S but now rather more obvious. It will sit above 'Race' mode in the R with the Performance Package optioned in, so it'll be interesting to see how the two compare. Additional extras confirmed for the R (but without prices yet announced) include an Akrapovic exhaust, head-up display, sunroof and Harmon/Kardon sound system.
That's not all for fast Golf fans, though, as the new GTI Clubsport is also on sale from today. It costs £37,215; for reference a new Megane Trophy DCT - most likely the Golf's closest rival as another five-door, automatic, track focused hatch - costs £36,995, so they're virtually inseparable.
Standard Clubsport equipment includes seats bespoke to the model, Digital Cockpit Pro and Discover Media nav. VW is promising a car that "turns the dial up" on the GTI experience, for "even more involvement and focus", which certainly sounds encouraging. With both Clubsport and R on sale from today, we expect UK deliveries to be some point early in the new year. However, with Brexit looming, a formal date hasn't yet been announced. We'll keep you posted!
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