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The hot hatch market offers some practical and formidable offerings. However, unlike the sports car segment, these hatches boast lots of cargo volume and five-door applications. Moreover, the Volkswagen Golf R is fast enough to outrun many sports cars without compromise. Even better, the AWD Golf R doesn’t trade speed for safety with its excellent ratings. 

How safe is the Volkswagen Golf R?

Surprising for a full-fledged performance vehicle among sensible sedans, the Volkswagen Golf R is fast and safe. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the taut hatch a Top Safety Pick+ rating. That means the Golf R scored “Good” ratings in every crashworthiness category and high ratings in most individual testing criteria. Moreover, the R features “Superior” and “Advanced” scores in the crash prevention categories.

The Volkswagen Golf R is an AWD Golf hot hatch with top safety scores.
Volkswagen Golf R | Volkswagen

Frankly, the R is the only hot hatchback in the small cars category to secure the IIHS’ best rating. Better yet, the R managed to snag the Top Safety Pick+ rating while the GTI received the Top Safety Pick. Both Volkswagen hatchbacks are safe, but the faster of the two is also safer. 

Is a Volkswagen Golf R AWD?

In addition to crashworthiness and prevention ratings, the Golf R has a 4Motion all-wheel drive (AWD) system. AWD is a sought-after feature as its more stable in inclement weather than rear-wheel drive (RWD) or even front-wheel drive (FWD) applications. However, the R uses AWD for more than safe and secure driving on treacherous roads; it uses AWD to launch hard and handle sharply. 

A bright blue Volkswagen Golf has a sharp profile.
Volkswagen Golf R | Volkswagen

Is the Golf R fast?

The Volkswagen Golf R takes hot hatches to new speeds. In Car and Driver’s testing, the AWD Volkswagen hit 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds with a dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmission. That’s around half a second quicker than a 2022 Audi S3 and nearly a full second swifter than a 2021 Honda Civic Type R. Moreover, the R will use its 315-horsepower 2.0L turbocharged engine to reach an estimated 155-mph top speed. 

Still, with a starting price of $45,185, the R is pricey compared to alternatives like the Civic Type R. If you’re looking for a more competitively priced Volkswagen, the Golf GTI is cheaper and carries the pedigree of one of the most beloved names in the segment. However, the GTI gets lower safety scores, doesn’t offer AWD, and produces around 74 fewer horsepower than the R. 

Consumers who want an AWD Golf should opt for the Volkswagen Golf R.
Volkswagen Golf R | Volkswagen

What can you get instead?

The Volkswagen Golf R is difficult to top in the hot hatchback segment. With AWD, a dual-clutch transmission, and acceleration times faster than a Ford Mustang GT, the R is a well-equipped performance option. However, the R’s starting point is within striking distance of options like the 2022 BMW M240i. Still, the Volkswagen super hatch is as safe as it is swift, which is challenging to accomplish. 

If you’re in the market for another taut, fast hatchback, the upcoming Honda Civic Type R promises to be a handful. Scroll down to the following article to read about hot hatchbacks!


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