In the automotive world, adding a letter designation instantly tells people what you're up to: if there's a sinuous "S" on the back, expect sporty handling; if there's an "E," it'll either stand for efficiency or you'll be plugging your car into the wall.
But perhaps nothing is as inspiring as the regal R - emblazoning the 18th letter of the alphabet on your machine is a bold move for any manufacturer to make.
It signals an intent to mark out whatever's behind the badge as something very special indeed, the alpha and omega of the model selected.
Well, today's Golf is brought to you by the letter R, and it's the ultimate expression of the Teutonic hot hatchback.
Surprisingly, it's a four-door. If you know your way around the VW car configurator, you might note the two-door GTi was previously king of the turbocharged hill over there, with the lightest weight and the highest performance.
And while this über-racy hot hatchback is $10,000 more expensive than its entry-level cousin, you might not know it to look at it. Sure, there's special 18-inch alloy wheels, a unique front and rear fascia and the aforementioned "R" badging, but overall things are quite subtle.
Start thinking about what kind of hot-looking metal you can get yourself for almost $40K, and the Golf R doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. If you want to flash your cash, you'd be far better off in a Genesis Coupe, brightly-coloured Mustang or Camaro. Heck, for that kind of scratch, you can see your way into a BMW 3-Series.
Then again, I'd like to think this is VW at its best. While Japanese and Korean manufacturers seem deadlocked in a competition to out-style each other with swoopy designs, restraint is a good thing.
Yes, this car hauls. No, it doesn't shout about it.
It's practical too, with four-door ease of access and a big trunk. I mean, it is a Golf after all, and that makes it a Euro-sized family car.
As a special model, you do get a few little touches not found on a regular GTi, like aluminum kickplates and some R-badging inside. Everything else, though, could be found on your average high-trim regular Golf.
That means a clean, simplistic layout, uncluttered and spartan. The seats are comfortable and well-bolstered and free of tacky badging. The stereo is very good, but not thumping or blaring.
In fact, the only un-subtle thing about this car is having to explain to someone why you paid so much for it: they'll think you're a pirate. It's a Golf ARRRRR.
Of course, you could always just take 'em for a spin around the block.
With a tuned up 2.0L stolen out of the Audi TT, a solid six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel-drive to harness every one of its 256 horses, the Golf R is sure to impress right-seat passengers with grip, grip, grip. At least, once you figure out how to get it off the line without stalling, that is.
It's not a great first impression, but it's also not an inaccurate one - the Golf R is not a boy racer like its front-wheel-drive cousins. It's grown-up, sensible, responsible: fast, but not Fast & Furious.
While its $39,675 price seems sky-high next to a regular GTi, the gap shrinks considerably when you start considering options.
Namely, the Golf R doesn't have any. It's a fully-loaded model; pick your colour (grey, blue or black), and that's it. No optional audio package, no extra navigation.
Load up the base GTi, and the gap closes to right around $3,000 - for an extra 50hp and all-wheel-drive, that's not bad.
All-wheel-drive grip; mid-range power; comfortable and practical layout; king of the hill status.
Long first gear; big price tag; limited colour avail-ability.
The Checkered Flag:
As you'd expect from something carrying an R-badge, it's the ultimate expression of the Golf.