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The Golf debuted in the U.S. in 1975, but back then it was named the Rabbit. The "Golf" name finally arrived in the U.S in 1985, which was also when the one-time Rabbit underwent its first generational change. In 1994, the third-generation Golf/Rabbit debuted with a slightly larger body and wheelbase, then the model underwent another generational change in 1999. Then came the weirdness in 2006, with the release of the fifth-gen Golf, which was named the Rabbit. The sixth-gen Golf arrived in 2010 with its normal name in place, and finally the 2015 model year ushered in the seventh-gen model on American soil. And now VW has revealed a new version of the peppier Golf R with a lot more cargo room... That’s right, it’s a hot wagon!

During the spring of 2014, Volkswagen was spotted testing what looked to be a wagon version of the Golf R. Its roofline was unmistakably wagon, granting tons of interior passenger and cargo volume while its large wheels, low-profile tires, sporty front fascia, and quad exhausts pointed to something hot. As it turns out, the test mules didn’t lie. Volkswagen is actually making this; the Golf R Variant.

It comes complete with the Golf’s 296-horsepower, turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder, DSG gearbox, and 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. Even the ESC Sport stability-control system and the Driving Profile Selector are part of the package. It’s all good news, except Volkswagen still seems to have no plans to bring it Stateside.

That’s right, no dice (yet) America.

What’s perplexing is Volkswagen has announced and debuted the Golf R Variant at the LA Auto Show. Go figure. While we all cry in our beverage of choice, our friends in Europe and around the world will get to enjoy this five-passenger, 34-mpg, 155-mph saloon and its 57.2 cubic feet of cargo room. Or maybe, VW sees a possible niche in the U.S. and will use this debut to test American response to the hot wagon.

Click past the jump to read more about the Volkswagen Golf R Variant.

  • 2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Transmission:
    6-speed DSG
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    296 @ 5500 (Est.)
  • Torque @ RPM:
    280 @ 1800 (Est.)
  • Displacement:
    2.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    5.1 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    37500 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Spy Shots

May 21, 2014 - Volkswagen Golf R caught testing at Nurburgring once again

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Exterior Spyshots
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2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Exterior Spyshots
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2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Exterior Spyshots
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March 27, 2014 - Golf R Variant Caught Testing At Nurburgring

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Exterior Spyshots
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2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Exterior Spyshots
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March 25, 2014 - First sighting

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Exterior Spyshots
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2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Exterior Spyshots
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2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Exterior Spyshots
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These spy shots are a pretty dead giveaway that this is a Golf R wagon. Not only does this machine make use of the signature, 20-inch Golf R alloy wheels and full Golf R front fascia, it even has Golf R logos on the grille.

The only odd part of the car is the exhaust which are spaced much wider than most R models from Volkswagen. This is a wagon though, and VW may be trying to down the visual aggressiveness sightly to appeal to a wider audience.

More information coming as we can get it.


2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Exterior
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2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant High Resolution Exterior
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The Golf R Variant is rather easily spotted against other Golf wagons, most easily by its hyped-up bodywork. The front fascia has large air intakes down low with an “R” logo perched toward the passenger side of the VW logo. The large, 18-inch wheels and 225/40 series tires are another dead giveaway. Out back, another “R” badge lives on the driver’s side of the liftgate while the lower rear fascia gets the diffuser treatment with chrome-tipped quad exhaust pipes.

The chrome accents continue on the roof rails, side mirror caps, and the bottom rung of the front grille. The added spice looks rather nice against the blue paintwork.

Side by side comparison

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Exterior
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2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Interior
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2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Interior
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2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Interior
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Things inside the Golf R Variant are typical Volkswagen, if not bordering Audi. The look is clean and purposeful while still being beautifully detailed. Chrome accents contrast the piano-black pieces on the dashboard and center console while heavily bolstered leather seats with “R” logos hold the front two occupants in place. Nighttime brings out a blue ambient light that washes over the cabin.

Of course, a wagon wouldn’t be a wagon without cargo room. With the second row seats in place, the rear cargo area holds 21.4 cubic feet. Folding the seats forward results in a SUV-like 57.2 cubic feet of luggage room. With 41.5 inches of length from the liftgate to the front seats, this wagon can hold a substantial amount.

Volkswagen gave the Golf R Variant an extra touch with its gauge cluster. Switch the ignition on and watch the light-blue needles sweep up and down while the “R” moniker shows up on the center infotainment system.

Interior Dimensions

Cargo Space 605 liters (21.4 cubic feet)
Luggage room 1,620 liters (57.2 cu ft)
Cargo area length 1,055 mm (41.5 inches)
Cargo area length (rear seats folded) 1,831 mm (72.1 in)


2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Emblems and Logo Exterior
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At the heart of this Volkswagen is the same EA888 four-cylinder found in the two- and four-door Golf versions. With a turbocharger, direct fuel injection, and variable valve timing, the little 2.0-liter engine makes a respectable 296 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. The 62-mph mark comes in just 5.1 seconds.

Volkswagen has stuffed the engine with some interesting tech to keep the power flowing. For example, the exhaust gas being fed to the turbocharger is first cooled by water, helping increase on-boost fuel efficiency. And while the engine does have direct injection, it also uses port injection in conjunction. Also notable is its fully electronic coolant system. Gone is the old wax-based thermostat in favor of a more controllable electronic system that decreases warm-up time, which conversely reduces the friction losses of a cold engine at startup.

Tailoring the driving experience is VW’s Driving Profile Selector and the DCC active dampers. It allows the driver to select between Eco, Normal, Individual, and Race modes. While the other modes might be self explanatory, Individual mode allows the driver to customize settings for the transmission, throttle response, and suspension settings with choices from the other three modes.

All that power is routed through a six-speed, DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission and Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. A Haldex 5 center differential sends power front and rear, with the front axle getting the bias during normal operation. When not being pushed or in foul weather conditions, the rear axle is disengaged in order to reduce parasitic loss.

Drivetrain Specifications

Type four-cylinder EA888 engine
Output 296 HP @ 5,500 - 6,200 RPM
Peak torque 280 LB-FT 1,800 - 5,500 RPM
Transmission 6-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic
0 to 80 km/h (50 mph) 3.8 seconds
0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) 5.1 seconds
Top track speed 250 km/h (155 mph)
Fuel consumption 7.0 liters/100 km (34 mpg)
CO2 emissions 163 g/km


2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant High Resolution Exterior
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Volkswagen hasn’t released any information on pricing, likely because this is a new model and that its not headed for the U.S. However, we’d estimate the Golf R Variant to sticker for around $37,500.


Mazdaspeed 3

2010 Mazdaspeed3 High Resolution Exterior
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Finding competition for a hot wagon like the Golf R Variant is a little difficult, but there area a few key models that come to mind, like the Mazdaspeed 3.

The little Mazda is more of a hatch than a wagon, and it only has FWD, but it does have one of the most powerful engines in the segment with 263 horsepower coming from its turbocharged engine. This is enough to get the long hatch to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds.

Unfortunately, we have no clue when the Mazdaspeed 3 will receive the same Kodo update as the rest of the lineup. All signs point toward a 2015 revision, but there is no confirmation on this yet.

The 2013 Mazdaspeed 3 checks in at $24,200.

Ford Focus ST

2014 Ford Focus ST Exterior
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The Focus ST was Ford’s first true hot hatch for U.S. buyers in more than a decade and it has been making some serious waves. Its 2.0-liter, EcoBoost engine is a sweetheart, but with only 252 horsepower its a far cry from the Golf’s 300 ponies. The Focus also only sends power to the front wheels, a serious disadvantage at this level of horsepower and torque.

The Focus ST can hit 60 mph in just 6.6 ticks of the second hand and checks in at a thrifty $24k. Now with Mountune starting to offer its performance upgrades in the U.S., ST buyers can get even more power from a reliable source.


2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant High Resolution Exterior
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The 2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant could be considered a unicorn of a car here in the States. Its unusual design just doesn’t sell well here — or so VW tells us — so we won’t likely see it in local dealers. That’s a shame too, as the Golf R Variant combines the sporty, track-ready attributes of the Golf R with the usability and practicality of a wagon. The overall package looks killer.

C’mon Volkswagen, take a chance.

  • Leave it
    • Not likely headed for the States
    • No word of a manual transmission option
    • Added weight over the standard Golf R with no added power
Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read full bio
About the author

Press Release

Volkswagen will debut one of the sportiest compact all-rounders at the Los Angeles Auto Show: the new Golf R Variant. For the first time in the history of the Golf R, this iconic all-wheel-drive compact sports car will be produced as a station wagon. The exclusive model has 221 kW / 300 PS (296 horsepower) and 280 pound-feet of torque. The power is transmitted to the pavement via a standard 6-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission and permanent 4MOTION® all-wheel-drive system. The chassis features a lowered sport suspension—0.8 inches lower than a stock Golf—the innovative progressive steering system and a stability control system, “ESC Sport”, which can be deactivated for use on a racetrack. Optional highlights include the newest generation of the DCC adaptiv e damping system with a driving profile selector that features a Race mode.

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Emblems and Logo Exterior
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The Golf R Variant accelerates from a standstill to 80 km/h (50 mph) in only 3.8 seconds and to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.1 seconds. This sports car in a station wagon body is electronically limited to a top track speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). The turbocharged four-cylinder engine is very fuel efficient: in the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), the sportiest Golf wagon of all time only consumes 7.0 liters/100 km (34 mpg); this equates to CO2 emissions of 163 g/km.

The Golf R Variant is one of very few sports cars that can’t fully support an owner’s lifestyle: it can take a whole family and all their belongings if needed. This Volkswagen offers an impressively large trunk, even with five people on board, and has cargo capacity comparable to many compact SUVs if the rear seats are folded flat.

The Golf R Variant is distinguished from other Golf wagon models in a number of areas. At the rear, it has a new R design bumper, a high-gloss black diffuser, four chrome exhaust tips, so-called “aero flaps” on the D-pillars, cherry-red taillights and LED license plate lighting.

At the front, the Golf R Variant also has an R-specific bumper with particularly large air intakes, a distinctive radiator grille (with “R” logo) as well as Bi-Xenon headlights with integrated daytime running lights. The LED DRLs form a distinctive dual “U” design beneath the headlights.

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant High Resolution Exterior
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From the side, the Golf R Variant is characterized by body-color, “R” style sills, “R” logos on the front fenders and “matt chrome” door mirror caps. The 18-inch Cadiz aluminum-alloy wheels have been specially designed for the R models and are fitted with 225/40 tires; clearly discernible behind them are the black-painted brake calipers that also sport ”R” logos. The car can also be ordered with optional 19-inch Cadiz and Pretoria aluminum-alloy wheels.

The Golf R Variant is equipped with sport seats with a fabric and Alcantara® material mix. The look is finished off with decorative stitching in crystal gray and an “R” logo on the seat backrest. Other interior features include blue ambient lighting, automatic air conditioning, and the Composition Touch infotainment system. As an option, Volkswagen also offers a Nappa Carbon leather package for the Golf R Variant. Here, the outer seat surfaces, inner side support panels and head restraints are all upholstered in dark Carbon Nappa leather. Meanwhile, the middle seat panels may be ordered in either dark or light Nappa leather (anthracite or modern gray). Leather is also used to trim the “R” design three-spoke sport steering wheel that has another “R” logo integrated in the lower cross bar. All the leather elements are highlighted by decorative stitching in contrasting crystal gray.

The rear seats have the same appearance as those in the front. With five people on board, the car has 605 liters (21.4 cubic feet) of cargo space, loaded up to the back of the rear seats. Up to the front seats and up to the roof, there is 1,620 liters (57.2 cu ft) of luggage room. The cargo area up to the rear seat is 1,055 mm (41.5 inches) long; up to the backs of the front seats, it’s 1,831 mm (72.1 in) in length.

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant High Resolution Exterior
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The cargo floor in the luggage compartment can be varied in height or completely removed in just a few movements. Another standard feature is the cargo space cover that’s designed as a roller blind and can be stored, along with the rear net partition, under the cargo floor. The 60:40 split rear bench can be released via levers in the side of the trunk; the seat backs automatically fold forward, creating a nearly level surface with the cargo floor.

The Carbon Race design is used to decorate the instrument panel and door trims. The standard ambient lighting is also integrated in the door trim panels, while the sill kickplates are also illuminated in blue. The pedals and footrest on the driver’s side are designed in a stainless steel look and the floormats have upgraded piping in a contrasting color.

The instruments and the touchscreen’s start menu were also modified. When the ignition is switched on, the illuminated light-blue tachometer and speedometer needles sweep once around the entire gauge to the end pin—in the speedometer’s case, to the 320 km/h (199 mph) mark. The instrument pointers are also automatically illuminated as soon as the driver’s door is opened. The infotainment system’s touchscreen shows the animated “R” logo as a default.

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant High Resolution Exterior
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High-tech turbocharged engine.
Like the 2- or 4-door hatchback versions, the new Golf R Variant is powered by an advanced four-cylinder EA888 engine. One of the most powerful four-cylinder engines on the market, it delivers 221 kW / 300 PS (296 hp) from 5,500 to 6,200 rpm, and its maximum torque of 380 Newton meters (280 lb-ft) is available over a broad speed range from 1,800 to 5,500 rpm.

The turbocharged and direct injection engine has sophisticated features such as water-cooled exhaust gas being fed to the turbocharger through the cylinder head (to efficiently reduce fullload fuel consumption) and a dual injection system with direct and port injection. Thanks to its fully-electronic coolant control system, the TSI engine offers particularly efficient thermal management with a short warm-up phase, which reduces friction losses and fuel consumption. The engine also has variable valve timing on the intake and exhaust side, along with variable exhaust valve lift. This enables optimal control of the charge exchange process for better performance, fuel economy and low emissions.

The Golf R has always featured permanent 4MOTION all-wheel drive and the R Variant follows that lead. The latest generation 4MOTION system is coupled to an automatic 6-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission, which has a manual shifting option. The 4MOTION system is equipped with a Haldex®5 coupling that is activated by an electro-hydraulic oil pump. The system can shift drive torque almost instantaneously . When operating under a relatively low load or during coastdown, the R Variant acts like a front-wheel-drive car, with the rear wheels disengaged in order to save fuel. However, the rear axle of the Golf R can be engaged in fractions of a second whenever necessary.

In addition to the Haldex coupling that acts as a center differential, there are four electronic differential locks (EDL) integrated in the stability control system (ESC) that act laterally. In addition, the Golf R Variant is equipped with XDS+® at the front and rear axles, which brakes the wheels on the inside of a curve during fast cornering, thus reducing understeer.

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant High Resolution Exterior
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Like the Golf R, the R Variant is equipped with the “ESC Sport” stability control system as standard. The system is activated by a two-stage switch on the center console. When the driver presses this switch briefly, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) switches to the “ESC Sport” mode. In very fast driving on a racetrack, the ESC system has a higher threshold in this mode. When the ESC button is pressed for longer than three seconds, the system is fully deactivated for high-performance track driving, a feature that is available only on the Golf R.

The Golf R Variant has progressive variable-ratio electric power assisted rack-and-pinion steering. This is an elegant solution to a common problem with steering systems, which is that different speeds and maneuvers ideally require different steering rates. In this case, Volkswagen has spaced the teeth on the steering gear’s rack more tightly towards the center. The lower steering ratio in the center means that the car responds more quickly when entering a turn, while the higher ratio at the ends of the rack reduces the amount of effort needed near full steering lock, such as when parking. The steering wheel needs just 2.1 turns from lock to lock, whereas the standard Golf needs 2.76 turns.

Another exclusive feature on the Golf R Variant is the Driving Profile Selector, which is normally optional but is standard in conjunction with DCC adaptive damping. The feature has four programs in the Golf R Variant, and five in conjunction with DCC: “Eco”, “Normal”, “Individual”, and a “Race” mode that has been specially designed for the Golf R. In combination with DCC, “Comfort” mode is also available.

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant Exterior
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In “Race” mode, which is designed for high-speed track driving, damping is increased and engine response and the shift points of the DSG transmission are configured to be even sportier. In the “Individual” driving profile, the driver can combine mode settings for various individual parameters. In “Eco” mode, the engine, the air conditioning unit and other auxiliary systems are controlled for optimal fuel-efficiency. There is also a coasting function in Eco mode; when the driver releases the accelerator pedal, such as slowing down when approaching a traffic light or when descending a hill, the DSG disengages and the engine idles.

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