I don’t remember the sound of the latest Golf R’s engine ever being disappointing, but a new Emotional Start function, which fleetingly extends the revs to 2500rpm upon start-up, certainly makes sure it is a lot more present when you hit the start button.
Initial impressions reveal there is not a great deal to differentiate the driving experience of the R20 from the standard Golf R around town. Its reworked engine is outstandingly flexible in Comfort mode, with crisp response and an agreeably smooth action that urges you to use the steering wheel mounted paddles of the gearbox in manual mode whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Switching into Sport alters the character and sound to a more playful level, although it is not until you call up Race that it begins to reveal its ultimate potential. Here, the full effect of the changes Volkswagen R has made to the R20’s engine is more apparent.
The reworked operation of the turbocharger brings added determination to the acceleration out on the open road. The overall response of the engine is quite striking and very much central to its appeal. My sense is that the R20 is smoother, sweeter and altogether more accommodating than the standard Golf R when pushed hard. Revs build rapidly on a loaded throttle.
The fully variable properties of the 4Motion four-wheel drive system allow the limited-run R model to deploy its power with great effect. The electrohydraulic system reacts quickly, apportioning drive between the front and rear axles and, with a so-called R Performance torque vectoring function, between each individual rear wheel.