Volkswagen Golf R

In-lire 4-cyl, I984cc. turbocharged

Front transverse

I99g/km

266bhp @ 6000rpm 258b ft @ 2500rprn Six-speed manual gearbox isix-speed DCT optional), Haldex 4WD, ESP MacPherson struts, coil sprngs, dampers, anti-roll bar independent tour-link, coil springs, dampers, anti-roll bar

Ventilated discs, 345mm front, 310mm rear, ARS. FRD

7.5 x 18in front and rear

235/40 RI8 front and rear 152kg l78bhp/ton

5.7sec (claimed, 5.5sec with DSG)

I55mph (limited)

£30345

There's no question that the Golf R is a good car. It reels solid and refined, especially over long distances, and it's pretty quick. However, there's a moment when you're driving it and you think: Hang on... this costs over £30K. What does it do that the GTI doesn't?' And the answer is, unfortunately, very little. It certainly doesn't feel four-wheel-drive or exploit the fact that it is, like the Mitsubishi and Subaru.

The Evo X may l>e a toned down, more refined Evo, but compared with rivals, including the WRX STI, it stands out as being wonderfully focused. It's supple enough to be used every day but its directness and willingness to get stuck in mark it out as a true drivers' car and make it easier to forgive its thirst and limited range. As ever, though, the Subaru has more character and a slightly more easy-going nature. You have to work a bit harder to get results, especially with its less connected, less feelsome steering, but this WRX STI is the best current-generation Impreza we've driven. It would be easy to see why you'd choose it over the Evo, but we'd plump for the sharper Mitsubishi.

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