“Missi once asked me, ‘Why do they call them hot-hatches?’ I’d never given that too much thought before, but it’s a good question. Please, allow me to explain…”
2016 Volkswagen Golf R – The Ultimate Family Hatch
A hatchback is a, well… a four-door car. Despite the fact that it’s still called a “five-door” by the most hardcore hatchback fanatics, it’s just a 4-door car with a hatch-style trunk.
As far as a “hot-hatch,” the term refers to the movement initiated in Europe decades ago by vehicles like the original Volkswagen Rabbit, the Renault Clio, Ford Escort, and of course, the most iconic—the Volkswagen Golf GTI. For many, the GTI is considered the king of hot-hatches, and I’d say that’s pretty darn accurate. After all, it wasn’t until 2005 that VW released a hotter version of it, the Golf R32 (which I owned one), which then evolved into the current-generation Golf R.
Now that you know what a hot-hatch is, allow me to explain why hot-hatches are so popular, and why they’re the choice of transportation for most of the world (Europe, Asia, etc.) outside of the United States.
For starters, most countries around the globe endures prices of $7 to $11 dollars per gallon of fuel, which for some odd reason makes people want to drive vehicles smaller than a Chevy Tahoe… crazy, right? Besides having smaller engines and being fuel efficient, hatchbacks typically offer more passenger and cargo space than average coupes or sedans. Therefore, being able to haul more people and more stuff while using less fuel. Lastly, the fact that most hot-hatchbacks are designed on economy vehicle platforms, means they’re typically lightweight, relatively inexpensive, and they’re also super fun to drive. Nimble, responsive, and a ton of fun—the recipe for a hot-hatch’s popularity.
The Golf R I just had the pleasure for driving for an entire week may not necessarily be, “inexpensive,” with a $37,570 price tag, but it surely checks all the other boxes. Remember, if you want as much of the fun factor, but a little less power, you can always opt for the iconic VW Golf GTI. We tested the 2016 GTI not too long ago, and you can read all about here.
3 Reasons Why the 2016 Volkswagen Golf R is a Family’s Dream Hatch
Room for Everyone & Everything
Unlike my 2005 Golf R32, the current R is only offered with four-doors. This kicks up the family-friendly factor way high. Not only does having four doors allow the kids to get in and out easier, but it awards them more leg room, hip room, and their own ac and heater vents. Oh, and it also gives you more cargo room than the (now defunct) 2-door GTI. How? Once you clear the second row of children, you can fold the seats down and expand your trunk from 22.8 cubic feet to a whopping 52.7 cubic feet. That’s nearly 10 cubic feet more than the Mazda CX-3 crossover we tested earlier this year!
A Never-Ending Smile
I bet you didn’t see this one coming, huh? After all, how could a turbocharged engine with 292 horsepower paired to a Porsche-derived 6-speed DSG automatic transmission, and a 4Motion all-wheel drive system be fun? If all of that sounds like gibberish to you, keep this in mind: A powerful hatchback that shifts gears at the blink of an eye, and grips to the road like a pissed-off cat claws a carpet.
The Golf R offers an intoxicating driving experience, and I found it nearly impossible to get enough of it. Especially as my 5-year-old daughter would constantly scream at me to go faster or do donuts on a parking lot. (For the record: I’d never let her talk me into such irresponsible behavior.)
The VW Golf Can Grow With You
This may not be specific to the fast-as-heck Golf R, but to the Volkswagen Golf family as a whole. With over six different models with multiple trims each, you too, can have a hot-hatch at every stage of your life.
Just starting out? The base Golf starts at $19,895 and packs good looks and convenient features. If you want the performance and the looks, the iconic GTI starts at $25,595. If you’re all-green and love polar bears, the electric E-Golf starts at $28,995. If you’ve got active kiddos and need more room, the station-wagon Golf SportWagen and Golf Alltrack start at, $21,580 and $24,995.
Lastly, the pinnacle of hot-hatchbacks; the 2017 Golf R starts at $39,375 (up from $36,750 in 2016).