We’ve been anticipating this car for quite some time and for the right reasons. You see, while the GTI is known as the sporty sibling in the Golf household, the Golf R is like a hyperactive child that just got its sugar high, laced with tartrazine. This is because it does everything the GTI does… only better.
The new Golf R is powered by the newly designed 2.0-litre turbocharged engine also found in the GTI, but this advanced four-cylinder powertrain has been tweaked and tuned by the men in white coats cooped up in a lab at VW in Germany.
The result is a totemic of performance for the brand as the engine produces 206kW of power (an 18kW increase over the outgoing model) and 380Nm of torque. This power is delivered to all four wheels via VW’s DSG transmission, which also needs no introduction. Thankfully the injection of power and chaos is controlled by the latest version of the 4Motion system with a fifth-generation Haldex coupling.
It makes for an entertaining companion. The close-ratio transmission, demonic power delivery and stability at speed can leave your head spinning. The car seems cool, calm and collected in almost every situation. Flooring the gas pedal and banging on the paddle shifts allows the car to go from standstill to 100km/h in five seconds.
We were dizzied by the improvements and statistics. The manual gearbox (only available in the second half of 2014) reaches 100km/h after just 5.2 seconds, some 0.5 seconds quicker than the previous model while the top speed is electronically limited to 250km/h.
The scary thing is that you don’t realise just how quickly the Golf R picks up speed and you can quickly be sauntering along at speeds of well over 160km/h without so much as a mumble from the car.The ride delivery is impeccable and while the body height has been lowered by 20mm and rolling on 18-inch wheels, the ride quality only gets a little harsh over bumps.
Some of the other improvements made to the new model include the addition of the four-wheel EDS as transverse locks. This system works in conjunction with the Haldex coupling and EDS to make the electronic stability control system act as the transverse locks. The system briefly brakes a wheel that is slipping, enabling uninterrupted and stable transfer of drive power to the wheel on the opposite side. In the Golf R, the electronic differential locks are implemented at both axles in what is referred to as four-wheel EDS. The EDS is a nifty piece of kit made better by XDS+, which brakes the wheels on the inside during fast driving through bends, optimising steering behaviour.
But this fast-sprinting German isn’t just about the pace, because the engineers also tried to incorporate a greener side to its persona. With 18% better efficiency over the sixth-generation Golf R, this model offers a combined fuel consumption figure of 6.9 litres/100km and 159g/km of CO2 although you will be hard pressed to get figures anywhere near these.
So what sets the Golf R apart from its GTI sibling, particularly in the design department?
Well, the Golf R is equipped with an extensive package to highlight its customised and exclusive features. The specially designed bumpers, side sills and 19-inch Cadiz alloy wheels and the visually distinguishable standard bi-xenon headlights with newly designed LED daytime running lights (in dual-U design), dark red LED rear lights and two-branch exhaust system with four chrome tailpipes all set it apart.
Inside, the Golf R underlines its position as the flagship with leather sport seats, leather-trimmed three-spoke sport steering wheel, ambience lighting and automatic climate control to name but a few.The Golf R is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It doesn’t flaunt its aggression, but isn’t shy to growl at a moment’s notice. And since it’s competing in a class with a lot of big dogs, this VW knows how to run at the front of the pack.
Admittedly, starting at R486 200, the pricing might be a bit hard to swallow for the 2.0 TSI 206kW DSG, but it still comes in cheaper than its rivals and let’s face it, the Euro hasn’t been kind.