The most potent Golf in Volkswagen showrooms has a lot going for it. The iconic shape still offers an airy cabin with plenty of headroom, a useable rear seat once you climb back there (or choose the 4-door and make it easy) and family-friendly hatchback utility. VW’s beloved 2.0-liter turbo engine has been cranked up to 11 and now sends 256 hp to all four wheels and the only way you can get it is with a proper 6-speed manual. The Lamborghini-esque steering wheel makes you feel like you’re in something from the other end of Volkswagen’s empire and our Sunroof & Nav trim came with exactly zero options. So why can’t we recommend it to driving enthusiasts? Because at $36k the hardware isn’t enough to justify the premium over other thrill machines like the brilliant Scion FR-S and even Volkswagen’s own legendary GTI, which will get you 85% of the R’s performance for a whole lot less outlay. And it’s not anywhere on our top 10 priorities list, but even then, 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway is pretty hard to swallow from a 4-cylinder in twenty-twelve. If your best memories have always been in Golf’s you’ll love everything about this one just as we did. Everything but the price, that is.