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2015 VW Golf R review

Murray Hubbard road tests and reviews the new VW Golf R with specs, fuel economy and verdict.

Volkswagen Golf R 4.5

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This is serious stuff. As fast as a Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) Clubsport R8 which boasts a hot 6.2 litre V8. It is VW's quickest and safest Golf ever.

 

ENGINE / TRANSMISSION

At the heart of the straight-line performance is a 206 kW high-performance variant of the four-cylinder, 1984 cc engine that powers a host of VW and Audi cars and SUVs. The new Golf R arrives with more innovative technology, a higher level of equipment and major upgrading of the 162 kW engine that powers the Golf GTI.

Major modifications or redesigns to the engine included the cylinder head along with exhaust valves, valve seats and springs, pistons, high-pressure injection valves as well as the turbo-charger. Volkswagen state the development of this engine was similar that of producing a race engine. Golf R comes with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic. Volkswagen has further refined Golf R to improve its handling on technically difficult corners at speed.

When driven at low load the Golf R is usually in front wheel drive mode, to save on fuel. The new Golf R is 18 per cent more fuel efficient than the outgoing model, with a combined fuel consumption of 7.3 litres per 100 kilometres compared to 8.7 L/100 km. The DSG variant reduces this to 7.1 L/100 km, down from 8.7L /100 km.

PRICE / FEATURES

Golf R hits VW showrooms at $53,990 (before on roads) with the DSG auto. For those who like to do their own shifting the six-speed manual is $51,990.

To distinguish the Golf R from other Golf models there are a number of visual changes. The wing mirrors are matte chrome while the alloys are 19 inch "Cadiz" wheels with 235/35 R19 tyres adding to the R's tough exterior appearance.

The Golf R sits 20mm lower than the previous model. At the rear the Golf R now has four chrome tail pipes, hinting this not your average Golf. The fabric/Alcantara mix sports seats are customised with R badging and the pedals are finished in brushed aluminium.

Golf R is fitted with four Electronic Differential Locks integrated into the ESP, acting as transverse locks. Golf R drivers now have the ability to choose what chassis settings they like for particular circumstances. There are five programs from which to select: Eco, Normal, Individual, Comfort and Race.

These take the driver through what best suits: from Eco for fuel saving and a soft driving experience, through to race which would be best used on track days. In Race mode the R's damping is increased and engine response and shift points (on the optional DSG) become even more pronounced.

Track day fans will also appreciate the ESP Sport function. A switch on the centre console has two stages: one quick press and ESP Sport mode is engaged. This delays ESP intervention allowing the driver to push the car harder on a race track enabling the driver to enjoy the car's substantial handling ability.

When the switch is pressed for more than three seconds the ESP is disengaged for professional driving on a race track. This is not for novices and only available on the Golf R within the Golf stable of cars.

DRIVING

Several hours at the wheel of Golf R left us wanting more time to experience the V8-like growl that explodes into the cabin from the relatively diminutive 1984 cc turbocharged engine in 'sport' mode and the right boot flat to the floor. More time to take in the razor-like DSG gear swaps and more time to lap up the go-kart like handling as we tackled the famous Black Spur near Healesville.

The six-speed manual variant, which was not available at launch, takes 5.2 seconds for the 0-100 km/h sprint. With DSG shifter this is the fastest Golf R ever and the fourth generation of the revered AWD model.

It takes just a fraction of a second for the Golf R to respond to harder driving with the Haldex coupling activated. Golf R is fitted with a system called XDL as part of the electronic differentials at the front and rear axles.

Under harsh cornering the XDL system via the Electronic Stability Program brakes the inside wheels – meaning the outside wheels are turning faster. This gives the R a more neutral steering and the ability to take corners minimising understeer – the car's natural tendency to go straight while the driver wants to turn the corner.

VERDICT

It may have been last to arrive in the roll-out of the new Golf range, but the new Volkswagen Golf R will be worth waiting for.

 

2014 Volkswagen Golf R
Price: $51,990 – manual/$54,490 – DSG auto
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo four; 206kW/380Nm
Transmission: six-speed manual or DSG dual clutch auto
Thirst: 7.1L/100km – DSG/7.3L/100km - manual

RIVALS 

Audi S3 - see other verdicts

Price: from $59,900

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo, 206kW/380Nm

Transmission: 6-speed twin-clutch auto, 4WD

Thirst: 6.9L/100km

BMW M135i - see other verdicts

Price: from $64,900

Engine: 3.0-litre 6-cylinder turbo, 235kW/450Nm

Transmission: 8-speed auto, RWD

Thirst: 7.5L/100km

Mercedes A45 AMG - see other verdicts

Price: from $74,900

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo, 265kW/450Nm

Transmission: 7-speed twin-clutch auto, 4WD

Thirst: 6.9L/100km

 

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