Volkswagen Golf R Wagon 2015 review
John Carey reviews the Volkswagen Golf R Wagon at its international launch in Spain.
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This is a big call – but there’s not a single car on the planet more famous than the Ford Mustang. It is the Brad Pitt of transportation and it enjoys that status for the same reason Mr Pitt does too – Hollywood. Oh that and they’re both very good at what they do. Now while many will be disappointed to hear that Brad Pitt is not going on sale in Australia, Ford is hoping you’ll be happy to hear that after a long absence from these shores the Mustang is now back in Australian showrooms...
The Mustang has arrived in the nick of time because with Ford axing the Falcon in 2016 it would have left it without a big, burly performance car - a must-have for the company with legions of devoted V8 fans.
This sixth-generation Mustang is indeed big and burly like a muscle car should be and it comes with a V8, but also a surprisingly potent four cylinder. That’s because Ford wants this to be a car that appeals not just to me (I have a Ford V8 tattoo on my arm – yes, seriously) but to a wider audience that still wants a high output engine but without the V8 fuel bill.
That four cylinder has impressive grunt, it’s a 2.3-litre turbo-petrol engine producing 233kW and 432Nm, and it comes with the base EcoBoost trim-level. If somebody tries to give you grief at a barbecue or CrossFit class for buying the EcoBoost Mustang and not the V8 then stab them in the eye with this fact – this four cylinder is more powerful than the V8 Commodore or Falcon they bought new in 2004. Take that boofhead.
Would a kid put a picture of this car on their bedroom wall? Yes, absolutely.
The EcoBoost lists at a very decent $45,990 with a manual gearbox in the Fastback bodystyle (the one with the metal roof). If you want the convertible EcoBoost then you’ll pay $54,990 and it only comes with an auto.
Buyers who want the V8 need to step up into the GT spec. The V8 makes meaty 306kW and 530Nm. The Fastback with a manual gearbox is $57,490 and the convertible with its auto-only transmission is $66,490.
You can also get the GT Fastback and EcoBoost Fastback with an auto for an extra $2500.
The GT and Ecoboost are almost identical – the only difference (apart from the engine, obviously) is that the GT gets bigger brakes, wider rear wheels and tyres for better grip and stopping power. The GT has also scored some clever engineering to channel air through the front bumper vent to cool the brakes. Some cars have these vents just for looks, not in the case of the GT.
As we rolled through Sydney’s lunchtime traffic in our GT convertible in radioactive yellow (not actual colour) it gave us time to wriggle around in the seats, open and close glovebox doors and knock on the dashboard and door trims like a door-to-door salesman. Our findings? The seats are great – comfortable and supportive, the retro dash (a nod to earlier Mustangs) with its alumimunim panel and the leather stitching is beautiful, the hard plastics below it on the centre console are not – they’re cheap feeling. The cheap feel of the prosciutto-thin leather on the steering wheel is also disappointing.
That’s not to say the interior skims on equipment, everything you need is there – eight-inch screen, satnav, auto headlights, plus heated and cooled seats. What is missing though is a digital speedo.
As we took the expressway north we found that with the roof up the cabin was incredibly quiet – a great job done here by Ford. Then as we turned off and headed through the bush on backroads we passed a family unloading picnic things from their SUV and it happened - one of the kids waved at us and it hit me. That’s the true test of whether Ford’s design department has hit the mark. Would a kid put a picture of this car on their bedroom wall? Yes, absolutely. Sure there’s cheap plastic going on, but the appeal of this car is not about plush interiors – with a muscle car the good looks are on the outside – inside is for driving.
Straight away we were blown away by the great growly sound of that engine and the power it smashed out.
And driving we did, swapping into the Fastback GT we chased the Mustang in front of us through forest-lined roads. The V8’s exhaust bellow is glorious. What’s so great is that unlike some other V8s which behave like a savage dog on the end of a lead which could bite you at any second, the inherent refinement of this engine will give anybody confidence drive it anywhere, any time.
Handling is superb, sure it’s not going to out corner a Porsche, but the over-engineered independent rear suspension helps it to be smooth over bumps and hold the car safely and firmly in twists and turns. Those brakes aren’t too shabby either and the wide tyres grip like King Kong.
We pulled over and swapped into the Mustang that we’d been chasing and found it was the EcoBoost. Straight away we were blown away by the great growly sound of that engine and the power it smashed out – amazing for a four in such a big car. It’s a slightly different beast and with a turbo the key is to change up gears earlier to keep the power flowing strong. Again – great handling and ride with the same spot-on steering as the V8.
The sixth-generation Mustang is a real Mustang - it has the Hollywood looks, engines and performance to match the star appeal. The GT Fastback is the pick for me – but that decision was made years ago, straight after seeing Bullitt. But the four cylinder also puts up a hell of a fight.
|2.3 GTDi||2.3L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$36,990 – 47,990||2016 Ford Mustang 2016 2.3 GTDi Pricing and Specs|
|GT 5.0 V8||5.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$43,975 – 48,850||2016 Ford Mustang 2016 GT 5.0 V8 Pricing and Specs|
|Fastback 2.3 GTDI||2.3L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$34,990 – 42,990||2016 Ford Mustang 2016 Fastback 2.3 GTDI Pricing and Specs|
|Fastback GT 5.0 V8||5.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$37,750 – 49,990||2016 Ford Mustang 2016 Fastback GT 5.0 V8 Pricing and Specs|