Volk­swa­gen launches its racier new Golfs

New R and GTD are the new petrol and diesel flag­ships

The Star Early Edition - - NEW MODELS -

From Page 1

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.

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