It hosted the Formula 1 Grand Prix for several years and is widely considered one of the best circuits in the UK, as well as one of the hardest to get right. So are Volkswagen’s R models up to the job? We got behind the wheel of its full range – except for the Tiguan R – to find out.

Brands Hatch VW Golf R 20 Years

Golf R 20 Years

Let’s start with the original, and core ‘R’ model – the Golf R. This hot hatch is renowned for its all-weather ability, and that was certainly the case for it on a soaking wet March day. With the heavens opening, it would normally feel quite intimidating, but it’s no such issue with this Golf and its 4Motion all-wheel-drive system.

But this is no normal Golf R, but rather the ‘20 Years’ special edition, designed to celebrate two decades of ‘R’. Changes over the regular car include more power (it produces 328bhp in all), R-Performance Torque Vectoring to prevent understeer and dedicated ‘Drift’ and ‘Special’ driving modes.

This R 20 Years is an astonishing thing around Brands Hatch, dispatching corners at an alarming rate, while flat out it can manage 0-60 mph in just 4.4 seconds. The optional Akrapovic exhaust fitted to our car also sounded especially menacing.

Golf R Estate

If you want something a little more practical but no less practical, you shouldn’t look much further than the Golf R Estate. The boot space jumps from 308 litres in the hatchback to a considerable 605 litres in the estate, and this makes it ideal for family use.

While the Estate isn’t available in the ‘20 Years’ package, its well-loved 2.0-litre petrol engine still puts out a considerable 316bhp, and means this family car can still manage 0-60 mph in just 4.7 seconds. Around Brands Hatch, for the majority of the time you’d never know you were in an estate car, owing to the agility and pace on offer through the many sweeping and tight turns.

Brands Hatch VW Golf R Estate
Brands Hatch VW T-Roc R

T-Roc R

The biggest surprise behind the wheel at Brands Hatch was without a doubt the T-Roc R. High-riding SUVs and crossovers can often feel heavy and uninvolving behind the wheel, but most certainly not this T-Roc.

Kitted out with a 296bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine, the T-Roc can dispatch 0-60mph in just 4.7 seconds, while our track car is also equipped with the raucous Akrapovic exhaust that really adds to the sporty character. The T-Roc feels remarkably nimble, and even in torrential rain, provides confidence to push on through Brands Hatch’s often-tight corners which aren’t known for their grip levels.

Arteon R Shooting Brake

One of the latest additions to Volkswagen’s ‘R’ line-up is the Arteon R – a sportier version of the brand’s most elegant and arguably classiest model. Available as both a fastback and an estate car-like Shooting Brake, here we’re trying out the latter.

Even before we jump inside, it’s hard not to stare at the way it looks, as it’s a great bit of design that’s only amplified by receiving the ‘R’ treatment, while the performance arm’s sharp Lapiz Blue colour does it plenty of favours.

Like the other models here, the Arteon uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine, here putting out a healthy 316bhp that equates to a 0-60mph time of 4.7 seconds. While the Arteon lacks some of the agility and dynamism of other R products – this is a far larger car after all – it’s still a mightily impressive tool that offers brilliant performance.

Brands Hatch VW Golf R



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