Volk­swa­gen Golf R


Top Gear (Malaysia) - - Contents -

Volk­swa­gen Pas­sen­ger

Cars Malaysia (VPCM) launched the full range of its lat­est Mk7.5 Golf ear­lier this year. When the time came for us to pick one for a proper sam­pling, we aimed for the one at the top of the food chain, the Golf R. It was the promise of 10 ex­tra horses and the dy­namic tweaks to match that called out to us.

The Mk7 Golf R was al­ready a bril­liant car to be­gin with and, we thought, ev­ery lit­tlest shred of im­prove­ment in the new R would only make it an even hot­ter hatch.

Things started out a lit­tle more tepid in­stead.

The first five min­utes be­hind the Golf R’s flat-bot­tomed steer­ing wheel failed to yield the thrills we ex­pected. Our right foot was bounc­ing on and off the throt­tle like a cat on a hot tin roof, but the car re­sponded in the most lin­ear way pos­si­ble, its pow­er­train’s com­posed out­put to all four wheels seem­ingly obliv­i­ous to our er­ratic in­puts. It was an im­pres­sive qual­ity, just not the kind we ex­pected from some­thing pack­ing 286bhp. If some­one had told us we were driv­ing a Golf TSI dressed in R-Line bits, we would have eaten it all up. It had the com­fort to match, af­ter all.

We soon iden­ti­fied the R’s Eco mode – one of five modes – as the mas­ter­mind of this great de­cep­tion. Why some­one would even put it in Eco in the first place was be­yond us. But to know that the Golf R can com­pletely switch off and be­have like a 1.4 TSI on de­mand is good be­cause its two-litre mill sure knows how to light up the fire­works when you

switch it to Race. That’s what the R stands for af­ter all, right?

With all sys­tems on max­i­mum, the Golf R breathed louder than usual and re­sponded to our slight­est in­put changes with much more zeal. There’s a sense of man­age­able hy­per­sen­si­tiv­ity to its throt­tle and steer­ing in Race mode as the car tight­ens up and feels bet­ter geared to do mul­ti­ple 0-100kph runs within its 5.1-sec­ond claim while still main­tain­ing a sense of or­der for the driver to en­joy the con­sid­er­ably height­ened per­for­mance in rel­a­tive com­fort.

In that state, we had no doubt the Golf R was primed to set com­pet­i­tive lap times on any given cir­cuit. But in the real world, the ef­fort­less­ness un­der­ly­ing its track-ready ath­leti­cism means you’ll be rack­ing up one speed­ing ticket af­ter an­other if you don’t pay close at­ten­tion to the speedome­ter. There’s plenty of re­fine­ment on the move cou­pled with ease of steer­ing at high speeds – a by-prod­uct of the R’s clever Haldex AWD setup – to make the most timid driver feel like a sea­soned pro in the hot seat.

The Golf R’s user friend­li­ness is also due to the slick shift­ing of its wet-clutch DSG, which re­duces by one the num­ber of key com­po­nents in play (seven if you count each for­ward gear). It op­er­ates with the silk­i­ness of a freshly groomed Per­sian and prob­a­bly shifts quicker than hu­manly pos­si­ble. That didn’t keep us from play­ing with the pad­dleshifts, though. You’ll want to keep the revs build­ing (the en­gine peaks be­tween

5,500 to 6,500rpm) be­fore up­shift­ing man­u­ally if you can hear the R’s in­tox­i­cat­ing blow-offs and bur­bles.

Be care­ful not to overdo it, though. Af­ter too many at­tempts, the ex­haust the­atrics can be­come a bit pre­dictable and repet­i­tive. You’d prob­a­bly be get­ting a few cold stares then too. Di­alling things down to Nor­mal with the gear lever stuck in S – this sharp­ens the pow­er­train without af­fect­ing DCC (Adap­tive Chas­sis Con­trol) set­tings – tones down the gim­micks and lets the driver en­joy the car’s dy­namic tal­ents in much more com­fort. It al­most feels like a GTI in this con­fig­u­ra­tion, so you’re re­ally get­ting three rounds of Golf in a sin­gle pack­age here.

Should you choose to re­vert to TSI-like driv­ing con­di­tions, you’ll be happy to know the Golf R is one of the most prac­ti­cal cars in its class for the daily grind. You get the func­tional di­men­sions of a reg­u­lar Golf paired to a pow­er­train and adap­tive dampers that know how to be smooth and civil when nec­es­sary. Our only is­sue with driv­ing the R into the heart of traf­fic are its brakes, which can get a bit bitey. There is a fine line sep­a­rat­ing too lit­tle brakes from too much with the R’s mas­sive ro­tors, but you should be able to find it with enough time be­hind the wheel.

The Golf R’s wealth of tech and crea­ture com­fort is also best ex­pe­ri­enced at a tamer pace. In­side, it packs a new 12.3-inch touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, which is glo­ri­ous. Mo­bile phone con­nec­tiv­ity is seam­less too. Even the in­stru­ment clus­ter is dig­i­tal like that of the Pas­sat High­line and Audi mod­els higher up the food chain, which is nice. Our only gripe here is the pix­e­lated re­verse cam­era feed, if we were nit­pick­ing. The afore­men­tioned gad­getry does set the bar pretty high af­ter all.

For a car cost­ing less than RM300k to be able to take its driver through a wide range of driv­ing sen­sa­tions – from a calm and com­fort­able coast to a spir­ited high speed run – with such deft­ness is quite a feat. This do-it-all gift was al­ready preva­lent in the Mk7 Golf R but is more ap­par­ent in the Mk7.5, which comes out feel­ing like a more cul­tured all-rounder in the end.

What­ever kind of jour­ney you choose to take in the R, you’ll hear the fans un­der the hood run­ning at full blast when you even­tu­ally kill the ig­ni­tion. It may sound like an in­duc­tion cooker, but we take this as Volk­swa­gen’s re­minder of the Golf R be­ing one hot, hot hatch.

Make sure you don’t get burned.

Seven-speed DSG is of the more re­li­ablewet clutch va­ri­ety“The Golf R can com­pletely switch off and be­have like a1.4 TSI on de­mand”

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