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With the latest, eighth-generation Golf now established as the beating heart of the Volkswagen range attention turns to the performance versions. Volkswagen has already announced the petrol, diesel or hybrid options – badged GTI, GTD and GTE respectively – while the all-new, 320 horsepower Golf R picks up from its hugely popular predecessor with extra performance and more sophisticated all-wheel drive system with optional drift mode.

Let’s just walk you through the options before you get there, though. The 245 horsepower GTI remains the core hot Golf, is available with a manual or automatic DSG gearbox, hits 0-62mph in as little as 6.2 seconds and starts at £33,460. If you like that idea but want some pure electric range for city driving, or have an eye to Benefit In Kind savings for hybrid cars, the GTE has similar performance from a plug-in petrol-electric powertrain. It costs a bit more but the tax savings for company drivers may make it a no-brainer. If you rack up lots of motorway miles diesel may still be your best option, though. Fear not, VW has you covered here too with the 200 horsepower GTD, which does over 50mpg and 600 miles to a tank, comes as standard with the DSG automatic gearbox and costs from £32,790.

Want to go faster? The 300 horsepower GTI Clubsport has more power, a track-focused setting for the Vehicle Dynamics Manager and a more aggressive bodykit to go chasing cars like the wild looking Honda Civic Type R.
Looking for something quicker but a little more discreet? The new Golf R is your car, this model traditionally the most powerful in the range and using all-wheel drive to let you enjoy that extra performance whatever the weather. These qualities made the previous generation Golf R one of the best hot hatches of modern times, inspiring equivalent versions of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, BMW 1 Series and Audi A3 to take the fight to VW.

The new Golf R is closely related to the the Audi S3 but the 320 horsepower output makes the VW more powerful, while the optional R-Performance package includes a more sophisticated all-wheel drive system with additional ‘Special’ and ‘Drift’ modes. The former is specially calibrated for the legendary Nürburgring circuit in Germany while the latter, VW warns, is not for use on the public highway. The R’s credentials as the fastest Golf in the range are meanwhile demonstrated by its 4.7-second 0-62mph sprint and limited 155mph top speed, which is raised 168mph with the R-Performance package. Other options include a lightweight titanium exhaust from boutique tuning brand Akrapovic.

While it might not have a huge amount more horsepower than the GTI Clubsport the all-wheel drive means much faster acceleration and devastating 'real world' performance. It’s this giant-killing ability that has made previous Golf R models such a hit, and will be enough to have owners of premium rivals like Mercedes A35 AMG and BMW M135i checking their mirrors.

Whichever flavour you choose for your hot Golf Volkswagen is promising the same focus on tech and a digitally-enhanced driving experience supported by the latest driver assistance systems.

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