Driving the brand new VW Golf R on ice in Northern Sweeden, is about as far from a real-world test as it gets, but bear with us because there’s method to the madness. As with its predecessor, and unlike the Golf GTI, the Golf R has a Haldex four-wheel drive system capable of sending up to 100 per cent of the power to the rear axle. The engine is the same 2.0 TSI as the Golf GTI, but heavily reworked to produce 296bhp and 380Nm of torque — that’s 69bhp more than a GTI with the Performance pack and 30bhp more than the old Golf R. And perhaps most relevant for this exercise today, this is the first Golf where the traction control can be turned off entirely, which means on a low grip surface like this, big drifts are easy and it’s a serious amount of fun. Order the six-speed manual model and the Golf R will cover 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds, go for the six-speed DSG and that drops to 4.9 seconds, but we won’t be doing any drag races today. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty to be learned about how the Golf R drives.The exhausts produce a lovely rasping sound and the throttle response is excellent — it barely feels turbocharged. The steering is much quicker than a standard Golf — about 2.1 turns lock to lock — and it weighs around 50kg less than the old one, so there’s plenty of agility here and the natural balance is superb. To be fair a part of that is electronic trickery — including a torque vectoring by braking system that’s you can really feel trimming your line and cutting understeer. It’s not just the most powerful Golf ever, but also the most aggressive-looking, whether you go for the three or five-door model. Optional 19-inch wheels, sports suspension that 200mm lower than standard and 5mm lower than a GTI and those trademark quad exhausts all look fantastic, and then there’s the price — it starts at under £30,000 for the three door manual — around £2k less than its sister car – the Audi S3. Our overall verdict? Clearly we’ll have to wait to get the car on UK roads to deliver our definitive verdict, but anyone that thinks a VW Golf is a dull choice needs to have a go in the R — it’s a genuine sports car wrapped up in a hatchback body. .