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I don’t usually wake up early on Mondays, but throw in Sepang and VW’s mk7 Golf R into the equation and getting out of bed in the wee hours of Monday no longer seems like such a chore. The new car is powered by an already familiar 2.0-litre turbo mill that makes some 280PS/380Nm – a 10PS and 30Nm increase over its predecessor.

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Under the bonnet of the new R car lies an EA888 powerplant that was used in the mk6 and mk7 Golf GTI (the predecessor, mk6 Golf R, was powered by an EA113 mill that powered the mk5 Golf GTI). Naturally, there are some changes – modified pistons, injection valves and a different turbo that yields more power. Peak power output is achieved from 5700 rpm and peak torque from 1750 rpm, these are 300rpm and 250rpm earlier than the previous car. The new R is some 46kg lighter too, thanks in part to the MQB’s lightweight construction.

Quick facts on the new MK7 Golf R

  • Zerotohundred: 5 seconds
  • Power: 280ps
  • Torque: 380nm
  • Drivetrain: DSG with updated 4-Motion & 5th Gen Haldex coupling, Permanent 4WD
  • Price: RM245,888 and 285,888 for Optional Tech Pack

Our Golf R Launch Article:
2014 Golf R launched at VW Wing Hin Autohaus! – 280ps / 380nm from RM245,888

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Full throttle out on Sepang’s long straight confirms exactly what we imagined – the new car feels lighter and there’s no clean way to describe its rapid acceleration. The new R has a claimed Zerotohundred sprint of 5 seconds (shaving half a second off the previous car’s sprint time), and it certainly feels that quick. Even in Race mode, power delivery was linear; you don’t feel just how fast you’re actually travelling until you glance at the speedo. We easily passed 210km/h before I had to peel my eyes away to focus on my braking point as we approached T1.

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All that power is dealt with impressively by the R’s 4MOTION system. In regular driving conditions, power is delivered to the front rubbers, but where necessary, can all be routed to the rear. The R’s 4MOTION system works hand-in-hand with other electrical wizardry, namely EDS (electronic slip differential) and XDS+ (electronic differential lock) to improve the car’s handling and to minimize understeer. Surprisingly, we were told that the car’s ESP (electronic stability control) could be deactivated completely by holding the ESC button for 3 seconds.

There are three different levels of stability control; each which gave varying degree of control to the car. While we tested all three options of ESC, we attempted to carry too much speed into corners with stability completely deactivated… and were surprised at the competence of the remaining electronics to save the car from running wide off track. Despite our best efforts with silly entry speeds and weird lines, the R just held on without fuss.

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Swapping from the mk7 R, we headed for an mk7 GTI and gave chase to the closest R car out on track. Despite our best efforts, it was clear that the R was slicing corners better than the GTI. All hope was lost as soon as we hit the long straight, because the gap in power became immediately apparent; with the view of the R getting smaller and smaller. We’ve tested the mk7 GTI on many occasions, and although it feels slightly bland, it remains a brilliant car in its own right. The mk7 R however, is more sublime, simply better to drive.

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Our verdict?

We only managed a couple of laps in the new R, but we’re already blown away by just how far improved it is compared to its predecessor. It’s only a matter of time before we get our hands on a test car for a couple of days, and we’re definitely looking forward to it… so stay tuned for our report in real-life driving scenarios.