The 2015 Volkswagen Golf R seems poised to break out of its niche status as the preferred performance ride of dedicated VW fanatics and assume a larger role for the German brand. If ever there was a version of Volkswagen’s mightiest Golf to engage the masses, it’s the all-new R, what with its lighter, larger, and more nimble MQB platform underneath and its sporty, yet not over-the-top styling on the outside. Consider, too, its turbocharged four-cylinder engine and standard all-wheel drive, a combination that’s not front-heavy nor overly thirsty like past iterations of VW’s ultimate hot hatch formula.
2015 could very well be the coming out party for Volkswagen in the top-tier compact performance niche, a chance to leap from past rivals like the Subaru WRX STI and snag would-be buyers of more expensive fare like the Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG. I spent a day behind the wheel of the redesigned Volkswagen Golf R to try and assess just how serious a player the new model is destined to be.