The sound of the engine is rather mild-mannered in Comfort, but it adopts a raspier and altogether more meaningful tone in Race, Nürburgring and Drift, where there are also pops and crackles through the exhaust on the overrun.  

It is all backed up by excellent dynamics. Responsive and accurate steering ensures directional changes are always swift and crisp in the more sporting driving modes. There is also added weighting and greater feel to the electromechanical system than in lesser Golf estate models, giving the driver added confidence over more challenging roads.

The new four-wheel drive system provides a more rear-biased apportioning of drive, making for more neutral handling. You can still feel the front wheels pulling you out of corners but the ability to send differing amounts of drive to each of the rear wheels reduces a tendency to understeer, giving the car a more satisfyingly planted feel. There is also greater traction and, with the optional 235/35 R19 Bridgestone Potenza S005 tyres of our test car, more grip on offer than before.

Body roll is well contained thanks to the fast-acting qualities of the adaptive damping and improvements in overall body structure stiffness. Still, the Golf R estate never feels quite as settled as with the smaller, lighter and ultimately more nimble Golf R hatchback.

It is doubtful many prospective buyers will ever take the new Golf R estate to a race circuit or a skidpan to test all of the various driving modes. But if they do, they’ll be able to drift the new model at seemingly impossible angles, as we discovered at its launch in Germany last week.   

The ride is predictably firm in the more sporting driving modes, but it relaxes and is impressively unobtrusive in Comfort mode, despite the optional 19in tyres of our test car. There is, however, a constant roar from the low-profile rubber, even on smooth-surfaced German roads, most notably at the front end, taking the edge off the otherwise impressive refinement.