The Good The Volkswagen 2012 Golf R's 2-liter engine gives massive power while all-wheel drive gives it an edge in cornering. In everyday driving the Golf R shows fine manners. A touch screen comes standard for stereo and phone control.
The Bad The available navigation system lacks real-time traffic data.
The Bottom Line The 2012 Volkswagen Golf R is a blast to drive on curvy roads, but can also handle the everyday routine, offering solid, if not cutting-edge, cabin tech features.
Taming the hot hatchback
The phrase hot hatchback evokes compact cars with too much power for their suspensions and front-wheel drive, with excessive torque steer requiring a 45-degree turn on the wheel during acceleration. In the 2012 Golf R, Volkswagen maintains plenty of power while ironing out all the unpleasantness.
Instead of an unruly streetfighter, VW manages to make the Golf R into a refined pugilist, less kickboxer than Marquess of Queensberry rules. Part of the secret is an all-wheel-drive system, dubbed 4Motion and based on Quattro systems in Audi's smaller cars, eliminating torque steer in the Golf R.
Add to that modern suspension tuning, aided by anti-roll bars front and back, managing to tread an excellent line between comfort and rigidity. Then there is the steering, sharp with a little oversteer, making for very engaged handling. I faulted the electric power steering on therecently, but in the Golf R, VW engineers show they got it right.
2017 Volkswagen e-Golf finally goes on sale with $31,315 base price
More power, range and fuel economy are here following a long wait.
Civic Type R's future could include all-wheel drive, more power
Honda's already hard at work thinking about how to expand the Civic Type R's appeal.
2018 Volkswagen Polo offers forbidden fruit in many forms
The 197-horsepower Polo GTI sounds like an absolute riot.
The 2017 Honda Civic Type R likely costs less than $34,000
It'll go up when destination and taxes are taken into account, but it's still pretty darn inexpensive.
VW Up GTI pays tribute to the original hot hatch
Yes, there's plaid inside.
Turn your new Honda Civic into a Civic Si-trouncing monster for $700
You might bork your warranty, and it's not exactly street legal, but that's aftermarket modification in a nutshell, no matter the vehicle.
Is a base-trim Honda Civic Type R in the works?
If so, it could make Honda's hottest hatch even cheaper.
2017 Honda Civic Type R captures Nurburgring lap record
Say hello to the fastest front-wheel-drive car around The Green Hell.
The great Honda Civic Type R vs. Ford Focus RS debate
Comparing specs for the two freshest hot hatchbacks to land in America.
Volkswagen recalls e-Golf for...stalling?
Thanks to some overly sensitive electronics, VW's all-electric runabout could stop running without warning.