DIS­CREET BUT DEV­AS­TAT­ING

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Drive Way - Bill Buys

THOSE in the know might like to call the new Golf R a ‘four-door Scirocco’, but those not so clued up on hot ma­chin­ery will prob­a­bly think it’s a reg­u­lar Golf.

The dif­fer­ence is like com­par­ing Tiger Woods with the coun­try club champ.

And that’s part of the beauty of the R. Its styling is sub­tle, mak­ing it the Clark Kent of the Golf range. But keen mo­torists will be quick to spot its strik­ing 19-inch al­loys, low stance and quar­tet of big-bore tailpipes.

And as for the Scirocco con­nec­tion, well, it does have the same power out­put: a mighty 206kW, which gives it 44 more kilo Watts than its bet­ter-known and greatly re­spected GTI sib­ling.

The Golf R costs $10k more, sits lower, comes with a six-speed man­ual or six-speed DSG du­al­clutch trans­mis­sion, five switch­able chas­sis set­tings, four elec­tronic diff locks and var­i­ous other fea­tures that give it a buck­et­ful of ex­tra zip and grip. And more econ­omy.

Priced from $51,990 for the man­ual and $2000 more for the DSG ver­sion, as tested, the R is aimed at a splin­ter sec­tor of the mar­ket that re­ally ap­pre­ci­ates sporty mo­tor­ing, some­thing far re­moved from the daily plod from the sub­urbs to the city and back in a SUV or a Getz .

So while it won’t ex­cite avid watch­ers of Home and Away, it will cer­tainly raise the neck hair of sport­ing car club mem­bers.

The big-tur­boed 2.0litre 206/380 all-wheel drive hatch can run to 100km/h in five seconds flat – and its av­er­age fuel con­sump­tion is down from 8.7 to 7.1litres/100km.

Driv­ers can choose between Eco, Nor­mal, In­di­vid­ual, Com­fort and Race set­tings, plus there’s an ESP Sport switch that lets folk let­ting their R off the leash at a track event push into the cor­ners a bit harder be­fore elec­tron­ics step in.

So it’s a car for all sea­sons: a reg­u­lar Golf if you choose Eco and pot­ter off to the shops Mon­day to Fri­day, a some­what more in­volved drive for a week­end out­ing in In­di­vid­ual or Com­fort, and a po­ten­tial class win­ner at the cir­cuit in Race mode.

The DSG swaps cogs faster than the hu­man hand, the AWD and low cen­tre of grav­ity give the R as­tound­ing road­hold­ing and there are huge brakes to pull it up quickly and se­curely.

Of course it has all the in-car in­fo­tain­ment non­sense du jour, a mil­lion stars in safety, lovely in­te­rior light­ing and space for four, but it’s es­sen­tially a driver’s car, rich in driver data, su­perb con­trols and a de­light­ful bur­ble from the po­tent mo­tor.

Sole nig­gle for me was the elec­tronic park­ing brake. A real car like the R needs a real hand­brake.

Verdict: One for the com­mit­ted driver.

The R is the hottest Golf yet.

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