VW Golf R

Save some dosh and change your own gears

Motor (Australia) - - FIRST FANG - By SCOTT NEW­MAN

We al­ready know the Mk7.5 R is a good thing with the DSG, but does a man­ual make it bet­ter?

YES, THIS is a re­view of a gear­box, but the ra­tio­nale for this is twofold.

Firstly, it al­lows us to spend more time be­hind the wheel of the new Mk7.5 Golf R, which David Mor­ley re­cently dis­cov­ered (Oc­to­ber 2017) is A Very Good Thing. Se­condly, it’s all too easy to say the man­ual is the true en­thu­si­ast’s choice, but in th­ese times of launch con­trol and su­per-slick self­shift­ing gear­boxes, is that still the case?

The ma­jor sacri­fice you’ll have to make in choos­ing the three-pedal ver­sion is in straight-line brag­ging rights, as while the DSG’s trick launch con­trol sys­tem al­lows 0-100km/h to flash by in a claimed 4.8sec, the man­ual takes a more leisurely 5.2sec and un­less you’re pre­pared to burn your clutch to cin­ders, it’s more likely to be in the re­gion of 5.5sec.

On the road, this short­fall mat­ters not a jot. The re­vised EA888 – new in­jec­tors, vari­able cam lift and an elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled turbo waste­gate – now makes 213kW/380Nm; this is 8kW down on Euro cars due to Aus­tralia’s ‘hot cli­mate’ but you won’t miss them, as this boosted four de­liv­ers masses of shove re­gard­less of where the (now dig­i­tal) nee­dle is on the tacho.

Short gear­ing helps. VW has pleas­ingly given two fin­gers to the com­bined fuel econ­omy cy­cle and fit­ted gear­ing that has the en­gine singing at around 2500rpm at

110km/h; in a car with so much grunt it re­sults in each gear be­ing de­voured in mo­ments and the need for reg­u­lar cogswap­ping, no chore with such a light, ac­cu­rate shift.

The clutch is light, ped­als wellspaced for heel-and-toe work and if you fluff it and stall sim­ply jab the clutch pedal again and the en­gine au­to­mat­i­cally re-fires. Fur­ther ben­e­fits of the man­ual ver­sion in­clude a 21kg weight saving, though some of that will be negated by the ex­tra $2500 in your pocket. The only op­tions are the $1300 Driver As­sis­tance pack­age and $1900 panoramic sun­roof.

You might read else­where that the Golf R is a lit­tle dull and not very in­volv­ing; this was a fair crit­i­cism of the Mk6 ver­sion but the Mk7 (and now 7.5) is more than happy to dance if you push it hard. It’s not as raw or play­ful as a Fo­cus RS, but it’s only too will­ing to move its rear mid-cor­ner, al­low­ing you to play with the bal­ance con­stantly.

The all-wheel drive trac­tion and abil­ity to elim­i­nate elec­tronic in­ter­fer­ence (un­like in the front-drive GTI) makes it a more re­ward­ing car to drive hard, yet it re­tains a level of re­fine­ment that noth­ing in its seg­ment can ap­proach. Thanks to its ex­cel­lent ride and bench­mark in­te­rior, there is no bet­ter hot hatch to drive daily.

It won’t keep up with the likes of the Fo­cus RS or Civic Type R in out­right pace, but as an all-’round propo­si­tion it’s out­stand­ing. And yes, un­less you spend your life in grid­lock hell we’d take the man­ual. Golf R? It should be called the Golf Goldilocks.

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