The Volkswagen Golf R has been around for over two decades now. It’s the most powerful and most hardcore version of the popular hatchback, which is also the fastest VW R model around the Nurburgring. The Golf R is one of our favorite hot hatches of all time, but which of its three generations is the best? There’s no better way to find out than a live drag race.
This is no ordinary Golf. Each of these performance hatches has been heavily modified with hardware and software upgrades. Starting with the oldest of the three, the Golf R MK6 comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with Stage 3 modifications, delivering a peak output of 450 horsepower (335 kilowatts). Improvements from the factory four-cylinder include a new turbocharger, injectors, intercooler, exhaust system, high-pressure fuel pump and more. The result is a vehicle that looks somewhat refined but hides a lot of power under the hood.
Next is the seventh generation Golf in R form with a Stage 2 tuning kit for a maximum power of 420 hp (313 kW). The vehicle is of a facelifted version of the hatch and has a new intercooler and new ECU and TCU software. It may be slightly lower on power than the older Golf R in this race but it is the lightest of the three, providing a decent power-to-weight ratio of 287 hp per tonne.
Finally, there is also the latest generation Golf R which is also powered by a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder turbo engine. It is the competition’s least strong contender as it only featured Stage 1 modifications to the factory, which included a new carbon fiber intake and new ECU software. Being the newest of the bunch, it’s also the heaviest with a power-to-weight ratio of 253 hp per tonne. All three cars have an all-wheel-drive system and a dual-clutch automatic transmission.
So, which Golf R won? This is quite a tricky question. All three cars are very close in performance and the difference at the finish line is minimal. We won’t leak the video and tell you the results, but we’ll just say that the most powerful car isn’t always the fastest.