To the untrained eye there’s little difference between the Golf GTI and Golf R. Under its subtly styled skin, the Golf R packs all-wheel drive, considerably more power and a more upscale interior. The GTI, however, stays true to its roots with its torquey engine and front-wheel-drive layout. So which of the two cars offers a better driving experience? Road Test Editor Kurt Niebuhr drives them back to back to find out.
Q: What are the main differences between the GTI and the Golf R?
A: The Golf R has all-wheel drive and more horsepower, but most of the differences setting the R apart from the GTI are subtle. For example, the Golf R has different exterior styling, different seats and a digital instrument panel. Oh, and depending on how the GTI is equipped, the Golf R can cost nearly $15,000 more.
Q: Does the Golf R get a different engine?
A: Kind of. The engine is the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (EA888 in VW-speak) as what’s in the GTI, but it uses a different cylinder head, turbocharger and exhaust valves and has a host of other tweaks to give it more power.
Q: What’s the difference in price between the two?
A: A basic VW GTI will set you back just over $26K. The GTI in this video, with the Autobahn trim level, cost nearly $36K. The Golf R starts, and finishes, around $40K. The one in this video has the optional dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Read our Golf R review here:
Read our GTI review here:
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