By on December 7, 2012

Take the iconic Volkswagen GTI. Add a larger turbo to the 2.0-liter engine to bump the official horsepower rating from 200 to 256. Add all-wheel-drive to mitigate torque steer. The resulting Golf R ought to be hot hatch nirvana. Jack Baruth found something else. But he drove a Euro-spec car. Perhaps VW performed some beneficial tweaks with the Americanized version?

The GTI looks too wild for your tastes? You should find the Golf R more suitable. Outside, the GTI’s red grille trim, red calipers, and highly-styled rims have been replaced by much more subtle bits. The R does have larger lower front fascia openings, side skirts, and a centrally-located dual exhaust, but these are sufficiently restrained that only the VW cognoscenti will likely notice them. (When they do you’ll get a thumbs-up.) The rest of the population will see just another GTI, if they notice the Golf R at all. If you’ve been inside a GTI with the Autobahn Package’s black leather interior, you’ve essentially been inside this car. The taste police simply replaced the GTI’s red instrument needles and stitching with blue and white, respectively. It’s as if they wanted others to see a regular Golf, which might (together with the possibility of a lawsuit) explain why the nameplate reads “Golf R” rather than “GTI-R.” Do sleepers excite you, or put you to sleep?

Interior functionality is identical to the GTI. Compared to a Focus ST, room for elbows and knees seems more abundant and the car feels larger. The front seats provide good lateral support and comfort—with one possible exception. I couldn’t adjust the power four-way lumbar support so it did less harm than good with my particular lower back. Opt for the four-door, and the seats lose the power four-way lumbar (in favor of manual two-way) but gain power recline. With either body style the seats have a single manual height adjustment, so there’s no way to separately adjust their tilt. R-exclusive amenities are limited to headlight washers and dual-zone automatic climate control. Automatic headlights are not available. Keyless ignition is standard, but unlike with most such systems you must keep your finger on the button until the engine is spinning. (Even at the end of my week with the R I kept forgetting this.) Otherwise, ergonomics are quite good, with simple, easy to understand and operate controls.

Any sleeper worthy of the name combines invisible styling with strong performance. The Golf R has the former. Towards the latter, on paper the car has 56 more horsepower (256 @ 6,000 rpm vs. 207 @ 5,100 rpm) and 36 more pound-feet of torque (243 @ 2,400 rpm vs. 207 @ 1,700 rpm) than the regular 2.0T mill. In reality, the lesser engine outperforms its specs to such a degree that, if you remove traction off the line from the equation, the GTI gets to 60 about as quickly as the 291-pound-porkier Golf R (Car and Driver‘s 5-to-60 “street start” is seven seconds flat for both). As speed increases, the Golf R does gain strength, and once over 60 it would leave a GTI increasingly farther behind while sounding especially good for a four. At lower speeds its greater reliance on boost is readily evident. The mandatory six-speed manual’s shifter isn’t far removed from standard Wolfsburg issue, with longish throws, notchy engagements, and a touch of slop.

The Golf R’s more powerful engine, all-wheel-drive, and higher curb weight take a toll on fuel economy, reducing the EPA ratings from 21 mpg city, 31 mpg highway to 19/27. The trip computer (which might or might not be accurate) reported 26 mpg with a light foot in suburban driving, and low 20s with a heavier foot.

Throw the Golf R through some curves, and its reason for being becomes even harder to discern. The stability control cannot be defeated, or even dialed back. Combine this with the all-wheel-drive system, and the chassis is stable to a fault, going where you want it to but not interested in any dancing. The only available, decidedly non-Autobahn tires, H-rated all-seasons, don’t feel sharp or grippy. Little of what they communicate survives the trip through the electrically-assisted steering system to an overly large flat-bottomed wheel. (The high effort criticized by Jack in the Euro-spec car appears to have been Americanized away.)

Virtually nothing about how the Golf R drives suggests a special performance variant. The edginess and immediacy of an Evo is absent. On the flip side, the Golf R’s ride is far smoother and quieter than the Mitsubishi’s. But a Focus ST is much more fun to drive than the uber-Golf while being nearly as civilized.

For die-hard fans of the brand, the Golf R’s $5,495 premium over a leather-trimmed GTI seems well worth it. Overlooking that feature differences aside from the engine account for only about $2,300 of this difference (according to TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool), said GTI is already quite pricey for a compact car without a fancy label. So the Golf R starts at $34,785 (up $25 from the tested 2012). Add $600 for a second pair of doors (not on the tested car). Add $1,500 for sunroof and nav. Start thinking of what else you could get for nearly $37,000.

At this price, all but the truest VW fans will want more striking styling, quicker acceleration, more engaging handling or more extensive amenities—perhaps even all of the above—than the Golf R offers. It’s not necessary to go crazy with the styling or the tuning; taken too far, these also limit the appeal of a car. The broader Volkswagen group knows how to pair an exhilarating driving experience with tasteful styling and a high degree of livability. Among similarly configured cars, they did it with the Audi TT RS. They just didn’t do it here. Maybe in Europe the Golf R somehow makes sense. For enthusiasts playing the field on this side of the Atlantic, they didn’t tweak it enough.

[Note: Some very insightful comments from Charlie84 below point out that 1) the Golf R's engine is far more solidly built than it needs to be for 256 horsepower, 2) it's easy to modify this engine to produce over 300 wheel horsepower (so about 350 at the crank), and 3) the car is far more fun once this is done. This implies that VW intended for owners to modify the car. So why not just provide more power stock? Some possible reasons: 1) durability (of driveline components if not the engine itself), 2) fuel economy, or 3) marketing, as a more powerful car might be seen as treading on Audi's turf.]

Volkswagen provided an insured vehicle with a tank of gas.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online source of car reliability and pricing information.

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134 Comments on “Review: 2012 Volkswagen Golf R (US-spec)...”


  • avatar
    Larry P2

    256 horsepower, I quickly looked to make sure the article wasn’t written in 1984 or 1985. When I saw the sticker of $37,000, I checked to make sure this article wasn’t published on April 1.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      Huh. Which 256 horsepower 2 liter engine from 1985 were you thinking of?

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        What 256 horsepower Ford Windsor 5.0 V8 from 1985 were you thinking of, for that matter? Mine had a lot fewer horsepower than that.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Micheal Karesh manages to slip in some praise of Ford (again) while reviewing this ridiculously overpriced, bloated, fwd hatchback VW, and the irony is that this is what Ford is ostensibly aiming for, Titanium pricing and all (the Focus can get close properly optioned).

        Insanity.

      • 0 avatar
        thebanker

        @ DeadWeight – It’s not a FWD, it’s AWD, hence the 290lbs on the GTI.

        I like the car but at $34k this should be an STI/Evo contender. Sadly it’s not.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        @the banker:

        AWD. I stand corrected. That has been the defining characteristic of the R-seris VW.

        Isn’t this essentially a hatchback Audi?

        I realize most Audis are up-marketed VWs, but isn’t this even more true of this vehicle??

        Who buys these, anyways? I’d imagine the only people buying them are those with some weird fetish, VAG employees or, and I do not mean to offend but there’s no polite way to say this, imbeciles.

        For 5k less you can get into a well equipped Mustang GT. For 5k more you can get into a smorgasbord of better vehicles.

        For 10k less you can get into a smorgasbord of better vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      tatracitroensaab

      All of these hot hatches don’t have that impressive hp numbers; by they don’t need to because they’re usually smaller and lighter. Yeah the price tag is a little whack

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    That’s a pretty cool $25,000 car…..

  • avatar
    kars

    the golf R lists at $39675 in canada representing very poor value, yet they sold every one of them last year – no wonder vw makes such huge profits and who can blame the for that

  • avatar

    In reality – they tend to go in the 32,500 range (still priced to high IMO).

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    $37,000?!?!?!?!

    That will get you a Premium Plus Audi A4 Quattro with the 2.0 turbo. Sure the engine is only 211 HP but has more torque and still offers a 130 MPH top speed. Given the R-Spec is shod with H rated tires in the above review, it has to be computer limited to 130 at the max.

    I’m not a buy by brand guy, but if I was in a VW/Porsche/Audi dealer with $37K burning a hole in my pocket, I’m not looking at any VWs

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      For what it’s worth if you buy the Audi, VW still gets paid. :) Although I do agree with your point.

    • 0 avatar
      Charlie84

      “That will get you a Premium Plus Audi A4 Quattro with the 2.0 turbo.”

      And it will be completely boring to drive. It’s basically an German Camry with AWD and high maintenance requirements.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        High maintenance requirements that Audi covers for the first 4 years and 50K miles. The way I drive, I hit 4 years before the 50K. VW sure isn’t exactly a sweetheart when it comes to reliability either – and that wasn’t the discussion point. Further, in the review above, I didn’t get the impression that the VW was errr, exciting, and an Audi A4 is more exciting than a Camry. For the love of God man, an ’85 Ford Escort with a 5-speed is more exciting than a new Camry.

        $37K for a tarted up VW with middling performance improvements over the cheaper GTI is – whack.

        It’s like adding a NISMO package to a 370Z – sure it’s cool but run it through the paces the NISMO package got you absolutely – nothing extra in the performance department.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Clearly you haven’t driven an A4 if you’re calling it equivalent to a Camry in terms of boringness.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Waingrow

        You know, Charlie, you’re pretty much right, though it’d be a quite nice Camry. My 2009 A4 was basically boring. I’m having much more pleasure with my 2012 Golf TDI, which has a no-fuss kick of torque and really nice balance of ride, handling and steering feel that makes it reasonably entertaining. Once the thrill of the four rings subsides, you look at things a bit more realistically. And 42 mpg and 650 mile range is a nice little bonus.

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      According to the VW site, the intro R lists for 34 large. A 2 door with nav/sunroof is 35.5K, list. Not sure where the 37 is coming from. In my neck of the woods, you can’t buy a Premium Plus A4 with nav for under 40K list.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Base price of an A4 Premium Plus is $37.6K for manual and $38.8K for 8-speed auto, for reference. I think Nav is another $3K almost.

        A VW R base is 34K, with nav/sunroof is 35.5K, as mpresley said. 4-door is 600 more, as the article said, so $34.6K and $36.1K. If you add destination, you might get 37K. VW destination is $795, and Audi is $895.

      • 0 avatar

        There’s no “if” in destination. It’s the least negotiable part of the car’s price, as there’s zero dealer margin in it. So why anyone (aside from the manufacturer or dealer) knowingly looks at or quotes a price that doesn’t include destination escapes me. 35500+600+800 = 36900.

        I add $600 for the four-door because for me personally the two-door makes little sense. The Golf isn’t such a great-looking car that adding a pair of doors ruins its beauty. In fact, a primary reason to get a hot hatch instead of a sports car is the additional functionality, so why then limit this functionality by not having doors for the back seat?

        I also ran an A4 – Golf R price comparison with Premium Plus, Sport Interior, and proximity key on the Audi to bring it about even with the Golf R’s standard content. The Audi ends up about $4,400 higher before adjusting for feature differences, and about $2,800 higher afterwards. So a bit of a jump for a car with less power.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        I agree there’s no “if” in destination — it is what it is, and there’s no point in considering car prices without it.

        But what I said is still true — if you get a 2-door without nav/sunroof, you get roughly 35K, not 37K. But if you get a 4-door with nav/sunroof, you’ll hit 37K, as the article said.

        I wasn’t disputing the article so much as correcting mpresley, Michael.

        (responding to your edit) I’m not surprised the A4 similarly equipped is $2800 more — that’s what I would have expected. Of course, it probably won’t make the curmudgeons wanting roll-up windows and hose-out interiors happy, c’est la vie.

      • 0 avatar
        NattyBumpo

        Yeah, I checked my Audi salesman last week and he said the lowest price for the 2013 A4 Quattro was $44,000. Not even sure you can get it in a stick; probably only an automatic.

  • avatar
    Charlie84

    I’ll be the guy that makes a case for the car based not on what it is, but what it could be:

    Throw a couple grand in mods at this thing and you have a nearly-400 horsepower beast with the practicality of a Golf, a more serious factory-tuned suspension and brake setup than the GTI, and the civility of an Audi. And the AWD means all that power isn’t going to waste. It will slingshot you out of corners rather than simply reduce the inside front tire to smoke.

    Also, the VW forum nerds just recently figured out how to defeat the ESP.

    • 0 avatar
      CoastieLenn

      That’s a good point… if the car were commanding a $30,000 price tag over a $25k GTI, but it does nothing to justify that you have to spend (at least) $37,000 + “a couple grand in mods” (read: probably in the realm of $5k) to make 400hp. Congrats. You’re now looking at lightly used S4/RS4 money for a GTI with AWD.

      VW has really lost sight of the “people’s car” image. Let Audi command that kind of money for the “premium” brand logo and finishings… keep the VW’s as the low cost alternatives. There’s no reason for a nearly $40k small econo-hatch. None at all.

      • 0 avatar
        Charlie84

        See, it’s funny that you say that. Because the guy I know that drives a 400 horsepower Golf R DID look mainly at the S4 as an alternative. After driving both, we decided that they’re different animals. If you want a junior M5, the S4 is an amazing car (and, strangely, a great value). But if you want tossable handling, there’s no comparison: the Golf R is it.

        Is it a narrow sub-section of buyers that want an luxurious, powerful AWD hatchback enough to pay $35K for it? Yes, undoubtedly.

        Btw, a loaded GTI can easily sticker for $32K. Golf Rs come loaded. In my book, $3-4K is a good price for AWD, K04 turbo, suspension, brakes, body work, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        CoastieLenn

        I see your point about the small target demograhic- hence the small production numbers.

        One thing I will say is… ask the Mazdaspeed6 guys how the K04 worked out for them. There’s a TON of people that have had to replace them and are searching for a mainstream alternative. (I’m a Mazda6 owner myself.)

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks, Charlie. Good to hear that there’s little wrong with the car another 150 horsepower won’t fix! In my head horsepower matters much less to me than handling. But sometimes adding power transforms a car’s handling. This could well be such a case.

        I do wonder how the suspension tuning differs from the GTI’s. I haven’t driven a GTI in a while, but don’t recall it feeling significantly less firm.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        “VW has really lost sight of the “people’s car” image.”

        That’s just the thing, though.

        VW is selling in larger volume in the U.S. now because they’re doing cheap, for real, finally.

        The Passat 2.5, Jetta 2.0, etc. – they come close to their Japanese and American competitors in terms of price, and in the case of both, are super-sized (sit in the back of a Passat; limo like room)compared to many of those competitors.

        Sure, someone can go nuts with options on a Passat TDI and get close to 36k or so, but that’s the extreme case.

        Aside from the Tiguan (absolutely not competitive) & Golf R, VW is doing affordable again, and it’s working.

        The R is some sort of vestigial anomaly, maybe if only to serve as a reminder of VW’s past.

        By the way, I owned a 2006 Passat with the 2.0T, and even though it only managed slightly more than 200 horsepower, if it hadn’t burned a quart of synthetic oil every 800 to 1,000 miles literally from the date it was purchased, which the VW dealer and VW HQ both told be was “within spec,” and if it hadn’t been prone to various breakdowns I’ve never experienced with any vehicles since the mid-80s, I would have said it was a decent car, and I paid 25.5k for it with faux leather seating.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      That’s great for the second owner (who tend to be the ones who actually do the modding, WRXs and Evos notwithstanding). They should be going for $20-25k by then.

      As first owners go, I doubt many people would want to buy their $35,000 just to drop another $7k on a big turbo kit, tuning and supporting mods.

      BTW, what turbo is the Golf R running? A K03 variant or K04? Anybody know?

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      A “couple grand”? No, try $5500-6000 plus labor if you don’t do the work yourself. How much does it cost to get a WRX to 400hp? Or just start with an STI because that is the price range you are at with the Golf R. No matter how you slice it, this is an expensive car for what you get.

      • 0 avatar
        Charlie84

        “No matter how you slice it, this is an expensive car for what you get.”

        Sure, it is. That’s why they only sell a couple thousand per year in North America. But some people can afford to buy exactly what they want. And if you want a VW R, it’s a horse of a completely different color than a WRX/Evo (let alone a Mustang GT). Different strokes and all that…

    • 0 avatar
      lukemo2

      I’ve driven and ridden in many a GTI/Golf, and the word “luxurious” never once crossed my mind…

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      There’s a reason why all tuner cars are 2d owner cars: the resale market for them is zero, and rightly so. So, no one in their right mind buys a brand-new car and then claps it up with a bunch of go-fast options. The purchaser of a tuner car is assuming 3 big risks: (1) the risk that the modifications were done correctly and therefore won’t fall apart, (2) the risk that the unmodified parts of the car (in this case, the entire AWD drivetrain, tranny and clutch or — gasp!- DSG) can stand up to the additional torque of the modified engine, and (3) that previous owner didn’t “ride it hard and put it away wet.”

      And, as a general rule, sophisticated electronics notwithstanding, the more you boost an engine above is naturally aspirated horsepower, the more likely you are to have driveability issues, such as turbo lag, in normal everyday driving.

      As JB said in his earlier review, the value proposition for this car is close to zero, in comparison to the GTI, not to mention the Focus ST (which was not on the market at the time of JB’s review). Out-the-door, the Focus is likely a bit cheaper, even with the Recaro package — the downsides to the Focus being an inferior back seat, no automatic and, possibly, no AWD.

      It’s funny how VW keeps trying to bring back the R32, but after a great first version, subsequent attempts to capture the magic, including this one, just fell flat.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Since this site’s software says I’m not authorized to edit my comment, let me add that the “magic” I was referring to was the first generation R32.

        Happily, the GTI had, and continues to have, the magic of the GTI, which is why the R doesn’t really improve on it.

      • 0 avatar
        LeeK

        Oh, I thought the second generation R32 was pretty sweet, as my wife had one as her daily driver and I had an Evo VIII for my daily duties. The decision by VW to offer the 2008 R32 with DSG only alienated enthusiasts to be sure, but those willing to look past that apparently unforgivable sin were treated to a very solid, reasonably quick all-wheel drive car with great composure and driver involvement. Driving the R32 reminded me of my friend’s E36 M3 — roughly the same horsepower and the same feeling of being securely planted to the road at all times. As an added plus the VR6 exhaust note was particularly pleasing. Jumping from the frenetic Evo to the refined R32 was a real contrast in how different approaches to performance can still be very satisfying to the driver. I really liked that R32. Alas, it ended up having chronic problems with the emissions control system (all US R32s were recalled for this issue) and we dumped it after seven unsuccessful trips to the dealer for repair.

        Yeah, I know. The joys of owning a Volkswagen…

    • 0 avatar
      Charlie84

      Michael,

      Thank you for another well-written review.

      I guess I find myself defending this car, despite not owning one, because I’ve experienced how fun it can be with just a smattering of bolt-on mods. Clearly, the K04 turbo is under-utilized in the stock tune. One wonders if VW intended all along for the fanboys to buy these cars and crank up the boost. The fact that the Golf R comes with an iron block w/ unique, reinforced internals would support this notion. So I think this car was basically made to be tuned. Otherwise, VW could have achieved similar stock numbers with their standard K03 2.0T motor.

      In answer to your question about the suspension tuning versus the GTI, I can tell you that it feels much more buttoned-down. Also, the extra weight actually makes it ride *better* than a GTI. I suppose the downside is that it does not feel as light on it’s feet as a GTI.

      Lastly, you would be AMAZED at what a little extra power does for this car. Stage 1 tunes with no bolt-ons are generally good for over 300 horsepower (crank). And, as you add more power, the Haldex AWD sends more of it rear-ward.

      People just don’t get this car –but that’s okay, as it’s meant for a very specific niche. I agree with the suggestion that this car isn’t worth $34K-$37K if you intend to leave it stock. If you want to tinker, however, that extra power combined with decent tires takes it from “expensive GTI” to “junior Carrera 4″. The Golf R forums seem to have a lot of well-moneyed guys who bought their Golf R as a second or third car to drive daily and tune…in addendum to their M3/Porsche/track car/etc.

      Oh, and here’s how to disable ESP:
      http://www.goapr.com/support/esp-defeat.html

      • 0 avatar

        Excellent point on the engine. Are they concerned about durability with more boost–or the marketing implications of treading on Audi turf?

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Your original post said “400hp”, not 300hp. 300hp is easily attainable with small mods, just as 250hp is easily attainable with a regular GTI. The difference is a regular GTI is $23k, not $37k. That price simply puts it in a totally different class, regardless of what VW intended it for. This engine with the K04 is just a detuned version of the use used in the Audi, which is why its down a bit in power but also why it uses a fortified block. Also, I think the reason it feels more buttoned down has more to do with the extra 300lbs and the AWD than it does with the actual suspension.

        I get the car, hell I love my GTI, and I still haven’t found a better car for the money that does everything it does for me. I want to love the R, but I can’t because the price is just astronomical for what you get. If you buy a $37k Golf R and then spend another $5k “tinkering” with it, you end up with a $42k VW, not a Junior Carrera 4. For $42k there are way better daily drivers to go with your M3/911/etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Charlie84

        Michael, I’m not sure if it’s durability, marketing, or keeping down insurance rates. Partially, it must be marketing because in Europe the Golf R is marketed as making 270 bhp. In the United States, VW claims to have detuned it to 256 bhp for our different climate. However, all the aftermarket tuners with access to both European and North American ECUs say that they can’t find any difference in the tune. Ergo, all stock Golf Rs produce 270 bhp. Perhaps Audi didn’t like the cheaper Golf R stepping on the toes of the TTS.

        In the rest of the world, Stage 2+ Golf Rs with DSG transmissions are seeing instrument-measured 0-60 times of just under 4 seconds.

        Durability shouldn’t be much of a concern. I know the stock clutch in the manual can’t take huge amounts of torque. Stage 2+ will result in the occasional slip. Surprisingly, the DSG transmissions can take a LOT. The beefed-up Golf R 2.0T includes (stolen from wikipedia):

        Lower compression forged pistons
        Strengthened connecting rods
        Enlarged wrist pins
        Stronger piston rings
        Upgraded bearings
        Reinforced engine block
        Upgraded camshafts (longer duration)
        Upgraded injectors (+13% flow)
        Larger K04 turbo producing 1.2 bar of boost (+3 PSI over K03 equipped GTI)
        Larger intercooler (+30%)
        Relocated bypass valve

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Not sure which tuner you are referring to with Stage 2+, but APR only shows a Stage 3 and Stage 3+ for the Golf R, at around $5500-6000, that gets you to about 400hp. Even at 400hp, you are claiming a 3400 lb car can hit 60 in UNDER 4 seconds, making it faster than a 911 Turbo??? Really?

        I think whoever is claiming that is embellishing a bit…

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Oh and I think that list of mods you have is the changes over the regular GTI engine. IIRC all the VAG products that use the K04 get the same changes, the engine is the same. The tuning and exhaust differs, which explains the difference in power. It was designed to be a pretty stout engine, no doubt, but it was designed for 300hp, and even the regular GTI is a stout design that has proven reliable even when modded.

      • 0 avatar
        Charlie84

        @mnm4ever:

        300+ bhp would be Stage 1 tunes from most tuners. I believe APR lists their Stage 1 as 306 bhp (crank). Stage 1+ w/ intake and a modded fuel pump gets you to a claimed 335 bhp.

        I could not find a claimed horsepower figure on their website for Stage 2+, but I have personally seen a Stage 2+ Golf R dyno at 327 wheel horsepower. It did so three times in a row. If you factor in a (conservative) 20% drivetrain loss, that comes to approx 392 crank hp. I’d say he has a few grand into it–definitely not the “$5K” you inferred based on nothing. But, it’s irrelevant. If you want a car with it’s totally unique feature-set and can afford it, you’ll enjoy the heck out of it. If not…

        As for the 0-60 figures, a cursory Google brought me this thread showing plenty of low-4-second times based only on Stage 1 tunes (Yes, I know many of them are DSG…which was just what I referenced in my earlier comment, though I was talking about Stage 2+ tunes): http://www.golfmk6.com/forums/showthread.php?t=45541

        Fact is, 0 to 60 is just not a very impressive metric anymore. Quarter-mile times are much more indicative of a car’s speed potential. A 911 Turbo would likely destroy even a well-tuned Golf R in this metric.

        There are not a ton of $23K GTIs available new. One would probably have to order such a stripper. But, dealers are willing to haggle a bit on the Golf R. If you were looking at a maxed-out Autobahn package GTI and had the option to buy a Golf R instead, for only another grand…well, that’s a no-brainer to me. Hypotheticals aside, there are not a lot of new Golf Rs being sold for $37K, just as there are there are not a lot of GTIs being sold for $23K. In reality, the average transaction prices are closer together.

        If you don’t want to like the Golf R, that’s fine. Enjoy your GTI. It’s a great car. I have a GLI, which I enjoy, but the wheel-hop when if I floor it from a low speed is annoying. And I’ve done no engine mods whatsoever. The Golf R’s AWD is a killer app if you want to put down big power.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        My bad, after looking closer I found the Stage 1 tune for the R from APR and it is indeed 306hp, which is not unexpected, the Stage 1 basically is just an increase in boost which gets you around 50-60hp, even on the GTI. But my point was, 300hp is not 400hp, and to get to 400 takes a lot more than a boost increase and a lot more money. Stage 2+ is another $2k, which gets you to 330hp, and Stage 3 is yet another $3k+, which gets you to 400hp. All I am saying is that 400hp is not as easy to get as you implied. Also, the link you reference has one guy making a very fishy claim to that sub-4sec 0-60 times. I respectfully disagree that 0-60 is not an impressive metric. Maybe when looked at alone, compared to 280hp stock Camry’s , but to determine the additional performance mods give a car, it is very useful. The stock Golf R is around 5.8 seconds, to reduce that to under 4 seconds takes a LOT of work, and 306hp will not get you there, I sincerely doubt 400 would either, even with a DSG.

        Now I will be the first to admit that AWD is a huge advantage over the GTI. By far, the most limiting factor in my GTI performance is the limited traction, and the second problem is weight. The Golf R solves the traction issue, but adds another 300lbs to the car, which then requires even more power. The R is a very entertaining drive, no doubt, it feels quick, and its really nice to not have the traction issues. It is just expensive. If you like it, and don’t mind spending the money, then great. But the GTI gives you way more bang for the buck.

        Oh, and as for the price, it is very easy to find base GTI’s, you don’t have to custom order. If you load a GTI to the gills with every option, it ends up a tad over $30k. Do the same to the R and its a tad over $36k. Not $1000. There is no massive discounts yet on the R, although I know the R32 had some great deals because they didn’t sell either, and the R will probably be discounted too. I would never buy a loaded GTI either, I think $30k for that car is crazy. If you compare the base R at $33k to a GTI equipped the same except for leather, the GTI is $26k and change, thats a $5k difference. If you are one of those people that simply HAS to have leather, thats where the price gets tricky, as the leather on the GTI is only available with the top trim, that also includes Nav, which isnt included on the R. Still, there is a $3k price difference plus you don’t get the Nav. So where do you see a $1k difference??

        A hot hatch to me should be a bargain performance toy, and I do not like leather anyway, so I would rather save the money. Once I top $30k I would be getting a different kind of car anyway, my personal favorite is the Mustang GT. Oh, and to @SpeedSpaniel — my wife doesn’t have an advanced degree or wear glasses, she wears tight sweaters and has great jiggly boobs. And they are spectacular.

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      For DeadWeight,

      That warranty leeway of manufacturers using 800-1000 miles to a quart might be a industry-wide standard. When I worked with Acura, that was their standard, under which they did nothing for you. To be fair to Honda/Acura almost all late model cars did much better and most used significantly nothing between oil changes, but that’s no consolation to the owner of any new or nearly new car what is using a quart every 1000 miles.

      For what it’s worth, personally I wouldn’t want even a dealer tech to either rebuild or replace a block if literally the only thing I was uphappy with was that amount of oil consumption.

  • avatar
    dave504

    This might be the worst new car deal that money can buy. My local dealers have them for about $35k, with the usual VW dealer experience and legendary VW “reliability”, but the bigger insult is the level of decontenting and features lost during the trip to the US. No Recaros, LED tails, heated mirrors, rear foglights, smaller nav screen with fewer functions, etc. Once the fanboys have theirs, then VW will be selling the remainder at huge discounts much like the R32′s that went stale on dealer lots.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    Excellent, the Mini JCW finally has some competition in the $35k 4 cylinder compact car market.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      So the GTI is still the king of hot hatches, here in the US anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      I believe the only car that comes close the JCW in terms of outright handling is the Renault Clio III sport. The GTI has the JCW beat because it is easier to live with IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        I wasn’t being entirely serious…I think both cars are way overpriced, although the Mini at least has some niche appeal thanks to its go kart driving experience. The VW is priced right in the heart of CPO BMW territory, or right on top of a new 128i if you don’t need the extra space of a 3 series.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Two very different mindsets; but shouldn’t you also check out the Mustang/Camaro/Charger if you’re seeking a go fast ride for 37k? Not meant to offend the GTI/R cognoscenti. It is 37k and there are other options.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      True… But, they are not compact hatchbacks.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Agreed, but El Scotto is right. The appeal of a compact hatch is performance and value, at $37k the value is gone. Unless you simply want the ultimate GTI at any cost, this car will be cross-shopped with not only the Mustang GT and Camaro SS, but also the 370Z, the G37, Gen coupe, CPO Audi and BMW, etc. And the STI is right there if you simply have to have a compact AWD turbo hatchback.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Not only performance and value, but also compactness. My wife would consider a Golf R (or GTI), a Mini JCW or a Focus ST — but she wouldn’t even want to sit in a Mustang, Challenger or Camaro. Those cars are simply HUGE compared to the Golf and it competitors.

        And I’ll ignore used vs new, as it’s always easy to find a used car that is better value.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      I doubt there’s a lot of people cross shopping the Golf R and the Charger. Might as well cross shop the Grand Caravan R/T.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “I doubt there’s a lot of people cross shopping the Golf R and the Charger.”

        If they aren’t, they should be.

      • 0 avatar
        Jellodyne

        It may be fast, but compared to a Golf the Charger is a giant boatlike thing. I know you’re having trouble seeing why big, heavy and comfortable could ever be a bad thing, but you’re going to have to trust me, the people buying hot hatch are not looking for a great big 4100lb beast.

        GTI 3113 lbs
        Gulf R 3325 lbs
        ——–huge chasm———
        Dodge Charger 4160 lbs
        Grand Caravan R/T 4510 lbs

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        FWIW, I think he meant Challenger, not Charger. But I still left that off my list, I think you are right, its still a tad big. But I still think people would cross shop the Mustang and the imports I listed.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Updating Jellodyne’s list with the Challenger:

        GTI 3113 lbs
        Golf R 3325 lbs
        ——–huge chasm———
        Dodge Challenger 4152 lbs
        Dodge Charger 4160 lbs
        Grand Caravan R/T 4510 lbs

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      I’d drive a Golf (just not this one). None of the Camaro/Mustang/Chrysler LX cars interest me at all. Too big, too clumsy, no hatch, can’t see out of them. Just as no one in the market for a Camaro would ever consider a Golf under any circumstances … the reverse is equally true.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Nice review. I prefer the GTI because it’s lighter, cheaper, and can be had with those cheeky tartan cloth seats.

    Question: Has/will TTAC gotten/get their hands on the new Lincoln Motor Company MKZ?

  • avatar
    rickyc

    I love the GTI especially since once can be had for around $24k, but $37k for a GTI with awd is waaay too steep. Once you go over the $35k mark it better be BMW, Audi or Mercedes.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Exactly how I feel and I have a GTI. At the base price its a good deal. Once you load it up, the value isn’t so good, especially since they don’t come with HIDs standard anymore. $37k is way too much, even $32k with the inevitable discounted is too much.

      • 0 avatar
        rickyc

        Yeah i used to have a “base” MK5 GTI which was like $23k and came wiht HIDS, on the MK6 you gotta get the NAV pkg just to get HIDs.

      • 0 avatar
        racingmaniac

        I have the base 2011 GTI and its a pretty good value. The car pretty much has all the amenities I look for and nothing that I don’t want.(except HIDs, as mentioned). If I were to do the shopping again now I’d give a hard look at the ST though.

      • 0 avatar

        New TDi here-the interior is nice at the 24k I paid, but for 37k, I’d want more than leather, a few hp and AWD. Actually, I’d rather have cloth over leather.

        We get euro cars for less over here. OK, they decontented the Recaros, LED tailights, and adjustable suspension, but go to the VW.uk site and price out a car close to what we get. (Trendline). It is quite scary. I once rented a BMW in Germany. It was a 46k Euro car, which after exchange was a $74,000 3 series, not M, not “special”.

        This is why we get “Americanized” versions of things-also, I’m sure BMW/MB saves a lot of money making trucks over here instead of Germany.

        I visited a VW dealer in Berlin last year…the 24k TDi I bought was 34k Euro-that’s a lot for leather and a two side climate system.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I understand the desire by many devotees of the hot hatch for the GTI. It’s 10k less and puts out 95% of the performance, even if the specs on paper would lead one to assume otherwise.

        AWD isn’t that big of a deal, especially since the GTI is front wheel drive as is.

        Plus, the GTI also provides the bigger bang-for-buck slate for modding. I’d imagine it’s not hard to wring out an extra 75 horsepower from the GTI with an investment of several grand, which takes you right past the Golf R stock, but I defer to GTI owners as to whether this is in the ballpark or optimistic.

    • 0 avatar
      LeeK

      I have a GTI as well and was quite disappointed in the Golf R during a test drive. It felt slow off the line and not fundamentally different in feel from a plain GTI. It’s a shame — I really wanted to love the R. As Michael points out, it looks really good on paper.

      • 0 avatar

        Jack complained about tall gearing and I have the same in my notes. Oddly, the gearing is actually about eight percent shorter in the R than in the GTI (virtually identical transmission ratios, different final drive ratios) but I don’t recall complaints about the gearing in the latter. The Golf R weighs more, and its engine feels weaker before boost kicks in then stronger afterwards, with a more obvious transition. I suspect these are behind the perception that the gearing is overly tall.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Lower compression in the R’s engine results in less off-boost power.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      rickyc…

      Gee, I don’t know. It surely seems that Jeremy Clarkson’s “Car of the Year”, the Toyota GT 86 (Scion FR-S), looms larger and larger on the horizon: for performance, fun, and cost effectiveness. And it is selling like hot cakes here: by end of December, it will have sold as many cars in the 8 months since its introduction as Corvette will have sold in all of 2012. If you can tolerate the 2+2 seating, the FR-S might be a good alternative for $25K.

      ————–

      • 0 avatar

        VW buyers seem to put a high priority on refinement, interior materials, ride quality, noise levels, and so forth. If so, they won’t be happy with the FR-S, which scores poorly in all of these areas.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Michael—-

        If that’s the case, then for $37-39K, you’re almost back into Audi 4, MB C-class, or BMW 3-series range. And those 3 characteristics you mentioned would be available in spades. That VW Golf R may find itself neither betwixt-nor-between in market positioning.

        ————

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    The GTI is still the top hot hatch in the US. It stays the winner because of an exceptional combination of handling, performance, practicality, quality, economy and relative comfort.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    This they will offer us, but they won’t offer us a Scirocco in America because it would cannibalize Golf sales?

    Perhaps after it depreciates for a couple of years, my wife might want one to replace her WRX wagon, as she likes the Golf, but wants AWD.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      What is the big deal with cannibalizing Golf sales anyway? Either way you sell a car. Are they trying to hit some magic number?

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Every additional model you bring over cost a significant amount of money to federalize (those non-tariff barriers, you know …). If all you’re going to do is cannibalize existing models, why spend that money?

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t think federalization is a significant amount of money. There are larger costs in various tweaks for the U.S. market, advertising, PR, and perhaps most of all dealer inventory. Because the U.S. market, unlike others, continues to emphasize purchasing off the lot, a larger number of models (and even powertrains and option groups) means larger dealer inventories. Subaru cut way back on build variations for this reason as as their sales were shooting up.

  • avatar

    Down in the antipodes the cooler climate spec of the Golf R boasts 199kw so 270. People I know who have them seem to like them a lot. They make a lot more sense in markets that are not very large car oriented (meaning everywhere other than the US)

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    Having just acquired a 2013 4 door Golf R 3 weeks ago I am not going to defend acquiring one since it appears I’m in the minority and obvioulsy I know nothing about cars. But the Golf R is special. It’s solid, refined screwed together tightly with quality materials. Yep, the engine is laggy and you have to keep the revs in the 3000 to 5000 RPM range to extract power, so yes, you have to **drive** it. It has a great ride and its quiet on the highway where most of my commuting is done. This is reminiscent of my 2007 Audi S4 at a much cheaper price. Agree the $37,000 sticker is on the steep side for a Golf, but you don’t pay anywhere near that. I love the comments how there are alternatives out there like the Charger and Mustang (puke). Those cars are made for the guys who like their gals wearing tight knit sweaters so they can show off their big jiggly boobs. I’m the guy who likes their gals with glasses and advanced degrees. Enough said.

    • 0 avatar

      “I love the comments how there are alternatives out there like the Charger and Mustang (puke). Those cars are made for the guys who like their gals wearing tight knit sweaters so they can show off their big jiggly boobs.”

      I think one should buy a car based on circumstances. Before I moved to SC, I lived in the Cascades in WA, I had a Golf GTI, it loved the twisties, it was fun. The roads in SC are straight and flat, and I commute regularly to Key West, a convertible V6 Mustang had what I needed, the GTI is not a boulevard cruiser and after a few months the Key West journey was getting tiresome in it. By the way, my wife is an Engineer with a PhD from MIT, she loves me in the car.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “Those cars are made for the guys who like their gals wearing tight knit sweaters so they can show off their big jiggly boobs. I’m the guy who likes their gals with glasses and advanced degrees.”

      So, what you’re saying is gals who have advanced degrees and happen to wear glasses don’t ever wear garments that show off their boobs or in your world can they even have big boobs ?

      But here’s my real question. If you like the car you like the car. Why throw a bunch of pejoratives at people who own something different? It sounds as if your compensating for something and you know there are pumps and pills for that.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        “It sounds as if your compensating for something and you know there are pumps and pills for that”

        Weren’t you just criticizing him for using pejoratives? The very sentence before? That’s got to be a record time for amnesia to set in.

        And his were funnier and less predictable.

    • 0 avatar
      pb35

      @ Speed Spaniel:

      My glasses wearing Michigan PhD wife loves my 2012 Charger R/T Road and Track. But hey, if putting others rides down makes you feel better about your purchase, more power to ya. I had a GTI..in my 20′s. Enough said :)

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      What is wrong with big, jiggly boobs?

    • 0 avatar
      ckummer

      @speedspaniel I’m in the market for an R, 4 door. How much did you end up paying OTD?? Thank You!

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Gents all I was saying that for 37k you have a lot of options. Mo’ money, mo’ problems. Too bad you can’t get women with advanced degrees and big jiggly boobs; sometimes life isn’t fair to poseurs/hipsters.

  • avatar
    zznalg

    Also in the minority, I purchased a 4 door R a few months ago and would make the same buy today. Why? 1st, I need AWD as my gravel driveway is extremely steep and I live in the mountains. FWD or RWD won’t make it out the driveway in winter. 2nd, my professional situation requires that I “appear” to be a grownup. Left to my own devices, I would probably be very happy with a WRX or STI. 3rd, I live in a region that even in the best of economic times is fairly impoverished. My work sometimes takes me to rural areas where old pickups and Pontiac Sunbirds rule the roads. ANY Audi, BMW, MB or other “exclusive” vehicle (new or old) stands out in bass-relief and assigns to its owner all sorts of judgement and opinions -few or which would be helpful to me or my work. In many parts of my state, having such a vehicle attracts the wrong kind of attention and can even put something of a target on your back. I actually need stealth. Again, left to my own devices, I like Audis, BMW, MB’s etc. and have owned quite a few. 4th, Compared to a similarly equipped GTI at real world pricing, the difference in price is about $2500 as someone mentioned. In very short back to back road-tests, the GTI seems peppier and more tossable. The R seems more laggy and heavy. Only after a few more miles and higher speeds does the R begin to shine over the GTI. Its more buttoned down suspension delivers great solidity at speeds approaching triple digit as does its steering. There is no torque steer. And where the R’s steering can feel a tad removed compared to the GTI’s at slow speeds, it is spot-on perfect approaching autohbahn speeds. Also at 100 mph, the upgraded motor of the R pulls like a small-block locomotive in 6th gear. It’s quite exhilarating. Finally, as some already mentioned, no one is going to cross-shop a hatch with a Charger/Challenger/Mustang; and with just a stage 1 ECU tune and short-throw shift kit, the R is what it should have been from the factory.

    Admittedly, my needs push me into a very small automotive niche. I’m thankful to VW for producing a vehicle that meets my needs and desires.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Your observation that driving a new VW is sufficiently inconspicuous in rural areas is interesting to me. My (limited) experience is the opposite: in a rural western town, a man with 2 JetSkis, the trailer to put them on, and the full-size pickup to tow them went out of his was to tell me I was a “big-city liberal” because my $20K 5-banger Jetta Sportwagen looked expensive. I didn’t bother telling him that my VW had half the MSRP and half the running costs of his pickup.

      • 0 avatar
        zznalg

        Yeah, there is that. The saving grace is that at least you don’t look like a ‘rich’ big city liberal. That helps. Plus the Golf might (possibly) appear to be more plebeian than the Sportwagon. But maybe not.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I get what you are saying, and I can see the appeal to the Golf R for you. Like you said, a very small niche, but still a niche. Its more premium than the other competitors. I just see the “hot hatch” as a more value driven market.

      I wonder though, how does this compare to an equivalent Audi A3?

      • 0 avatar
        zznalg

        I think the comparable A3 to the R is the S3. Of course we can’t get those in the states. The base A3 though has terribly flaccid handling combined with over-boosted steering. It’s a depressing drive; like Audi was trying to emulate old Buicks. Also Audi does not offer the A3 with AWD and a manual in the US (another of my requirements). Volvo used to offer the V50 with AWD and a manual but no more. That could have been a consideration for me although surely it would not be nearly as fun to drive as the Golf.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I work with a bunch of young guys who own and advocate hot rides. I hear dude you need a GTI/WRX/EVO/GT/RT/SS/RS/M all the time. They are in car clubs for their respective rides. I just tell ‘em I need an SL so I can go “Fah” at people at stoplights. We’re in a business where you suit matters more than what you parked n the lot/garage.

  • avatar
    Mykl

    Very happy that they brought the Golf R here. But I’ll be keeping my ’10 GTI and maybe throwing a couple of upgrades at it. Nice car, but not nice enough to cause me to make a bad financial decision.

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    Interesting. Everybody is trying to figure out who would buy such a car, but here we have two actual owners. People have different reasons for buying or not buying a certain car. One reason is the image that the car projects to others about the owner of the car. Myself, I do not nesseceraly agree that this is the most sensible factor that a person could make his car purchasing decision on. But to some it is the most important. First guy thinks that Golf (R) drivers and their girlfriends are seen as highly intelligent and highly educated people (elitism, snobism). The second guy is worried that a true premium brand car would attract too much attention, so he wants a low-key premium-feel hot-hatch with a teutonic feel. But in an area (in the US) where people are driving old Pontiac Sunbirds new VW Golf with huge wheels sticks out as much as Audi A4 or BMW 3-series. Or am I mistaken? So basically Golf R is a car that is bought by car enthusiasts who are very concerned about the image what they project to other people.

    Charlie84 is so enthusiastic about tuning the car, that promises that you can tune the car from 256hp to 400hp in a heartbeat and with sensible budget. Thankfully mnm4ever knows what he’s talking about. To add to this subject – Golf R is no Evo 9, that with ecu flash and exhaust you can get from 280hp to a reliable 390hp. Evo was engineered from the factory as a homolgation special race car, engine/internals, gearbox, differentials, suspension parts etc are hugely over engineered to handle the power increase, Golf R is not. To bring the Golf R up to RELIABLE 400hp level you will need to make a huge investment. Second point is that with 2L turbocharged engine boosted to 350-400hp, you will loose semi-premium feel that the stock Golf R was built to give to the driver. With such boost levels the engine will be nervous, you’ll have a on-off turbo engine, boost will come very suddenly and then you need to know what you are doing with the car if you plan to use the WOT position of the accelerator pedal. Also 400hp exhaust loudness level will get tiresome after some time and fuel economy will be in a totally different ballpark. So with 400hp there won’t be much left of the “special-Golf-R-feel” that you paid 37k USD for.

    • 0 avatar
      Mykl

      From what I gather roughly 350 BHP is achievable on the stock turbo with an exhaust and an ECU recalibration. This is using a high quality exhaust that (probably) won’t be annoying when you’re cruising. It’s still no EVO, but as somebody who lived with an STi for a few years I can say that there are positives to this.

      Besides, the reason a Golf R could never be an EVO isn’t the engine, it’s the drivetrain from the transmission back. The pseudo-AWD system in the Golf is a compromise compared to the performance focused system in the EVO. IMO the Golf R isn’t so much an AWD car as it is a FWD car which receives limited assistance from the rear wheels in special situations.

    • 0 avatar
      Charlie84

      @Brock_Landers:

      “Charlie84 is so enthusiastic about tuning the car, that promises that you can tune the car from 256hp to 400hp in a heartbeat and with sensible budget. Thankfully mnm4ever knows what he’s talking about.”

      Okay, enough with the conjecture. Every one of my statements has been accurate and comes from first-hand experience. mnm4ever might know a thing or two about GTIs, but he’s wrong on a great number of his assertions that I haven’t bothered to correct him on since I’m not in the habit of getting into internet pissing matches.

      It’s this simple: APR Stage 2+. 327 whp. At the crank, this would equate to at least 392 hp. As for drivability, At stage 2+, it’s actually enhanced over stock. Wider power band. More linear throttle response. APR did a great job tuning the exhaust to be quiet until you’re at WOT. No loss of “semi-premium feel”. You should try gathering some data before you go about making careless assertions.

      Finally, the notion that this is an Evo competitor is just asinine. Most people here haven’t referenced it as such because it’s clearly not. It is for people who love the GTI, but want more performance and want to tinker with it. Is it a niche? Yes, undoubtedly. That’s why their sales target is a meager 5,000 units over 2 model years for North America.

      If you want an Evo, the Golf R won’t do it for you. If you want a Mustang/Camaro/Challenger, the Golf R won’t do it for you. If you’re a VW nerd that loves the GTI but wishes it were a more serious performer and you’ve got money to burn, the Golf R is a dream come true. That’s the target audience.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        @charlie — I agree with your point about who the target market for this car is. No doubt, this is the ultimate GTI, and the GTI fanatic with money to burn will want it, does want it, and is basically who buys them. It is a narrow niche, but it hits the target.

        My main point though is that the power gains you were throwing around are not as easy or cheap to get as you are making it sound. All of APR’s staged power gains are estimates based on crank HP, not dyno’d at the wheels. So your 327hp is crank power, you cannot up-estimate it to 392hp, and even the 327 is an estimate. And S2+ takes a $500 tune, adds a $300 fuel pump, a $400 intake, and a $1500 exhaust system, and THEN still requires someone to custom tune all that to get the power you are claiming. To get to an actual 400hp requires a turbo upgrade, header, downpipe, intercooler, etc (and run 100 octane race fuel) and costs approximately the same price it would for my GTI to get to 400hp (but the R will be able actually put that power down since you have the AWD). It isnt $1000, it isnt $2k, its an easy $6k to get there. And I still debate your claim to a sub-4-sec 0-60 time, my bet is 4.5 secs for a DSG, and even slower for a stick, and I bet even that requires massive abuse of the launch control, the DSG is terrible off the line as it is. Ditto with the price difference, you threw out a number of a $1000 difference between the GTI and an R, and that’s simply not true. Maybe you got a sweet deal on yours, and you might compare that to full MSRP of a loaded GTI without negotiating a discount, but that isn’t really an apples-to-apples comparison now is it?

        I am not knocking your car, I really love the R. I just think it costs too much for what you get. If you are the type of guy that doesn’t care how much it costs, you want it anyways, great. I wish I had that kind of money! But my only point, along with it sounds like many others here, is that there are not a lot of takers for this car at that price.

      • 0 avatar
        Charlie84

        One more time, with feeling: The 327 horsepower I mentioned was measured AT THE WHEEL on a dyno in front of me. It did three pulls and hit 327 WHEEL horsepower exactly, three times in a row. I am not quoting an APR figure.

        Use whatever drivetrain loss % you feel is appropriate for the Haldex AWD. I went with 20% because it seemed like a safe, conservative bet.

        There is nothing “custom” about the car. It’s all off-the-shelf APR stuff. It has an aftermarket intake, APR fuel pump, APR downpipe, and APR’s standard S2+ software for 93 octane gas. It has the stock K04 turbo, stock fuel injectors, stock intercooler.

        I’m not sure where you’re getting this “easy $6K” figure. Here is the breakdown:

        Software: $599
        Intake: $399
        Fuel pump: $649
        Downpipe: $755
        Shop time: Approx. 5 hours total (let’s say $500)
        TOTAL: Less than $3,000

        Again, I don’t even know what APR quotes for power figures. But in real life, the particular Golf R in question, with only the mods listed above, is putting down 327 wheel horsepower. Say it with me: Wheel. Horse. Power.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        That is quite impressive, 327whp exceeds even the claims made by the tuners that actually design this stuff. But here, here, lets say this with feeling: Every dyno reads differently.

        You do realize that any dyno anywhere can read higher or lower, be off by 10-20%, etc, even on different days. Different brands read differently. Some “identical” engines make more power than others. VAG notoriously underrates their engines. APR estimates a 35hp drivetrain loss on the Golf R charts, not a full 20%. The fact that you saw one guy get one series of pulls in a row and peak at 327hp is great, but not proof of close to 400hp. What was he pulling before that magical day? How much was the engine making before any mods were done? How much did he get just off the boost tune, as opposed to the incremental upgrades gotten from the HPFP, intake and exhaust. Oh, by the way, in your under $3k quote you forgot the $2k APR exhaust, which is required to be a “Stage 2+”. So that makes it… wait for it…. $5k total using your figures. Maybe he only had Stage 1+? And how exactly do you know he didn’t have it tuned? Why on earth would he spend $3-5k on mods, bring the car to a shop to have them installed and have the car dynoed, and NOT pay the $300-500 more it costs to have his APR tune customized to his car??? I guess if he just slapped it all on there and instantly beat the manufacturer’s claims by 20% I wouldn’t mess with it either, but that’s just pure luck. And I don’t care if he told you so, everywhere I go I find car guys lying about how much they spent or what they had done to the cars.

        I got my “easy 6k” figure from APR, if I want to get a Stage 3+” kit that is an entire turbo replacement for the R. That is what APR says you need to get the car to 400 crank horse power. Which is the number you were throwing around. Now a GTI can get to stage 2 with just a ECU tune and a downpipe, the factory exhaust and injectors are fine for that. Stage 2 on a GTI gets you 260hp, but they dyno the stock engine at 216, not 200. So its not even a 50hp gain. To get any more requires a turbo upgrade. So I am in for about $1500, any more just wouldn’t be worth it. For the R, to do a Stage 1+ you would be in for around $2k which APR claims will get to 335hp, but lets call it 350hp to account for your buddy on the dyno. That is still very impressive, and I sincerely doubt it will affect driveability. I bet it feels really nice right there. Next step on the APR ladder is the $2k exhaust, but an exhaust is not going to add 50-70hp, the stock exhaust is pretty good as is. TO spend $2k on an exhaust to get 5hp is silly. So, as I stated before, to get to 400hp (reported and verified by an actual tuning company and not some guy with a dyno) takes a turbo upgrade which is very pricey. And to get the 0-60 times below 4 seconds will take at least that plus more.

        So call it as it is… the Golf R is the ultimate GTI with AWD and a better breathing fortified block that can see 330hp with a couple grand in mods. But it will cost you $35k at a minimum to get there and thats if you dont want a 4dr or any other options. There is nothing else out there like it, even from VAG, so while many people may prefer to spend $35k on other cars, they won’t find a Euro AWD turbo hatch with a stick anywhere except in Europe. At any price.

      • 0 avatar
        Charlie84

        @mnm4ever:

        Why, what do we have here? Another APR S2+ Golf R making exactly the same wheel horsepower and wheel torque figures? (His intercooler and turbo-back exhaust don’t add power in this context): http://youtu.be/-K6NDRD_bGE

        By the way, cat-back exhausts do just about nothing for power –they’re mainly for cosmetics and sound. The flow restriction is in the downpipe. You can feel free to replace the downpipe and leave the stock exhaust in place. Many do. The full turbo-back exhaust is not required. I’m not sure why a custom tune would be necessary when everything is part of APR’s standard S2+ package. Either way, he’s done modding the car as he’s completely satisfied with it now. As far as I’m concerned, my GLI’s stock horsepower is plenty for me.

        I realize that all dynos are different. There are many variables to consider. Not all pump gas is equal, for instance. So, if it were my car, I’d want to verify the manufacturer/tuner’s claims. I’d want to measure it’s output in a context similar to my actual daily driving conditions (gas, elevation, temperature, other mods, etc). So we did that. And we got 327 whp/344 wheel torque. For his specific car, this is the most accurate figure available. SO: Under $3K spent on go-fast parts. 327whp.

        The S2+ 1/4 mile times being reported (via timeslip scans, not hearsay or embellishments) in the forums is low- to mid-12 seconds. Racelogic-measured 0-60 times I’ve seen range from 3.9 (DSG) to 4.5 (manual). Obviously there are lot of variables to consider there, as well (most importantly, the squishy bag of meat sitting behind the steering wheel). The Golf R fanboys consider these times to be plenty fast. I’m sure the Evo and Camaro crowds probably disagree…but then, a person like me finds their rides to be frankly embarrassing. Obviously, no one buys a Golf to impress people. The beauty of the Golf R is that most people assume it’s just an ordinary Golf.

        “So call it as it is… the Golf R is the ultimate GTI with AWD and a better breathing fortified block that can see 330hp with a couple grand in mods. But it will cost you $35k at a minimum to get there and thats if you dont want a 4dr or any other options. There is nothing else out there like it, even from VAG, so while many people may prefer to spend $35k on other cars, they won’t find a Euro AWD turbo hatch with a stick anywhere except in Europe. At any price.”

        Pretty sure you just paraphrased what I’ve been saying here all along.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I have been agreeing all along with what you have been saying… except for the 400hp part and the under 4-sec 0-60 time part. Like I said, I will give you the 327whp, but that’s not 400hp and just because it was fairly cheap and easy to get from 270 to 327, doesn’t mean it will be just as cheap and easy to get from 327 to 400+. And I know that most of the flow restriction is in the downpipe, but APR requires a full turbo back exhaust to be considered S2+ for the R, the other guys are still at Stage 1+. Which is even more impressive, since those power claims are coming in above what APR is claiming. My guess is the R engines are underrated by VAG, and when all is said and done, you are upping the boost and opening the flow and grabbing an extra 60hp. Pretty much the same gains you see on the GTI with APR stage 2, but the K04 flows better and therefore gets a little extra benefit. Any more than that requires a much bigger investment, which is all I have been saying.

      As for your 0-60 and 1/4 mile time claims, I trust the timeslips more than the Racelogic. But while I can sorta see a 330hp AWD car pulling mid 12s, it is a little harder to trust a 3.9sec 0-60 on a fairly heavy car, even with the AWD helping out, simply because the base car with 60 less hp is a lot slower. It takes a while to get that car moving, but you can make that up over a 1/4 mile. And the DSG will not last long using launch control. They have to be abusing the hell out of those cars to get those times, and in the real world no one is doing that with. So on the street it will be slower.

      • 0 avatar
        Charlie84

        Here is a 3.9: http://www.golfmk6.com/forums/showpost.php?p=872760&postcount=8

        Like I said, it is possible with the DSG. Add ~.5 for a manual transmission, if you manage to get the launch just right.

        If the 400 horsepower thing is your sticking point, consider that we enthusiasts have long used the rule of thumb that drivetrain losses tend to come out to somewhere under 20% for 2wd cars and 20%+ for AWD cars. Either way, 20% is not an unreasonable assumption, and so neither is 392 crank horsepower. If the new Haldex system is more mechanically efficient and drivetrain losses are actually under 15% (going by your blanket “35 horsepower” figure), then that works out to 362 crank horsepower. A 92 horsepower increase over stock is healthy indeed and doesn’t really change the gist of my larger point about lots of power (reliable, well-behaved, daily-drivable power at that) being within reach and how the AWD really puts it down effectively.

        APR S2+ does NOT require the full turbo-back exhaust. The downpipe does just fine, as evidenced by (you guessed it) a certain 327 whp dyno figure. APR would like you to believe that the TBE is necessary in order to sell you one, but it is not actually required by the software. It is, however, pretty cool looking.

        You can’t teach a GTI to send power to it’s rear wheels. You can’t tune an Evo to be refined. And you can’t buy a Camaro/Mustang GT/Challenger that flies below the radar.

        Lastly, if you’re suggesting that people drive differently at the drag strip then on the street, well, that’s about as shocking as saying that German cars tend to be expensive. All zero-to-60 times you see quoted in magazines take place under conditions rarely seen on public roads and in cars driven in a way I’d never drive my own car. Clutches and tires are not inexpensive items.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Yea, the 400hp and the 3.9 0-60 for under $2k are my big sticking points from your post.

        Like I said, I trust drag strip timeslips more than the self-run equipment. That also looks like exactly the same link you posted before, so still one guy on the internet in Europe making an unverifiable claim about one spectacular run he had.

        Same thing with your HP claims, like I said, I already will give you the 327hp on the dyno. But that does not translate automatically to a 92hp increase, you can’t just assume the factory numbers as a base to your arbitrary dyno run. You need a good baseline before you make changes, then again after mods. Without a very recent, repeatable baseline of your friend’s car on the same dyno before the mods were done, you can’t really tell what kind of increase he got. And while historically the 20% rule has been used, with new cars and new technology that has been proven to be too much. APR uses 10% IIRC, so do most magazines.

        All you have to do is read the APR website and see that clearly Stage 2+ for the Golf R does require a full exhaust, at around $2k. I do agree that installing that full exhaust probably isn’t going to change the HP figures at the dyno enough to even notice compared to the DP only, but that is besides the point, APR gets to make the rules however they want. If you didn’t buy the exhaust you are not Stage 2+, you are Stage 1+. And as I said, that is even more impressive since you are beating the claims APR makes anyway.

        Finally, yeah I know people drive differently at the drag strip than they do on the street. But for some cars, that difference is not nearly as destructive to the car, nor needed to extract very close to the best performance. A guy with Mustang can do a little slight power braking and then go, and will get within a cpl 10ths of his best. A DSG in launch mode is violent in my GTI, and I am betting it is a lot harder on the car with 330hp and AWD. Use it without launch control and you will lose a full sec, maybe more. A stick might be slower but it will be more useable and less damaging.

        Like I have said several times, I love the car, just like I love my GTI. But I am betting that if APR could regularly get 400hp out a stock 2 liter 4-cyl with just a tune and downpipe they would be flying that flag everywhere.

      • 0 avatar
        Charlie84

        “Yea, the 400hp and the 3.9 0-60 for under $2k are my big sticking points from your post.”

        Never made that claim! I was careful to note that those sub-4 second times were accomplished with the DSG. But, as I said, the internet is lousy with 4.5-ish manual transmission/S2+ times.

        But you’re right: $2K is not $3K. I believe I said “a couple grand.” Please excuse my casual language. I was simply trying to provide insight into the tuning potential of the platform for those who consider the stock version too slow. If someone wants to maximize their value with the Golf R, I think spending about $1200 on new summer tires and APR’s Stage 1 software would be a whole lot of bang-for-the-buck (they rate it at 306 crank hp).

        “…you can’t just assume the factory numbers as a base to your arbitrary dyno run.”

        You sure did when you compared 270 horsepower to 327 whp. Either way, the gap has to be much larger than 60 horsepower. The breadth of the powerband is also a factor –with the supporting mods, the Stage 2+ is much wider than stock. It isn’t simply a matter of taking one power curve and moving it further up the Y-axis.

        A 10% drivetrain loss is ridiculous for AWD. There’s no way it can be that efficient. Of course, we have no way of determining what the Golf R’s drivetrain loss might be without independent testing on chassis and engine dynos. Frankly, we have no idea what sort of correction factor to apply here. 15 to 20% is far more realistic, while still producing very conservative “corrected” crank hp numbers. Heck, I’ve seen claims of 30% drivetrain losses in Subaru’s AWD.

        Sure, APR may “require” their turbo-back exhaust to meet their marketing definition of “Stage 2+”, but my local VW tuning shop is more than happy to install the Stage 2+ software file on a car with only an intake, HPFP, and downpipe. And it works perfectly fine, judging from the number of Golf R owners running the downpipe without the APR cat-back section…just about all of whom, by the way, are putting down in the neighborhood of 327 all-wheel-horsepower regardless of which exhaust they’re running.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        I didnt “assume” my numbers, I got them straight from APR, when they actually did baseline runs to determine the factory HP (which was underrated by 15-20hp), and then compared them to their mods.

        Your numbers came from watching one dyno run and reading a lot of internet posts and youtube videos claiming certain numbers. And as I pointed out, a dyno reading is pretty useless without a baseline to compare it to. The internet is lousy with lots of people making lots of inaccurate claims.

        You are right about the drivetrain loss, until we strap it up to an engine dyno and then compare it to the car we will never know for sure. But the people who actually make a living doing this seem to settle on 10%. There is probably some very complicated physics calculations you can do to figure out how much power you can get with the factory heads, different exhausts, etc. Or you can just think it through… 2-liter 4 cyl engine with a turbo, 400hp with no daily driver compromises… doesn’t really pass the common sense test does it?

        The Golf R is a great car, I am not arguing that. It is also very tuneable, and 330-350hp out of the basically stock engine is still really good. It just isn’t 400hp. What would be really cool is for TTAC to do a comparo test of these hot hatches with the most common tuning done, and see how they compare then. Maybe cap it at $2k worth of mods and give each car the same tires to eliminate that variable, then see how the Golf R compares to the WRX, the GTI, MS3, etc.

  • avatar
    hans007

    not exactly true.

    the golf R uses the EA113 engine. it is belt driven and and older design that earlier golf mark V cars used. this was later switched over to the EA888 which all mark VI GTIs use
    .

    EA113 engine is only used in the S3, TT-S, and R. all other 2.0 Turbo audi / vw engines are the newer EA888 design

  • avatar
    RIK

    So, people are singing praises of this 4-cylinder FWD box just because it’s European? I test drove the thing and the steering feel compared to my BMW 130i was just dead! no sale.

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    Charlie: As for drivability, At stage 2+, it’s actually enhanced over stock. Wider power band. More linear throttle response. APR did a great job tuning the exhaust to be quiet until you’re at WOT. No loss of “semi-premium feel”. You should try gathering some data before you go about making careless assertions.

    My data gathering is experience driving lot of different modified turbo cars. Have you actually driven a 270hp factory stock 2.0L turbo car and the same car modified to 400hp? With higher boost and 1,5x power (400hp) from a 2.0L turbo engine you will get much narrower powerband and totally different (jumpy-nervous) throttle response. That is a real life fact, tuning houses car draw whichever graphs they want when they advertise their products. I dont want to insult you charlie, but it seems you have read a lot about the subject, but you lack personal real life experience.

    Charile: Finally, the notion that this is an Evo competitor is just asinine.

    I did not say Golf R was Evo competitor. If you read my post again you can see that I compared Evo 9-s technological level and durability to tuning to Golf R. If you use absolute minimum budget to boost the Golf R to 400hp (the absolute minimum (and realistic) part list to achieve this was described by mnm4ever) then your Golf R will spend most of the time in your local tuning shop getting something fixed. Thats why I made the comparsion with Evo 9. That is the tuning difference with those cars. One thing is reliable daily driven horsepower you can use every day around the year not worrying that something could blow apart, the other horsepower is momentary peak horsepower achieved few times in a dyno.

    PS! You claim one Golf R dynoed 327awhp and 344 awtq. All EA113 tuners agree that maximum safe crank torque that the stock rods can handle is around 350lbft. So that car you described can drive around with that tune how long – a week, a month before bending the rods?

    • 0 avatar
      Charlie84

      “Have you actually driven a 270hp factory stock 2.0L turbo car and the same car modified to 400hp?”

      If you’ve been following the thread here, you’ll see that I’ve driven a car modified to 327 awhp/344 torque. Apparently, we’ll all have to draw our own conclusions for now about what sort of crank horsepower numbers that works out to. And I don’t claim that “one” Golf R has dyno’d at 327/344, I claim that MANY have. There are dozens of S2+ Golf Rs out there in the forums. The one (actually, two) I’ve driven is not an outlier.

      “With higher boost and 1,5x power (400hp) from a 2.0L turbo engine you will get much narrower powerband and totally different (jumpy-nervous) throttle response. That is a real life fact…”

      Both the owner of the Golf R in question and myself come from a long line of naturally-aspirated BMWs. We both agree that the Golf R at Stage 2+ feels more like a naturally-aspirated car than it did stock, at Stage 1, or at Stage 1+ (yes, the upgrades were done slowly, in stages so that we could discern the improvements). We concluded that Stage 1 had the the most “spiky” power delivery, while the breathing mods for Stage 1+ significantly smoothed it out. The stock intake’s limitations are readily apparent as you crank up the K04′s boost to Stage 1 levels. Stage 2+, with it’s APR downpipe, further enhances the linearity of the power delivery over 1+.

      Your comments comparing the Evo seem informed, but most everything you’ve said about the Golf R is conjecture. I would ask if you’ve driven a well-tuned Golf R, but I think I know the answer. Certainly, any time the boost is increased on a turbocharged motor, you must pay for it with a corresponding decrease in MTBF (mean time between failures). It is the nature of things. But, at Stage 2+, the EA113 in the Golf R s far from being a time-bomb or a dyno-queen. Aside from being a good bit louder at WOT, it is as daily-drivable and well-mannered as the stock item. I know three individuals with Stage 2+ Golf Rs. So far, they’ve all been perfectly reliable. Not a single hiccup. If you care to read the forums, there are many more out there putting down the same power numbers and being driven daily.

      On the topic of supposed weakness, which version of the EA113 are you referring to? The K03 version from 2006-2008? Or the fortified version found in the Golf R/Audi S3/TTS? Either way, I’ve not seen this figure elsewhere.

      MTM’s pricing could very well be one of the reasons why so few VW enthusiasts in North America use them. Once again, here is the breakdown needed to achieve 327awhp with APR’s products:

      Software: $599
      Intake: $399
      Fuel pump: $649
      Downpipe: $755
      Shop time: Approx. 5 hours total (let’s say $500)
      TOTAL: Less than $3,000

      Other companies, such as AWE, Unitronic or Revo, generally offer similar packages and gains. There’s more to comparing trans-Atlantic prices than just exchange rates. For example, in Europe it’s quite easy to option a Golf GTD past 40K euros (base price is approx $36K US)! The price of a European Golf R would make your eyes water. We pay incredibly low prices for our cars in the U.S.

      Source: http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2012-volkswagen-gtd-diesel-instrumented-test-review

      And with that, I think I’m done with this thread. I’ll be unsubscribing from the email notifications. If you want to know more about what it’s like to own and drive an S2+ Golf R, go check out the forums.

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    PS Charlie! MTM is one of the most reputable VW-Audi tuners in the world and they are known for the reliability(!) and quality of their products/packages.

    380hp kit costs ca 18.400 euros (with installation), that is around 24.000.- USD. We can argue about European vs US market pricing differences and currency exchange rates, but real expenses and your estimations for achieving around 400 reliable hp are from different universes. Or is MTM trying to massively overcharge and cheat their customers?

    http://www.mtm-online.de/en/VW/Golf-6/2-0-TSI-199kW-270hp-Golf-R-4motion?FZID=GOLF6199&KIT=mgo6270380qc – the same 270hp EA113 engine.

  • avatar
    dts187

    So much hate for this car on here. Let’s keep in mind that this is a limited production vehicle for a niche market. Let me wax about my view of the R.

    I’ve driven a new R. I was shopping for a GTI and was being up-sold on the the R. 2 door with an extra set of rubber floor mats. I obliged and took it on a nice, long test drive. I’d driven the GTI (that I evenutally bought) earlier in the day.

    The R feels like it has a touch less power off the line than the GTI but with the GTI’s wheel hop they seemed about even. You can definitely feel the GTI is the lighter of the pair while driving. The seats in the R are a very nice place to be.

    Here is the differences I noticed:
    On the interstate in 6th gear, the GTI needs to downshift to 4th or even 3rd to pull well. The R pulls in 6th with gusto. Downshift to 4th and it will take you from 70 to 100 like a young coed’s grade after sleeping with the professor. In high-speed, sweeping interstate turns the R was unbelievably planted. The R stickered for touch over $35k. I was told I could take it home for $32k.

    After the test drive the R made more sense. It’s less of a hot hatch and more of a touring car. It had this feel of refined aggression. If more of my life was spent on the interstate I could see forking over the extra 6k on the R.

    Let’s stop comparing it to WRXs, Evos, and STs. The R offers an interesting and more affordable choice to someone looking for a premium AWD car. Compare the performance and price to a 3 series or C-Class and the R looks pretty good.

    • 0 avatar
      Mykl

      You may have to downshift to get past another vehicle with authority in a GTI, but short of an emergency maneuver there’s enough power in sixth gear at 3000 RPMs on the interstate to cleanly and effortlessly pass anything that isn’t trying to out-accelerate you. Even on two lane highways at 60 mph I’ve felt that the thrust the GTI brings in sixth is sufficient.

      Clearly the R ups the ante in this regard, but the GTI is hardly deficient.

      • 0 avatar
        dts187

        My daily driver is a Mk6 GTI. Traffic on I-79 usually has an 80mph pace and here in West Virginia it’s not exactly flat. There have been a few times where my GTI just didn’t have guts to make a move without dropping to 3rd or 4th. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. The shifts are near instant and very well executed(Hello DSG!). I was simply stating one of the major differences between the GTI and the R based on my limited chance to compare them.

    • 0 avatar
      zznalg

      As one of the R owners in this conversation, I would say that you sum up the stock R’s feel, its strengths and how it diverges from the GTI very accurately.

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    quote mnm4ever :Or you can just think it through… 2-liter 4 cyl engine with a turbo, 400hp with no daily driver compromises… doesn’t really pass the common sense test does it?

    I totally agree! That basically sums up all the contradiction in Charlie’s claims. Maybe people just feel cars diffrently and don’t notice the dramatic change in engine’s characteristics going from 270hp to 400hp with 2.0l 4cyl turbo engine ;) Charile if you read this thread, then please see the parts list that MTM offers to reach 380hp, it is not only about the cost, but the parts you need to achieve this reliable hp figure. I think this has been a healthy discussion, because lot of readers here have no hands-on experience in tuning turbocharged cars and initially most readers based on Chariles claims were under the impression, that with few thousand bucks you basically get an LS2-swap like characteristics and reliability out of Golf R’s engine :)

  • avatar

    “I think this has been a healthy discussion”

    I second that. These discussions enhance TTAC

  • avatar
    jjd17

    First off – if you’re paying 37k for this car – you need to find a new dealership.

    Although its a good discussion – I still have to agree with the points that this is indeed a niche car for a niche market. If you want the Golf R, you are going to buy the Golf R – and nothing else out there is really comparable to it. The STi/EVO’s are too ricer-ish for my personal taste, with subpar interiors. Those too however, are niche cars and the people buying those generally know that’s exactly what they want. I’m personally past the JDM scene.

    I think 32k OTD for this hatchback is easily justifiable. Living in a snow-ridden area, AWD is a nice commodity. I like the look of VW hatches. This is a more refined look than a GTI. I currently own an RSX-S and would see the GTI as a lateral move – if not slight downgrade. I don’t want the sedan yet.

    32k – AWD, Niche car, extremely practical. i’ll drive it.

  • avatar
    SK2

    Thought I’d add my two cents, as the recent buyer of a 2013 Golf R 4-door w/Nav:
    This was not the car I wanted to buy. I want a diesel 4WD Golf. I’ve been driving a 2003 TDI Jetta wagon for ten years. Before that an A4. Put the two together and it would suit me perfectly. I drive my kids to school every day about 45 minutes through New England weather from the mountains to the valley. I’m an avid cyclist, and raise cows. I paid 500 over invoice, and financed for 36 months at zero percent. While some might argue that I am a fool to have paid this much, I managed to get 30% off on my last vehicle purchase, a 2009 Tundra: list 28, invoice 25, 19.2, less the 1000 trade. Deal. This won’t happen again, and the dealer I go to wasn’t interested in letting any of the R’s they had go for a song. I just took an irrational shine to this car. It manages to do everything pretty well. I get 24.2 mpg on the same drive my TDI returned 44, which given the performance of this car is acceptable. Nobody passes me on the right anymore. The 4WD system works well for my purposes, and if it favors the front to get better mileage that makes plenty of sense. The car came with Pirelli P-Zero tires, which I swapped out for Conti WinterContact 810′s and these work very well. I’ve read the car doesn’t flick or slide, but come on out into the snow and sand on the roads I drive if you’re tired of dry pavement. The back end seems to tuck in at the apex of a turn, and with a touch of the pedal around it comes. Handling is taught, ride a bit on the stiff side, which I like. It goes where I point it. Love the headlights that look around the turn. My wife has an A3, which is an impressive car, and maybe would have suited me, but it feels small inside, and I prefer that ample interior of the Golf, the bigger doors, etc. Also, I have to have a manual transmission. My preference. I don’t think I am alone in lacking the skills to use the power this and many other cars have. Driving for ten years with only 90 horsepower on tap, I’ve marveled at the general public’s inability to negotiate anything other than a straightaway. 1/4 mile speeds mean nothing to me. I don’t bolt from the line, ever. I’m not racing anyone. But this car will pass a line of cars in a heartbeat within the alloted passing lanes I drive, and it managed to avoid the guy who ran a red light into me the other night on a complex intersection leading onto the interstate. Avoided, passed, and dropped in a heartbeat. Power is overrated. I love the brakes. On the testdrive, I was sold as soon as I touched the pedal leaving the lot. I don’t want to go fast fast, I want to stop fast- that’s the performance I am after. When I was looking at the car, one drove into the lot. A middle aged woman got out, professor at the local U. Quizzed her. She said she’d had many cars like this, “nickel rockets” she called them. The Golf R was the best she’d ever had because it was so well balanced. This is what I like about it, the Goldilocks fit. I did not look at anything other than Audi. They are a bit too refined for my taste- two tone interiors and the like. The controls on the R are better suited to me. Heat seats are easier to activate. Navigation doesn’t require reading glasses. Quattro is great, but as my brother in law showed me when I let him test drive the A4, it doesn’t overcome the laws of physics, even with Nokians. Again, power is what you do with it.
    I read the manual before driving much. Broke the car in accordingly. I’ve read the blogs and wonder whether many other people read this. Stage 3 to me would be to drop a diesel into the car, and hope for high 30′s mileage with all the torque the gas motor has.
    There are five or more R’s locally. Mostly guys like myself. Another MTB guy I know, and a few I’ve seen in passing. Some modded R32′s, one which can light the tires at will. The people who like them like them. A friend had an STI. He sold it after six months. It was not fast enough. He’s a motorcyclist, and he figured he’d get killed because he made calculations about passing based on his gut that the car could not deliver. I would not buy an American car. Sorry. I wanted one out of Wolfsburg.
    I found the reading above to be very interesting, and I thank you all for taking the time to argue the various points you have. To the other R owners, enjoy.

  • avatar
    matty429

    I wanted an all wheel drive car with close to 300HP that fit this simple Criteria.

    1.Can carry my wife and 2 children comfortably.
    2.Can Carry my Drums.
    3.Is not a Subaru.
    4.Is under 35k

    I got My R with Nav for 34.5k new..
    Added Stage 1 and it is a very special/versatile/livable car.

  • avatar
    joenuke

    I bought a 2013 R. In upstate NY with all the snow an awd car is a plus. I own a BMW 328xi. I drove a 2012 GTI for a week, torque steer from hell. The interior of MS3′s, WRX, and EVO’s look like cheap plastic toys. I got my R for around $34k, base 2 door. I spent $1,000 in mods and now make ~300 HP. I also owned a’08 R32…..Mustangs, Camaros, and Challengers all look like cartoons of their muscle car ancestors. No thanks. If the Golf R makes no sense then why are they so hard to find? As for resale, I had several unsolicited offers for my R32. Likely it will be the same with the R.

  • avatar
    SK2

    Talked with a woman yesterday who has an R32, stick. Asked her about reliability. 130K, and she has replaced a wheel bearing. Nothing else but oil every 5K. Her boyfriend is a mechanic, which does not hurt, but still. My ’03 TDI has had a host of issues that I paid for because I liked the car. 180K did not come cheap. If the R has the reliability of her R32, it will be worth the expense.

  • avatar
    captainchunk

    I currently own a 2007 GTI w/DSG and the Package 2 interior (essentially the same package they now call “Autobahn”). Stage-I APR software, upgraded DV and CAI are my only mods.

    I test drove the new R just for kicks and to see how different it was – I wasn’t even remotely interested in buying one, mind you. A couple thoughts:

    1. It’s definitely faster, but the power seems less accessible in daily driving situations. As in: driving around the city at sane speeds. I had to take the R on the highway to realize its potential. To be fair, I was also a bit rusty on driving a manual, so take it for what it’s worth, I guess.

    2. Handling feels basically the same as it does in my present GTI. To be honest, I’m not really surprised. The overall utility offered by AWD is relatively moot where I live (Phoenix metro). Granted, you do get more traction for those extra ponies. But from a pure performance point of view, my thinking is that unless you plan on tuning this car beyond factory spec, you could probably live without the AWD.

    Would I pay $35k+ for this car? Probably not. I can see where it may be a no-brainer upgrade for enthusiasts, versus an Autobahn package GTI (those can easily command $31-32k new off a lot, the way dealers option them), but I will also contend that add-on options make VWs a lot more expensive than they should be. You can buy a lightly used 3-Series for the same money. I only bought a loaded GTI back in 2007 because a) I got a smoking deal; and b) it was the end of the model year and it was impossible to find a stripper model with 18″ wheels and a sunroof. So, I spent about $2000 more than I wanted to, but oh well – I still love my car.

    But the main point here is that best value sporty car you can get from VW is still the base GTI. Based on my observations, it’s 85-90% of the car the R is for a lot less money. To me, spending over $30k for a hatchback VW borders on the insane.

  • avatar
    Tassmania

    As an owner of a GTI (dsg, 5 door, Stage 1+) and now an audi S3 Stage 2+(manual three door) I will add:

    The tuning of the S3 added a little under 50% more power (pre and post dyno). So not 400hp, but not too far off it.

    To the ignoramus above who thinks this type of tuning makes the car less driveable i assure you that you are wrong. The tuned car is better in every possible way. It is not louder, it gets better fuel economy, the awd system starts to make sense, it is far less laggy.

    The tuned GTI was crap. front wheel drive cant handle the kind of torque that the car makes tuned. Meanwhile the S3/R becomes great fun. Hard corner exits get the awd working and suddenly it worth having and you are moving at a speed a gti can only dream of.

    To the other ignoramus that thinks tuning a gti and a golf r is the same in terms of power increases- think again. Having done both the R/S3 motors have a lot more power waiting to be unleashed than the gti.

    *I am in australia, so I wont comment on the rrp of the 2 cars in the U.S. Down here cars are MUCH more expensive than in the U.S.


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