Volkswagen launches its racier new Golfs
New R and GTD are the new petrol and diesel flagships
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Unlike the GTI, however, an Active Info Display digital instrument cluster is included as standard equipment in the R, as is a panoramic sunroof and five-way drive mode selector for Eco, Comfort, Normal, Race and Individual settings.
Even more noteworthy still, is that power’s been bumped up to 213kW from 206, while torque is unchanged at 380Nm. Yes, we still get a slightly detuned version of the R’s 2-litre turbo (it’s 228kW in Europe), but it’s certainly not short of performance with claimed 0-100km/h times of 4.6 seconds - down from 5.0 secs in the outgoing model.
I tried a launch-control start on a deserted side road near Hermanus at the Golf R’s media launch last week, and with all-wheel drive traction there’s enough shunt off the line to snap your head briskly into the headrest.
It’s without a doubt one of the fastest four-cylinder hatches in our market, though its Audi S3 Sportback cousin still pips it in total output with a full 228kW. But we’ll find out for sure when we give it a proper performance test in coming months.
Interestingly, at R647 300 the Golf R is 1300 bucks more expensive than the S3, but the Audi doesn’t come standard with virtual cockpit or a panoramic roof.
The new 130kW GTD can technically be considered a hot hatch, though with turbodiesel power it’d be foolish to expect performance comparable with Golf GTIs or Rs.
Its styling, which mimics the GTI to a tee (barring some red grille flashes) makes a statement its claimed 0-100km/h figure of 7.4 seconds can’t quite live up to. But the GTD is less about drag racing and more about fastpace cruisability with a full 350Nm available at just 1500rpm.
Drive is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed DSG gearbox (the same as GTI), and along a damp route from Gordon’s Bay to Betty’s Bay it grappled for traction if throttle was applied too early in a sweeping bend. It’s a torquey beast, and in-gear acceleration is deceptive because it picks up speed from relatively low revs. I was able to hum along at 120km/h in sixth gear at only 1100rpm.
Think of it as the ideal grand-touring Golf with an ability to hastily chomp distance while still offering some thrills in corners. Besides the engine, the GTD shares mechanical components, including its suspension and electronic differential, with the petrol-powered GTI so great handling attributes go without saying. And, it’s lighter on fuel, though matching VW’s 5.3 litres per 100km claim in real world conditions will be difficult.
The GTD also shares its standard equipment list and options with the GTI 7.5, but costs al- most R40 000 less in base form. PRICES: Golf R - R647 300 Golf GTD - R506 700
A cruise missile with great fuel economy, the GTD is the most powerful diesel Golf yet.