Driven: VW Golf R – Just a GTI on steroids?

Discussion in 'News and Features' started by Won, Jun 5, 2012.

  1. Won

    Won 5 Year | Silver

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    After a pretty long wait, we were finally able to get our hands on VW’s Mk6 Golf R. We’ve driven it briefly on two separate occasions before (here and here respectively), but it was difficult to form proper impressions when hormones and excitement gets in the way. Also, official units sold by Volkswagen Group Malaysia (VGM) locally are slightly different from both cars we drove some months back; local Golf Rs have been detuned slightly to 255PS/330Nm, down from 270PS/350Nm. We’ve been told that this was done to better suit our hotter climate conditions; this was the same case in other regions such as Australia, Japan, South Africa and America.

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    Visually, I find the R to be the best looking car in the range (amongst TSI/GTI/R offerings). The styling here is a lot less in your face, more refined, and to me, a pinch less shouty than the GTI. The front bumper has been restyled and is now more aggressive; thankfully, it does not inherit the previous generation’s awful chromed grille. The R32 badge has also been trimmed to just ‘R’ now, clear indication that there is no longer a mean V6 under the bonnet. Its DRL LEDs have now been integrated into the front bumper and although the fog lamps have been removed, I never found the bi-xenons lacking. There is no doubt that the prettiest details are the ‘R’ LED tail lights. Other external cues include center mounted twin tailpipes as well as handsome 19-inch alloys. One easily missed detail are the tiny wheel arch winglets on each corner; I’m told that these are installed due to Euro regulations on wheel offsets for 19-inch rims and above.

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    Like on the outside, in-cabin ambiance is also subdued, and is ninety percent standard, high-quality veedub fare. There’s plenty of soft-touch plastics and feel-good leather which has been tastefully appointed across the cabin – very nice things to look and touch. Of course, this being the top-of-the-line model, there has to be some difference. Both the front seats have now been replaced by semi-buckets that look good, feel good, and when viewed as a passer-by from the outside, hint at the R’s true prowess. I also like the blue needles used on the dial gauges; whilst this is a very subtle change, they actually help to give a very Tron-like vibe. Perhaps the only thing I didn’t fancy was the use of black plastic fitting on the steering wheel (chrome in the Passat CC R-line) that looked and felt slightly tacky.

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    Press the button to start the engine and you immediately notice the lacking V6 grumble from the R32. Instead, under the bonnet lies a two-litre burbly four-pot turbo. While some might lament this engine’s downsize, the Mk6 Golf R is actually the most powerful production Golf ever. Plant your right foot in the throttle and you feel the surge of torque urging you forwards. Here in Malaysia, only the slick 6-speed DSG box is offered with zerotohundred dispatched in 5.7secs (5.5secs in the non-detuned R, 5.8secs with the 6-speed manual); a fraction slower than the Passat CC R-line, but pacey enough by hot-hatch standards. That said, turbo lag was definitely more apparent, which slightly diminishes the overall excitement. Although peak torque arrives at just 2,400rpm, the thrust only arrives from 3,000rpm onwards, pulling steadily through the range.

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    Essentially, what the R has under the bonnet is the same powerplant in the GTI, except with higher boost (17.1psi v/s 11.7psi). Compared with the previous R32, the immediate benefit would be a significant weight-loss. This, coupled together with VW’s awesome AWD system, contributes greatly to the R’s crisp, precise handling - push hard, into a (fast) corner and you know exactly where the nose is. Even under hard braking, the R never steps out of line to ruin your day. Although the steering is very well weighted (chunky, just the way I like it), I’ve got to say it lacked a little feel. Three dynamic driving modes are offered – Comfort, Normal, and Sport; surprisingly, I found the R perfectly capable of attacking twisty roads even in Comfort mode. With the suspension set to Sport, ride was a tad bit too harsh, especially on undulating, pimply Malaysian road surfaces.

    As is the case with every other car out on the market, the Golf R has its own set of flaws. The most apparent is likely its steep asking price. For the extra RM60k over a regular Golf GTI, the outright performance gains seem to be slightly lacking. Another thorn in the R’s side would be the Renault Megane RS250 – more engaging, buckets more fun, almost as quick, but significantly cheaper. Another annoying discovery was the unenthusiastic in-cabin turbo drone, seemingly louder from the driver’s seat, really got on my nerves especially on long highway cruises. I didn’t play any music whilst driving because the volume would have to significantly loud to drown out the engine’s thrum.

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    Instead, the Golf R shines in other departments – cabin quality for example is unrivalled; materials both look and feel great, exuding a premium feel. There’s also plenty of standard kit: an impressive all-wheel drive 4MOTION system, comfortable semi-buckets up front, sat-nav, tilt/slide moonroof, along with subtle exterior tweaks that makes the Golf R look more handsome. Ultimately, I suppose you could say that the Golf R is more a gentleman’s hot-hatch; more refined than butch, packaging practicality with pace. Like the R32 before, the Mk6 Golf R should remain a rare sight on our roads and continue to appeal to VW fans (not to mention the probability of higher residuals).

    The reality here is: if you have the extra budget, then the Golf R remains a good buy. It is comfortable, plenty quick, refined, and a family-oriented hot-hatch; yes, essentially a Golf GTI on steroids. But if your budget hovers around the RM200k mark, then the Golf GTI is a much cheaper, equally fantastic alternative. And in truth, the GTI is the car that I would pick between the two.

    Volkswagen Golf R - YouTube

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    To view/download all images of the VW Golf R in hi-res, click here.

    Volkswagen Mk6 Golf R
    Zerotohundred: 5.7secs
    Top Speed: 253km/h (tested)
    Engine: 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo
    Power: 255PS / 6,000 rpm
    Torque: 330Nm / 2,400 – 5,200 rpm
    Weight: 1,541kg (kerb weight)
    Fuel Economy: 8.4L/100km (claimed)
    Wheels: 8J x 19
    Tyres: 235/35 R19
    Price: RM268,888 (OTR excluding road tax and insurance)
     

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  2. l2s_turbo

    l2s_turbo Senior Member
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    Saw both the golf R and the scirocco R that day at the showroom.. Both were superb looking.. envy you bro, you got a chance to test drive it.. How about the scirocco R? Hope to see the scirrocco R review too..
     
  3. fiuz85

    fiuz85 15 Year | Platinum

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    i drive my fren golf R once so light and super power:vroam:
     
  4. Won

    Won 5 Year | Silver

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    We'll hoping to get the Scirocco R sometime in June, or as soon as a unit becomes available. Would be interesting to see how it compares against the Megane RS250. Pics will be updated on our Facebook if/when we collect the car ;)
     
  5. 6UE5t

    6UE5t Senior Member
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    Hmm then maybe if the price is lower, say by 20K, would you choose the R instead of the GTI?
     
  6. paohyean

    paohyean 5 Year | Silver

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    I'd go for the Megane RS250..
    Not only it's cheaper..
    It's also better looking than the Golf R..
     
  7. Won

    Won 5 Year | Silver

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    For RM20k cheaper, yes. I would pick the Golf R over the GTI. In fact, I'd pick the R over the RS250 as well. The truth is, I'm actually a huge fan of the Mk6 Golf, and would choose it over a Scirocco, even.
     
  8. AvanT

    AvanT Senior Member
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    Think I read it somewhere before, the engine from current Mk6 Golf Gti is different from the Golf R.
    Isn't the Golf R using the older Mk 5 engine? with slightly higher compression ratio? hmm...
     
  9. paohyean

    paohyean 5 Year | Silver

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    True..
    Golf R uses the older EA113 engine which is almost nuclear proof..
    It was also used in the Mk5 GTi..
    The Mk5 unit produced about 210bhp while in the R form it produced 270bhp..

    The EA888 used in the Mk6 GTi is the successor to the EA113..
    It is easier to build, lighter and produces less emission while maintaining the same power output as the Mk5 unit..
    However it was reported that it was not as durable as the EA113 unit..
    There were also theories that the EA888 unit could not sustain such high level of tuning used for the R..
     
  10. kUmUcHaI 11/1

    kUmUcHaI 11/1 Senior Member
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    Look at those 1500+kg with sub 6 sec 0-100...
    my god..must be fast
     
  11. rs3

    rs3 5 Year | Silver

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    Just wondering, how issit compare to an audi rs3??
     
  12. SuganG

    SuganG Senior Member
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    Waiting for my Candy White R. Should be getting it next week. Hope it's interesting and addictive to drive.
     
  13. 6UE5t

    6UE5t Senior Member
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    Yeah, me too, I like the look of the MK6 a lot.
     
  14. Won

    Won 5 Year | Silver

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    SuganG, post here with your thoughts of the R when you get your car. Will be interesting to compare notes!

    As for comparing it against the Audi RS3; unfortunately, I've not driven the car so I can't compare. That said, there was an occasion where I had a spirited drive with an Audi TT; not sure exactly which model it was, but I'm sure it wasn't the TT-RS since it couldn't keep up with the R...
     
  15. SuganG

    SuganG Senior Member
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    I surely will update as to how the car performs once i get it in my hands. Both as an everyday mode of travel and most imporant as a tool for some exciting driving. Most probably IMHO the RS3 might be more powerful and therefore slightly more exhilirating to drive. But then again i have never driven an RS3.
     
  16. SuganG

    SuganG Senior Member
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    Got my Candy White R today. Couldn't do much as i had a flight to operate at 9pm. So the reviews on daily use have to wait. First impression? Bloody awesome car to drive. Acceleration and control was spot on. Only thing was the navigation didn't have any data loaded. No maps whatsoever. So i'm wondering if anyone can help with where to go to get these maps downloaded into my HDD. Thanks guys.
     
  17. Won

    Won 5 Year | Silver

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    The media units all face this problem as well. All the navigation options request for a DVD to be loaded. I would suggest approaching your SA and getting them to update the maps.

    Btw - congrats on a sweet ride! Enjoy her in good health :)
     
  18. SuganG

    SuganG Senior Member
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    Thanks bro. Will call my SA and get the maps into the system. Still waiting to enjoy the drive. Will only be home tonight and after a day off i'm flying out again. But a really sharp car that R.
     

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