This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Volkswagen Golf R (14-16) review.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

The interior of the Golf R is less overtly sporting than the GTI and does without the red stitching on the gear lever and steering wheel while the tartan seat fabric is also absent. It still has a performance car feel thanks to a thick-rimmed, flat-bottomed steering wheel with gloss black inserts and supportive sports seats with Alcantara trim while the needles on the dials are blue (rather than the red ones in the GTI).

It is rather understated, especially compared to the aggressive exterior styling, but there's no denying the quality with all the switches and controls working with superb precision. The optional touchscreen sat nav system is impressive too. It's easy to use and features a 30GB hard drive that allows you to store music from CDs onto it. It can also play DVDs when the car is stationary.

Few extreme hot hatches such as this are particularly comfortable and the Golf R is no exception. The lowered and stiffer suspension is good for cornering but it does mean an often uncomfortable ride over uneven or bumpy roads where the R tends to fidget and bounce. It's much happier on motorway-type surfaces where it's as quiet and smooth as a normal Golf.

The engine doesn't have the same distinctive sound as the older V6, but it still delivers a sporty note along with the central twin exhaust pipes, which is enjoyable but not intrusive. Like the standard Golf, there's plenty of interior space for four passengers and the sports seats offer great side support but aren't too narrow or firm, making them ideal for enthusiastic cornering and for long journeys.

Optional Recaro bucket seats are available finished in leather and black Alcantara while all models come with climate control as standard.