New Volkswagen Golf R vs Audi S3 vs BMW M135i: practicality

The Golf R has always been a fine all-rounder among the top echelon of hot hatches. Let’s see if the latest one can match the Audi S3 and BMW M135i for thrills and usability...

Volkswagen Golf R 2021 rear seats

Space and practicality

Front space, rear space, seating flexibility, boot

Our contenders are all five-door family hatchbacks that can accommodate four tall adults (or five at a push), and each has a boot roomy enough for a big shop or a small holiday, so in broad terms there probably isn’t enough of a difference between our contenders in this area to sway your decision.

Audi S3 2021 rear seats

But if you do need to put six-footers in the back, they’ll be happiest in the Golf. Although our measurements suggest otherwise (due to the unusual shape of the front seats and the strict way we do this test to ensure repeatability), the Golf has slightly more usable leg room than the S3 and, unless you slot your knees into scalloped-out areas on the backs of the M135i’s front seats, more than its BMW rival too. Meanwhile, rear head room is noticeably the best in the Golf R.

All three cars can swallow five carry-on suitcases below their parcel shelves, so there’s very little in it for usable boot space. The Golf is the only one with a height-adjustable boot floor, although the M135i does have a small amount of underfloor storage space. So does the S3, but, surprisingly, there’s no carpet or tray under there – just exposed bodywork.

BMW M135i 2021 rear seats

All three come with split-folding rear seats as standard. The S3’s seatback splits in a handy 40/20/40 arrangement, something you can pay £150 to have in the M135i. Otherwise the M135i comes with a 60/40 split, just like the Golf – although the latter does have a ski hatch.


Boot space

Volkswagen Golf R

Volkswagen Golf R 2021 boot

Boot 374 litres Suitcases 5


Audi S3

Audi S3 2021 boot

Boot 325-1145 litres Suitcases 5


BMW M135i

BMW M135i 2021 boot

Boot 380-1200 litres Suitcases 5


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