Quicker than a GR Supra, a BMW M2, and even a 911 GT3 around the famed Green Hell.
Volkswagen has built its fastest Golf R yet in the form of the special edition 20 Years model. At least, if you're using Nurburging lap times as a metric, which frankly, who doesn't? We already knew this was the hottest R ever, making 329 hp and 309 lb-ft of torque - up from the 315 hp and 295 lb-ft on the standard R in the US - but VW has officially proved the Golf R 20 Years special edition is the fastest one ever, with a blistering 7:47.31 minute lap around the Nurburgring.
This makes it the quickest AWD hatchback over a single lap of the Green Hell. The closest AWD hatch is the vastly more powerful Mercedes-AMG A45 S, which boasts 416 hp and could only manage a 7:48.80.
Here's the craziest part: The Golf R is a little faster than a 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 (7:48.00). If you needed an indication of just how far technology and the hot hatch have come in the last decade and a half, look no further than the Golf R.
While it's the quickest AWD hatchback, it's only the fourth fastest compact hatchback of all - beaten not only by the Civic Type R, but a Renault Megane RS Trophy-R and the Golf GTI Clubsport S - all of which are front-wheel drive, but are lightened, hardened machines that lack the on-road comforts of the R.
VW has not publicized what the standard tires on the 20 Years edition are, but it looks like the lap was set on a set of Bridgestone rubber, which is nowhere near as sticky as the tires run by some of its competitors.
VW test driver and touring car racer Benjamin Leuchter piloted the Golf R 20 Years on the lap record, which was fitting since he was also involved in the development of the R-Performance Package, which is standard on the celebratory model.
The R has come a very long way in the last 20 years, both in terms of tech and lap times. Back then, a VW beating any Porsche around the 'Ring was a laughable idea. The fact that the R is not just a hardened track weapon but a usable daily car as well is the most impressive feat here.
Leuchter highlighted this after his lap, saying, "With this car, I can drive here on the Nurburgring and the next stop is then the baker's or the DIY store. The vehicle is really an all-rounder that can do everything."
VW credits the record lap time to a few things. Of course, the extra 10 hp surely helped out on the straights, where the revised speed limiter - now raised to 167 mph - meant it reeled in the horizon a little bit quicker.
The brand also credited retuned throttle dynamics for improved engine response. The 20 Years edition boasts a "Special" driving mode, exclusive to the model, which was honed specifically for use on the Nurburgring. It softens the dampers to better handle the 'Ring's rough tarmac, but VW says you can set the car up in a very similar manner even if you don't own a 20 Year trim, thanks to the R's Individual mode. Via this mode, you can tune the dampers, differential response, and even the Akrapovic exhaust, all of which are standard for the special edition.
In Europe, all variants of the Golf R are sold exclusively with a DSG dual-clutch gearbox, unlike in the US, where Golf R buyers are saving the manual.