The 2015 Volkswagen Golf R begs the question: Why get anything else?

Details of the new Golf R are out ahead of its full debut at next week’s Detroit Auto Show. And all I can say is that it begs the question that any good Golf should: Why would you ever buy anything else?

With a claim like that, I had better get to the good stuff quickly. This car packs a massive punch: 290 horsepower from a turbocharged TSI 2.0-liter bomb. Not only is that 30 more horses than you got in last year’s Golf, it’s more than you get from the new WRX.

Don’t for a minute think that that all this power is being wasted trucking unnecessary weight around either. With the dual clutch DSG Automatic the R can sprint from zero to the speeding ticket territory of 62 mph in 4.9 seconds. That’s the kind of power that comes with responsibility.

In this case that responsibility comes in the form of shockingly good gas mileage, 33 mpg on the European cycle. EPA figures aren’t out yet, but a rough guess based on the last model suggests an EPA figure of 27 mpg combined. That is shockingly good on a car faster to sixty than most Porsche Boxsters.

In part this sinister German efficiency is achieved through the use of friendly Swedish pragmatism in the form of a Haldex all wheel drive system. VW says that the Golf R has permanent all-wheel drive, and that’s basically true, except for the Haldex coupling. This ingenious piece of technology doesn’t just stop sending power to the back wheels when they aren’t needed, it actually decouples the drive shaft to save the resistance and friction of turning it. This means you get front-wheel drive efficiency but AWD traction.

Speaking of traction, the Golf R uses a combination of technologies to make the car stick to the road like it was welded there. A multi-plate clutch directs power between the front and back. An oil pump commanded by the car’s robot brain can engage the clutch. The more engaged the clutch, the more power goes to the rear wheels. In fact this system can turn the car completely rear-wheel drive as needed. That gives the driver the opportunity to trick the computers into letting her get the tail out.

But as they say on late night infomercials: “that’s not all folks!” VW also throws in traction control that uses the brakes to intercede when wheels start to slip and what they call the XDS cross differential lock. This bit of engineering trickery allows the brakes to function as a limited-slip differential by sensing conditions indicating understeer and braking accordingly.

If all of that is more technical than you care for, allow me to summarize. You will need the jaws of life to pry this car loose in the corners. And that’s a good thing when you consider the kind of power it has.

The styling isn’t significantly different, but the changes VW made are good ones. The car gets new side skirts, an aggressive dual exhaust, and surprisingly nice standard 18-inch rims. I particularly like the LED running lights that look like they come of one of this car’s Audi cousins. They let you know that this car is something a bit special, without shouting to the world that you have no taste.

The interior is neither revolutionary nor anything particularly special to look at, but everything you could want is there. Leather, high quality synthetics, excellent seats, and because this car is German it will all be put together properly. Tech wise you get VW’s latest 5.8-inch touchscreen display, that comes packed with info and ‘tainment.

That brings me back to where I started. The Golf R, especially in its four-door guise, promises to be all things to all people. Want a safe, efficient run-around? The Golf R can do that. Want something with space in the back and enough traction to take you into the mountains for a day of skiing? The Golf R can do that. Want something that can beat the pants off of most Porsches, BMWs, and Mercs while still saving you enough money for a Caribbean vacation? The Golf R can do that to.

If you are only going to get one car, I struggle to think of why you wouldn’t at least consider the Golf R. Even if it ends up costing a bit more than the $35,000 of last generation, this thing is an absolute steal. Just don’t tell VW; we don’t want them to find out.

Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.

Tesla could show the electric pickup Elon Musk is dying to build in 2019

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself.
Product Review

Why spend more? The Yoga Chromebook outdoes most laptops for $600

The Yoga Chromebook features great build quality, a 1080p display, and all-day battery life. All that for $540? That’s right, but there’s one catch.

The best iPhone deals for December 2018

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for December 2018.
Cars is helping Hyundai mine the artificial intelligence gold rush

In November 2018, Hyundai invested in a startup named We talked to the company's founder to learn more about what that means for consumers in the not-too-distant futures.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.

Thinking of opting for a car with a diesel engine? Here's what you need to know

Modern diesel-powered models prove that it is possible to build a clean, efficient diesel engine without sacrificing performance. Here's what you need to know about diesel cars, and how they differ from gasoline-powered models.

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…

These winter-warrior cars will never leave you out in the cold

Snow can be an absolute pain if your vehicle isn't optimized to handle that sort of terrain. If brutal snowstorms are an annual part of your life, we recommend you pick up one of these winter-ready vehicles.

2020 Toyota Supra caught hiding in a trailer without a shred of camouflage

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.