The 2023 VW Golf GTI and Golf R are two takes on a sporty hatchback with impressive turbocharged power and real-world utility thanks to a spacious cabin. Shop it against the Subaru WRX and the Hyundai Elantra and Kona N models.
The Golf GTI and Golf R laugh in the face of bulky SUVs. These low-slung hatchbacks contain enough retro cues to link them to the original Golf that replaced the iconic Beetle the better part of a half-century ago. We appreciate the consistency, so we give them a 6 on the TCC scale.
It’s plenty quick. Base GTIs come with a 241-hp, 273 lb-ft of torque version of the company’s venerable 2.0-liter inline-4, which is smooth and strong after a hint of low-speed lag. The manual gearbox is sublime, while the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission works even better for rapid-fire shifts under pressure. Less impressive is the dual-clutch’s propensity to stumble at lower speeds, which can exacerbate the turbo’s immediate lag off idle.
More info: thecarconnection.com