DRIV­ING

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test -

ABLAST in the R36 is fun, but don’t ex­pect to get too comfortable. It has a crack­ing en­gine, supreme grip and many lux­ury fea­tures, but some peo­ple will find the ride too firm for everyday driv­ing.

Ride com­fort is sub­jec­tive, and though many will find the R36 a bit stiff, it’s bear­able. But I found it too harsh on less-than-per­fect sur­faces and even some high­ways.

Apart from the damp­ing, the R36 is a live­able car that is also quick, if not as fast as a Lancer EVO or an FPV F6.

The en­gine is the cen­tre­piece and sounds fan­tas­tic as it spins to 7000 revs. It de­liv­ers its power in a lin­ear fash­ion; there is no peak or trough.

The dual-clutch DSG au­to­matic is a great gear­box — the shifts are fast and the pad­dles fun. The only prob­lem comes when mov­ing away from a stop on an in­cline, in which case it can take a while to en­gage the clutch and you have to press the ac­cel­er­a­tor pedal harder than you’d imag­ine.

It is also an­noy­ing that, even in man­ual mode, the trans­mis­sion changes up by it­self.

The R36 han­dles ex­tremely well and sits very flat in the bends, largely be­cause of that rock-hard sus­pen­sion. It changes di­rec­tion eas­ily, holds the road well and has re­mark­able trac­tion in wet and slip­pery con­di­tions.

The R36 comes with a lot of gear, in­clud­ing leather and al­can­tara trim and bril­liant wrap­around front seats that heat.

Bi-xenon head­lights point­ing in the di­rec­tion you are point­ing and dual-zone cli­mate con­trol are wel­come but ex­pected in a car at this price.

The sound sys­tem has good punch, but has no aux­il­lary in­put for your MP3 player. You have to pay ex­tra for it, which is a bit rich for a $65,000 car.

Like the other Pas­sats, the R36 is quite spa­cious and has more than enough room for four or even five peo­ple. Legroom and head­room in the back is good and there is fair space in the boot.

The de­sign­ers have given the R36 a sporty im­age, but it’s not over the top and doesn’t look like a boy racer’s car.

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