The interior of the regular Mk7 Golf is a pretty straightforward, classy affair, and the R receives the kind of changes that are par for the course on a rapid but refined hatchback; a heavily sculpted steering wheel, aluminium-finished pedals and some gloss plastic trim are the highlights.

There are also new seats, finished in Alcantara and leather, which grip and support a driver without the long-term discomfort of something racier. All of our testers found a comfortable driving position, with only one complainant, who’d have liked the wheel to reach closer to the seat, to avoid an overly upright seatback. All of the switchgear, in typical Golf fashion, is easy to indentify and use.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
We'd prefer a mechanical handbrake to the standard electric parking brake

Optional is a seven-speed dual-clutch DSG gearbox, whose manual override is sent to annoy us by having the upshifts and downshifts in the ‘wrong’ direction.

Still, there is convenience to be had in the shift from the regular Drive setting to a Sport setting (and back again) being a simple back-pull on the lever. Wheel-mounted paddles come as standard with DSG, mind.

Elsewhere, the R is as-you-were to the regular Golf. The rear seats are fine for most adults (although access is restricted a touch by large front seats in the three-door version) and boot space is competitive.

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Standard kit is fairly comprehensive and updated via the latest rafts of changes, including LED head and rear lights, front and rear parking sensors, an aggressive bodykit, LED foglights, electric heated folding mirrors, tinted rear windows, adaptive cruise control, and automatic lights and wipers on the outside. Inside there are plenty of luxuries to enjoy too such as dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, Volkswagen's 12.3in digital instrument cluster, and the inclusion of an 8.0in touchscreeen infotainment system complete with sat nav, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, DAB radio, smartphone integration and a three-year subscription to Volkswagen's online services.

It must be said that the Golf R's interior has been augmented by that new, swish-looking, glass-fronted 8.0in touchscreen. The crystal-clear display is a definite step-up from the Golf’s previous infotainment systems, and although the menus are familiar, better processing power makes them more reactive to inputs. But not gesture control; that comes on the optional Discover Navigation Pro system, which gets an even bigger 9.2in screen, and is an £1325 option.

For the first time on a Golf you can also replace the regular instrument binnacle with a 12.3in digital screen, which puts loads of information, such as navigation maps, conveniently below the driver’s eye line.

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