The Golf R sits atop the pyramid offering the most performance out of the bunch and is, naturally, the most expensive of the lot.
It is also the new-kid-on-the-block compared to the rest and does not have the reputation of the GTI.
So is it worth spending the extra money for it to get more power and speed? Let’s look at what the Golf R has to offer.
This is what the Golf R is all about. Under the hood is the 2.0-litre TSI turbocharged engine which has a maximum output of 290PS at 5,400rpm and a maximum torque of 380Nm from 1,850rpm.
It is paired with a 7-speed wet dual-clutch DSG transmission and the 4Motion all-wheel drive system distributes its power accordingly.
It takes only 5.1 seconds to go from 0 to 100kph and top speed is electronically-limited to 250kph.
The new, facelifted Golf R has minor updates to its looks and now features a new bumper, a block pattern lower grille intake and the advanced adaptive LED headlamps with dynamic light assist.
At the rear, you will find a refreshed LED tail lights and four-slat diffuser.
The most telling of the changes come in the form of the 19-inch Pretoria Black alloys with 235/35 profile tyres.
The changes are not immediately noticeable at a glance and it’s the R badge and the quad exhaust pipes in the rear which sets it apart.
The styling is muted and does not outperform the GTI in terms of aggressiveness. In fact the GTI looks more sporty with its red coloured brake calipers while the R is simply grey.
And the same can be said of its interior which is covered in grey. It does have sports seats though, wrapped in Vienna R leather upholstery and there are hints of carbon-fibre trim on the dash, gearknob and the doors.
It does not mean that it’s boring though. It just doesn’t call attention to itself with red stitching or accents like most performance-oriented cars out there.
Yet it is refined when you look at the layout of the dashboard with its 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system and the flat-bottomed R sports steering wheel with paddle shifters.
Also eye-catching are the 12.3-inch Active Info Display virtual instrument cluster and the brushed stainless steel pedals.
The driver gets the power adjustable seat with memory and it is cosy all-round with dual zone climate control and rear vents.
The rear seats sits two comfortably as the centre tunnel is tall as to accommodate its all-wheel drive system.
The Golf R has 343 litres of boot space which can be extended to 1,233 litres with the rear seats folded and makes for a practical car indeed.
Ride and handling
Besides boasting powerful performance figures, it wouldn’t mean much if it’s a difficult beast to tame. Of course that is not the case with the Golf R.
You have five driving modes to choose from: Eco, Comfort, Normal, Race and Individual.
So depending on the mood or situation you are in, you can switch between modes or leave it at Race because that’s the most fun of all.
In Race mode, the exhaust note is louder and the suspension is stiff which is uncomfortable for rear passengers. But not so for the driver. Put the pedal to the metal and gasp at the furious acceleration it produces.
Turbo lag is hardly noticeable and take-offs are immediate.
The gear shifts are also quick and the DSG transmission slots in the correct speed confidently be it straightline or cornering.
The steering is sharp and it is so effortless to throw the car around yet so planted that you will be left wide-eyed and grinning ear-to ear.
The brakes are equally impressive with a good bite to it and it’s always a joy to hear the engine automatically rev-matching as the gears shift down.
Now here’s the amazing thing about the Golf R. Yes, it is a bat-out-of-hell and yet, it can be tamed for a quieter, more comfortable ride.
Just choose the Eco drive mode and the car gets real quiet, the dampers are softer and the gear mapping makes for better fuel efficiency.
Don’t be fooled into thinking the car is slow in this mode because it isn’t. The car gets back into action as soon as you hit the accelerator. It’s just quieter as the exhaust note does not flood the cabin compared to Race and even Normal mode, which makes it very practical for everyday driving.
The Golf R has advanced safety features such as the Proactive Occupant Protection System which uses electrical pre-tensioners to remove slack from the front seatbelts and prevent the occupants from moving to a position in which they are more likely to be injured if a collision occurs.
When a collision does occur, the Automatic Post Collision Brake System triggers emergency braking. It also has XDS+ Advanced electronic differential lock for improved road handling and is linked to the Electronic Stabilization Control (ESC).
There is Manoeuvre Braking which automatically brakes the car when it senses objects up to 10kph during parking. And it comes equipped with seven airbags, Driver Alert System, rear view camera and ISOFIX.
Extra kit on the Golf R includes front/rear fog lamps, brake hold, electronic parking brake, cruise control, automatic headlights/wipers, keyless access lock/start, Adaptive Chassis Control (DCC), Air Care dual-zone climatronic system, 19-inch wheels, progressive steering, 9.2inch touchscreen “Discover Pro” Navigation infotainment system with gesture control, 10 GB jukebox, USB and iPod/iPhone interface, SD card slot, AUX-IN, Bluetooth, 8 speakers, App-Connect smartphone connectivity (MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto), LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, Dynamic Light Assist (DLA) advanced light beam control with LED taillights and dynamic indicators.
Price and reliability
The Golf R is priced at RM295,990 (on-the-road without insurance), and is covered by Volkswagen Passenger Cars Malaysia (VPCM) with a package that includes a 5-year manufacturer’s warranty, 3-year free maintenance, and 5-year roadside assistance.
Three colours are available for the Golf R: Lapiz Blue, Pure White and Deep Black.
If you’ve got the money to spare, skip the GTI and go for the Golf R instead. Its minimalist design makes it a sleeper car - unassuming yet blisteringly fast when you want it to be. It’s both an everyday car and weekend warrior.
Plus you’ve got ample boot space for your luggage needs and even more if you fold down the seats.
The Golf R has performance, convenience and comfort and you’d be hard-pressed to find another car like this at this price range.
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