There’s good reason why the seventh generation Golf won the 2013 World Car of the Year title. The Golf 7 is a well-rounded car that seemingly embodies motoring perfection. Its steroid-filled bigger brother, the Golf R, is no different as this heir’s success is an incredible anomaly because the Golf R hasn’t had to compromise anything on its way to becoming a performance behemoth.
It isn’t surprising that the most popular Golf derivative in SA is the GTI. We are performance crazy and enjoy a capable and engaging drive. But the R takes it to the next level with some impressive numbers.
For instance, the two-litre, four-cylinder German kicks out 206kW and 380Nm. Compare that to its GTI sibling of 162kW and you begin to understand just how potent this R is. Trajectory of 0-100km/h is a mere 5.0 seconds dead with the marvellously smooth shifting DSG and it will catapult itself to a top speed of 250km/h (limited).
It’s a beautiful thing and will, no doubt, bring a joyful tear to your eyes because the Golf R offers an all-encompassing experience. Thanks to the latest version of the 4Motion system with the Haldex coupling, the car thrills your entire sensory system.
The usual improvements and refines are immediately evident: stronger engine (18kW increase) and quicker, 0-100km/h time. But the drive quality and handling characteristics have been enhanced.
Firing up the power-plant, you’re greeted by the R’s mumbled demos grumbling from the four-chromed rear tailpipes. Every press of the accelerator sends the car revving freely with a breathless barrage of the jarring exhaust tones punctuated by the blips of the lightning fast gear changes, courtesy of the DSG.
To say I’m impressed is an understatement. The German knows how to handle itself in almost every situation. It’s easy to point and shoot as the car offers plenty of good feedback and the overall drive puts you into a hypnotic trance, thanks to its engaging personality.
There’s very little lacking, inside the cabin. The carbon fibre inlays, dubbed the "Carbon Touch" design; leather sport seats set the tone and are complemented by the three-spoke steering wheel in R design.
Its outward demeanour is similar; while there are no in-your-face performance styling cues, VW has opted for the subtle look, which we love.
The rear diffuser and small R logos are a clear giveaway, but you will be forgiven for seeing a Golf R in the street and walking straight past it. However, it’s the understated design that works so well with this car. From the rear it looks brash mostly because of the smoked LED rear lights and four-chrome tailpipes that give it the street credit some might crave.
Ultimately, VW has parcelled up the Golf R into a scintillating package that’s intense, beautiful and breathtaking. The only gripe: the ride is on the hard side, particularly for everyday use.
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