The interior is more convincing. Avoid the optional panoramic sunroof and there should be more than adequate leg- and headroom for adult passengers in both rows, and a really useful-sized boot that offers some under-floor stowage space, with a pretty expansive loadbay area above it that looks easily big enough to swallow bulky loads.
The driving position is mostly good, and the primary control layout likewise. Perceived cabin quality is fairly high, although some dashboard mouldings are harder and plainer than VW’s old standards for such things may lead you to hope they might be. Like all Golfs, the R goes pretty big on digital technology, with configurable digital instruments, and a central touchscreen infotainment system that you can’t avoid regularly interacting with when changing drive modes or toggling active safety systems, whether you like it or not. Even with practice, I didn’t particularly like it, I must say.
To drive, the Golf R is in large part the same multi-talented all-rounder that it used to be. Those stiffer suspension rates and 19in wheels do make for a little bit more roar and thump from the car’s ride than Golf R devotees may be used to, but not so much as to change the defining strength of this car: its adaptability. On those optional adaptive dampers, it can be absorptive, comfortable and easy-going when set for those priorities; and then, in ‘Race’ mode, it’s a much meatier-, meaner-, tauter-feeling customer. Here, outright grip, agility and driver engagement aren’t quite in fast Megane or Civic Type R territory, but they don’t miss by much. That clever diff doesn’t seem to actively rotate the chassis when cornering hard; rather it works effectively to keep the car stable and true to its course and line even when you’re pouring on the power – and there’s plenty of that for the pouring.