This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Volkswagen Golf R (14-16) review.

Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

Unlike the previous R32 models, this Golf R doesn't use a 3.2-litre V6, instead it's powered by a lighter four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbo engine. Somewhat confusingly it's not the same engine as the newest Golf GTI, instead it's from the older 2005 GTI and can also be found in the SEAT Leon Cupra. But Volkswagen has managed to boost power to an incredible 271bhp: that's 18bhp more than the last Golf R32.

It also has more pulling power, which all combines to give it a 0-62mph time of just 5.7 seconds while opting for the DSG semi-automatic gearbox drops this even further to 5.5 seconds. To put that into context, it's faster than a Porsche Cayman, yet amazingly the R can average 33mpg, although you're unlikely to see this figure unless you have a very restrained right foot.

It's a truly sublime engine to exploit and although it may not quite have the same muscular character of the previous V6 engines, the central twin exhausts have been tuned to deliver a lovely deep note, which makes it feel different to the GTI. There's seemingly endless acceleration available right up to the red line, while the responsive throttle pedal and snappy, short gearshift all add to the racy feel.

On country lanes it's in its element, but impressively, the engine is still very refined and will happily cruise along at motorway speeds in a relaxed manner. The immense amounts of in-gear pace mean overtaking is easy and you rarely have to change down a gear. The six-speed DSG gearbox, complete with steering-wheel paddleshifts, is an optional extra.

Thanks to the standard 4MOTION four-wheel-drive system, the R is incredibly secure and despite all that power on tap, pulls away cleanly without losing traction, even in very wet conditions - useful when exiting slow bends. As a result the Golf always feels composed, but even with the extra weight of the system, it's still nimble on twisting routes and a real delight when tackling corners.

The R has a unique suspension set-up that is stiffer than the GTI and it also sits lower. This ensures excellent body control while the steering is perfectly weighted and has plenty of feel about it, adding to the feeling of confidence when driving quickly. An optional system called Adaptive Chassis Control (or ACC for short) is available, which allows you to adjust the suspension between comfort or sport settings.