The new, high-performance Volkswagen Golf R is now available to order with prices starting at just over £39,000. The all-wheel-drive flagship model is joined by the front-wheel-drive GTI Clubsport, which sits lower down the range and comes in at just over £37,000.

Both cars are based on the latest-generation Golf, which arrived at the beginning of the year boasting a fresh look, new technology and some electrified powertrains. Although the R and the GTI Clubsport both benefit from an updated design inside and out, both cars are powered by 2-litre petrol engines.

In the Clubsport, the four-cylinder turbocharged motor pumps out 296 bhp, permitting a 0-62 mph time of 5.6 seconds and making this the fastest-accelerating GTI model ever built. Aside from that, the Clubsport also comes with a driving mode developed specifically for the Nürburgring, a large two-part rear spoiler and an exclusive front bumper designed to increase downforce.

Gallery: Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI Clubsport (2021)

At the back, the Clubsport gets oval tailpipes, while the cabin is adorned with model-specific upholstery, a digital instrument cluster and satellite navigation. Finally, the car comes with a Vehicle Dynamics Manager system designed to eliminate understeer usually associated with front-wheel-drive cars and a larger braking system.

The R, meanwhile, justifies its higher price tag with a 316 bhp petrol engine. That cuts the 0-62 mph time by almost a second, thanks in part to the four-wheel-drive system, seven-speed automatic gearbox and a new torque vectoring system that can distribute power between the rear wheels to aid traction or cornering.

2022 Volkswagen Golf R Exterior

Further standard equipment includes 18-inch ‘Jerez’ alloy wheels, a full R body kit and quad exhaust pipes, not to mention the blue brake callipers and matt chrome mirror caps. Inside, there’s a heated R steering wheel with a new R button that accesses the driving modes, plus sports seats with integrated head restraints.

If you want more, there’s also a £2,000 R Performance Package that comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, a ‘performance’ rear spoiler and an increased top speed of 168 mph. The pack also includes a ‘Drift’ mode designed to be used on track, and a Special mode that’s tuned specifically for the Nurburgring.

2022 Volkswagen Golf R Interior

“Christmas has come early for fast Volkswagen fans, with not just one performance hero opening to UK customers today, but two,” said Sarah Cox, head of marketing at Volkswagen UK. “The Golf GTI Clubsport takes the iconic GTI with its winning formula and turns the dial up for even more driver involvement and focus, while the Golf R maintains its all-round appeal, with a fantastic new version of our 4MOTION system providing even more fun behind the wheel. UK buyers love hot hatchbacks like the Golf R and GTI, and these cars will represent a considerable share of all new Golf sales. I can’t wait to order one myself!”

Gallery: 2022 Volkswagen Golf R