By on September 13, 2017

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Not long ago, I wrote glowingly about the new Honda Civic Type R. Part of my praise was based on the fact that the Type R is bargain-priced compared to its competition.

Yeah, I liked the Type R. A lot. Even took a little crap in the comments for it (fair enough). But again, a big reason for my praise was the price. If the Type R was stickered the same as its three main competitors – the Ford Focus RS, Subaru WRX STI, and Volkswagen Golf R – would it still be “all that?”

On its own merits, sure. It’s very, very good. Great, even. But a strong argument can be made that all things being equal, the Golf R is even better. And I’m about to make it.

(Read More…)

By on August 31, 2017

2016 Volkswagen Golf R - Image: VW

Unlike Mercedes-AMG, Volkswagen’s R performance division isn’t much of a sub-brand. While the VW Golf R remains the industry’s quintessential hot hatch, there’s no shortage of rivals ready and willing to usurp its position as a segment leader. Also, one model does not a sub-brand make.

Down the road from VW’s Wolfsburg, Germany, headquarters, the executives in Stuttgart can’t AMG-ify Mercedes-Benz products fast enough. SUVs, “coupe” variants of SUVs, sedans, and legit coupes are all going under the knife, emerging with taut suspension, improved driving dynamics, and an all-important shot of horsepower — traditionally in “strong” and “extra strong” doses. Not only does it improve an automaker’s image, it also helps sell high-profit utility vehicles.

Volkswagen requires some of Mercedes-AMG’s medicine. Now, according to a recent report, it may have the cure it’s looking for. (Read More…)

By on May 19, 2016

2016 Volkswagen Golf R Lapiz blue

$26,415.

$36,470.

$43,395.

The jumps in price from the four-door Volkswagen Golf GTI to the Volkswagen Golf R to the Audi S3, three closely related cars, are not insignificant. Yet in spite of the dollar differences, or perhaps because of the dollar differences, the trio inevitably undergoes the value proposition comparison, as if “value” is the reason 460 buyers per month spend around $40,000 on a Volkswagen hatchback.

I’ve now been privileged to spend a week with each car. Sadly, a Lapiz Blue 2016 Volkswagen Golf R just left my driveway to make room for, as fate would have it, a 2016 Toyota Prius.

And I have no trouble making the case for the Golf R as the fast VeeDub to own. (Read More…)

By on February 22, 2015

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The raindrops, small as #12 shot, plink against the glass, coating the pavement in a greasy film. Not ideal for a spirited drive in a nearly 300 horsepower hot hatch, even one with AWD, but Southern California needs the rain, even if it’s just a half-hearted attempt by the clouds. The ground is still parched, the trees half blackened by the wildfires of the summer, while the remaining bark is a soft ivory like the leather in this Euro market test car, one of four examples that Volkswagen brought over with a manual transmission.

In my rearview mirror, the black and white Expedition from the San Diego Country Sherrif’s office fades away over the crest, and the two point oh tee mill pulls the car closer to 100 mph, exhibiting the kind of top-end torque that’s absent from its front-drive GTI sibling. But the 6-speed manual gearbox is the same, and all I can think is how much I’d rather have the DSG.

(Read More…)

By on November 20, 2014

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Despite teasing us with the Volkswagen Golf R station wagon, it’s pretty clear that we aren’t going to get it in North America. A standard Golf R costs a hair under $37,000, and nobody is going to pay that much for the wagon version (and before you protest, remember that 3 people on the internet does not make a business case for a new vehicle line). But maybe VW of America can meet us half way.

(Read More…)

By on November 18, 2014

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After teasing us with a “concept” at the New York Auto Show, Volkswagen is debuting a production of the Golf R wagon – but we may not get it in North America.

(Read More…)

By on May 22, 2014

volkswagen-golf-r-wagon-spy-photo-03

We may not be clear on whether the Volkswagen Golf wagon will get all-wheel drive in North America, but it looks like VW is hard at work on an R version of the Golf wagon.

(Read More…)

By on March 26, 2014

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The wagon you’re looking at is actually not an enthusiast’s dream. It’s not a diesel, nor rear-drive. It may not have a manual, either. But it’s still a tasty bit of forbidden fruit.

(Read More…)

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