VW Golf R 20 Years sets new ‘Ring record

Golf R 20 Years sets a new record for a VW R car at the Nordschleife.

A new special edition Volkswagen Golf R 20 Years has set the fastest ever lap time for a VW R model around the fearsome Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit.

The Golf R 20 Years (which, as the name suggests, celebrates 20 years of VW’s R cars) set a lap time of 7:47.31 around the 20.8km-long track, a good four seconds faster than a standard Golf R. The key to the 20 Years’ performance edge comes in the form of an extra 14hp compared to the regular model, bringing the total power output to 333hp from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with power sent to the wheels through a seven-speed gearbox.

In addition to the standard car’s Comfort, Sport and Race driving modes, the limited-edition Golf features two additional settings — Special and Drift. For the assault on the ’Ring, the pilot, touring car racer and VW development driver, Benjamin Leuchter, selected Special mode, which, Volkswagen says, was developed specifically with the Nürburgring in mind. Rather than making everything rock hard, Special mode softens up the shock absorbers to allow the car to better deal with the circuit’s bumps, jumps and undulations.

Volkswagen Golf R 20 Years at Ring

Should a driver require even more control over parameters, Individual mode in the Driving Dynamics Manager system allows them to manually adjust nearly all of the car’s driving and performance characteristics, including the torque vectoring, engine note and the shock absorbers through 15 different settings.

The 20 Years edition also sounds that bit rougher and louder to underline the extra performance versus a standard Golf R. A pre-loaded turbocharger helps reduce turbo lag, contributing to better acceleration on the track.

With the 20 Years’ 0-100km/h time of 4.6 seconds and a top speed of 270km/h, the highest speed hit by Leuchter during his Nordschleife lap was the 265km/h recorded along the Döttinger Höhe straight. In all, he was impressed by what was always the Golf R’s strong point: its ability to marry high performance to family hatchback practicality.

“With this car, I can drive here on the Nürburgring and the next stop is then the baker’s or the DIY store. The vehicle is really an all-rounder that can do everything,” he said.

This year marks 20 years since the arrival of the Mk.4 Golf R32, the car which launched Volkswagen’s performance tier above that of the hot hatch benchmark, the Golf GTI. With a 3.2-litre V6 engine and all-wheel drive, the R32 was the first production car to feature a dual-clutch gearbox and it shared many of its underpinnings with the six-cylinder version of the Audi TT. While the Mk.4 Golf was generally well-received at the time, that generation of GTI was seen as a disappointment, with too much weight and a deficit of power. In some senses, the R32 was VW’s attempt to make it up to performance enthusiasts for the lacklustre Mk.4 GTI and it remains the high point of that era of Golf. Due to their age and complexity though, they’re getting scarce these days and values for well-looked-after examples are starting to climb dramatically, fetching higher sums than even the newer Mk.5 R32.