By on October 1, 2015

2015VolkswagenGolfR_(1_of_1)

2015 Volkswagen Golf R

2-liter DOHC I-4, turbocharged, variable intake and exhaust timing, variable
exhaust-valve lift (292 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm; 280 pounds-feet of torque @ 1,800 rpm)

6-speed DSG automatic transmission

23 city/30 highway/26 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

24 mpg on the 60/40 city/hwy, 45 percent boot-full of throttle everywhere (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: Reflex Silver Metallic paint, Titan Black Leather interior; 6-speed DSG automatic transmission.

Base Price (Golf R):
$37,415*
As Tested Price:
$37,415*

* All prices include $820 destination fee.

Like walking in on your parents on a Saturday night, let’s take a minute to get this situation up to comfortable.

Volkswagen is in dire straits; there are no other words for it. For abusing consumer confidence and lying to the federal government, the German automaker will have to pay billions — and lose tens of billions more in repairs, buybacks, lawsuit payouts and expensive public mea culpas — before they can sniff legitimacy.

For lying and cheating their way through emissions standards with their diesel cars, anyone who has gone for a run in a metro area north of the Mason Dixon line in December for the last 10 years has a legitimate gripe against Volkswagen.

I won’t bury the lede here either: The 2015 Golf R isn’t the type of car that could forgive and forget all indiscretions, either. It’s too hard, too narrow and too expensive to be fit for mass-market consumption. It’s not the car that VW can ride through the rough stuff, mostly because it feels on the inside like it’s riding in a paint shaker.

But every atomic cloud has a silver lining.

For all that we’ve heard and read about Volkswagen over the last week, the larger picture remains: 4 out of 5 Volkswagen cars sold aren’t diesels, and as the world’s second-largest automaker (for now) there are a lot of cars that Volkswagen could talk about.

And we’re talking about the Golf R, and talk we shall.

2015VolkswagenGolfR_(10_of_11)

Exterior
The seventh-generation Golf isn’t sneaking up on anyone, anymore. The compact exterior manages to give way to a spacious interior (they can’t cheat that) and the five-door Golf manages to be efficient like minute rice and just as interesting.

The R in Golf R may stand for “Reserved” and it shows. The 18-inch wheels, 0.8-inch lower stance and quad tailpipes are all that really give it away from its GTI brother. Admittedly, that’s quite a bit for Volkswagen, but if you’re looking for WRX STI-high spoilers off the deck and massive hood scoops, you’ve got the wrong car company, partner.

2015VolkswagenGolfR_(6_of_11)

The Golf R integrates a unique front fascia and rear diffuser, black side mirror caps and side skirts, for the Golf R. It’s best contributions are U-shaped LED daytime running lamps and those fantastic wheels that are understated, but expressive. The badging and larger intakes are all fine and well, but it’s the wheels that make the Golf R interesting.

2015VolkswagenGolfR_(8_of_11)

It’s possible to get the Golf R with 19-inch alloys but that wouldn’t be smart for two reasons. First, the 18-inch rubbers fill the wheel wells perfectly, and second, the 18-inchers still deliver a spine shattering ride. Any thinner rubber and you’d better have the chiro on speed-dial.

2015VolkswagenGolfR_(15_of_8)Interior
For starters, the Golf R is not a small car. The Golf R, based on a seventh-generation Golf, is impossibly big inside and roomy enough for four adults — I can’t believe I just said that. Recently out of a four-door Mini Cooper S, I can report that the Golf R feels like the Taj Mahal inside comparatively — even though its tech is a little Bombay. Its 35.6 inches of rear legroom is more than an Infiniti QX50 — even after that car stretched its wheelbase 3.2 inches for 4 more inches of legroom.

The Golf R’s 22.8 cubes of cargo room is enormous considering many of its VW platform mates stuff much less in their trunks — ahem, Jetta.

2015VolkswagenGolfR_(16_of_8)

Inside, the Golf’s black hides and blue accents are subtly different than the rest of the Volkswagen lineup; only the R gets the blue treatment — and no plaid. The feeling inside the Golf R is much more premium than a base Golf, and somehow more aesthetically pleasing in a functional way than a comparable Audi TT or S3. Both those cars suffer from economy of scale, while the Golf R doesn’t necessarily run from its budget roots — rather it improves upon them.

Infotainment
That is, until you fumble with the Golf R’s infotainment system. Admittedly, it’s going away, and the proprietary connector cable is gone for 2016 — but eeek, it’s not friendly. Pairing a phone is simple enough, but the display and connectivity features are woefully outdated.

Thankfully, you could do without the radio if you’re willing to pipe in the (somewhat manufactured) engine noises from the Golf R. As the revs swell to 6,000 rpm, the interior cabin is filled with raspy notes from the busy four. It’s not unnerving, but the car’s serious horsepower is equally matched with a serious call: pay attention.

2015VolkswagenGolfR_(19_of_8)

Powertrain
The only all-wheel drive Golf, stuffed with a 2-liter turbocharged four cylinder that swells to 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, is a feat of automotive engineering — with honesty. The specs are impressive: nearly 300 horsepower, shifted through a competent 6-speed dual-clutch automatic, is planted to four corners and results in a run up to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. (For 2015, the Golf R is a DSG-only affair. If you want to row your own, buy a 2016.)

2015VolkswagenGolfR_(11_of_11)

The Golf R competes in rarified air for enthusiasts in upper tax income brackets starting at just over $35,000 — same as the Subaru WRX STI and the incoming Ford Focus RS — and can nudge nearly $40,000 out the door in top trim. That’s a lot of money to ask — especially considering the Golf GTI is $10,000 less — but loyalty and logic rarely intersect.

For what its worth, Volkswagen does its best to rationalize the purchase. The Golf R’s Haldex all-wheel drive package is exclusive to that car alone. And the Golf R is nearly an inch lower to maximize a lower center of gravity in full-load cornering. And even the most potent GTI falls 72 horsepower short of the Golf R’s mood-altering 292 ponies underneath its square hood. For many people, spending that much on a “small” car would be heresy; for VW diehards, owning the pinnacle of Golfs is an affirmation of faith.

The Golf R can be fitted with an optional Dynamic Chassis Control system that adds electronically variable settings to the four corners for additional grip. The whole system adds more than $2,500 to the bottom line and is largely for track day warriors only. It comes with those aforementioned 19-inch rubber donuts that would be murderous on regular pavement.

2015VolkswagenGolfR_(2_of_11)

Drive
In reality, the Golf R is serious enough without DCC. Driving the Golf R is a demanding, challenging experience. Overcoming the car’s bias to understeer in hard cornering is a feat in itself, and VW engineers made great strides to keep the chassis compliant and neutral despite planting more than 60 percent of its weight over the front axle.

2015VolkswagenGolfR_(4_of_11)Understeer can be induced, naturally, but the brake management’s software kicks in to tap its inside brakes to rotate the car into the corner. The effect is mind blowing — a small Golf pulling nearly 1g of lateral grip is devilishly fun.

But the revelation found in the Golf R is one concerning the Golf GTI instead. The Golf R’s might and stiff ride underscore how good the Golf GTI can be in normal circumstances. The Golf R turns up the wick on seriousness, and the GTI just feels fun.

And “fun” at VW right now is more awkward than meeting your father’s mistress for the first time. I hope it doesn’t stay like that for long.

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87 Comments on “2015 Volkswagen Golf R Review – Let’s Get Serious...”


  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    Straits. Dire straits. The band had it correct.

  • avatar

    The Golf R’s true environmental impact is rated between coal-fired power plant and Fukishima water waste.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I wonder if there is a 17 in wheel that would fit to try to get some sidewall on the dang tire.

    Otherwise impressive but I think I’d rather have a GTI with an honest to god 6 speed manual trans.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      17s will fit. 16s won’t clear the calipers if someone is looking for winter tires. I’d prefer 16″ steelies for winter duty, but that isn’t happening on this or the Focus RS.

    • 0 avatar
      EAF

      +1 on Dan’s manual transmission point. I *heard* this DSG will be a high maintenance item with recommended fluid changes every 10k miles. Probably to help the DSG cope with torque levels it was not designed for?

      I look forward to a Focus RS review!!!

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Hey I just think if the car is designed for sport then it ought to be involving as possible of the driver…

        You know unless your day job is being a bus driver who eats burritos while on the clock.

      • 0 avatar
        sproc

        I just looked up the maintenance schedule. The DSG service in the R is still at 40k mi intervals just like most other DSGs. As to wheels, it’s a shame you can’t go to 16 for the winter, but 17 is better than nothing.

        I might be tempted by a ’16 with the new infotainment, but I’m still mulling over whether no sunroof or spare is a deal breaker. The GTI PP is still spectacularly capable in real world driving.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        DSG is at 40K. It isn’t a difficult service to do yourself, you just have to buy the tools. Otherwise, it costs anywhere from $300-$600 in addition to the expensive 40K mile maintenance. I don’t like the added cost, but many people don’t seem to care. I could justify it more on this car vs a $21K Jetta.

      • 0 avatar
        palincss

        I believe that’s every 40,000 miles, not every 10,000.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I like the specific “samurai sword” wheel design on the R. That’s what I’ve decided it’s called.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Does VW have a “cutting implement” series of wheels. The wheels on the GTI I owned resembled Cuisinart food processor blades.

        BTW, I swear my C-Max has the same wheels as my 2008 Jetta Wolfsburg. Ford must have got a deal on old VW wheels. I wouldn’t put it past them.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I always liked these GTI wheels, especially. They’re like a cheese grater, if we’re doing cutting devices.

          http://preview.netcarshow.com/Volkswagen-Golf_GTI-2004-1600-06.jpg

          Is that the one you owned? I forget your year.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Yeah. That’s the wheels. I owned a 2009 GTI. I also owned an 2006 Jetta, 2008 R32, and a 2008 Jetta Wolfsburg.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I can feel a lot of past trauma in your life, suddenly.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            2006 Jetta with the 2.5L and 5-speed = Good. No issues besides a burnt out headlight.

            2009 GTI with DSG = Kinda good. At 45K miles, it felt like it was going to fall apart though. Burnt out two fog lights and one headlight. Mechatronic unit replaced.

            2008 Jetta Wolfsburg 2.0T DSG = More good than bad in first two years. Became a POS way too early. Weird electric problems. Creaky before 40K miles. Headlights loved to not work. Would often turn on after a restart. Mechatronic unit and other transmissions parts replaced.

            2008 R32 = EVIL. Loved to vaporlock. I leased it for super cheap and sold it to someone from the Midwest. It’s engine did not like 110+ temps in AZ. Received new transmission under warranty.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            I didn’t even think vapor lock happened on cars made after, like, 1985 or something. Shows what I know.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Stories like this and it amazes me VAG is still in business.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I kept buying VWs because despite issues, I would lease for two years (never had a payment higher than $280), and then sell it and make a couple grand.

            The vapor lock on R32s pretty much only happened at elevation with high temps. I lived at basically 3000 ft and it was over 100 in the summer all the time.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            So now are you done with VW for good?

            You’d buy out the lease at the end and still make money selling it?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I’d buy out before the end of lease. Whenever the private party value was greater than the buyout. For example, my buyout on me Wolfsburg 20-some months in was $15.K. I sold it for almost $18K.

            The most I made was on the R32. There were incentives that priced it like the GTI. I sold it in less than a year and made $3000 if you include my payments.

            I am done with VW because I don’t think I can make money flipping their leases anymore. I did this at a time when new car sales were terrible and credit was tough for some people. I’d never own one out of warranty. Scary.

            Now I’m at a point that I don’t want small cars after the C-Max. My next car will most likely be a Continental, Mustang, or possibly a used CT6 (if a V6 is an option). I’d consider a Caddy, but I can’t get a good engine without it being all racy. I don’t want to race anyone Cadillac!

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Good point – 08 and 09 were hard-to-get money times. Not so difficult now.

            Yay tax-free profit!

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Yeah, it was a weird time. I owned multiple VWs at a time because they’d finance me and I could flip them. I was like the house flipper people that ruined the housing industry. Once I got married, my wife didn’t want to deal with another VW hassle every few months. The R32 vaporlocked on her in Phoenix and the VW dealer came and got her. They let her drive a Touareg for two weeks while they fixed it.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            What is it with VWs and light bulbs? I’d like to know the technical explanation for why they burn so many out.

            One kind of amazing thing about my G8 GXP is that it did not burn out a single light bulb, anywhere on the car, in six years and four months of ownership. Every filament bulb in the thing when I sold it was OEM. (A CHMSL LED was replaced under warranty, though.)

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Dal-

            I’m not sure, but I have some ideas. MkVs eat through light bulbs at an alarming rate. I have never replaced a light bulb on a non VAG vehicle. When I replaced the troublesome fog lights on my GTI, I did so with the Euro versions. You could tell the difference in quality between the Euro fogs and the American market ones. The European ones were heavier and appeared to be made with tighter tolerances. I tend to think that VW skimps on component quality for the US market.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I was going to say that $37k for a Golf is a lot of money, but 4.5 seconds to 60 is no joke. I couldn’t stand the harsh ride and sounds.

    How’s the resale on these things?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Good because rare.

    • 0 avatar
      Charlie84

      I’d say that re-sale for VWs is largely up-in-the-air, post-dieselgate. However, in the event that this somehow blows over or R-model residuals are unaffected, VW’s R cars have a long track record of excellent re-sale. The fanboys lust after these relatively uncommon cars, so you can expect to field multiple offers if priced reasonably.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        The people buying the R are -very- aware of what they’re getting, and the fact that the R is never a diesel makes me believe prices for that model are not subject to being affected.

        The GTI will not be affected either.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          So much for that GTD the diesel mafia was getting boner for…

          We’ll get that after Ford brings over the Fusion wagon with a turbocharged Coyote.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I knew that GTD wasn’t happening when they announced it. Sort of like every other rando thing they tease people with.

            That T-top coupe SUV.
            The W12 Golf exercise.
            Etc

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Didn’t the MkVI have a GTD variant sold in N/A?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            No GTD in N/A. We had a MkV Jetta TDI Cup that was close to a GLI with an oil burner. No big HP diesel though.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Like the Chevy SS: another car that’s interesting to read about but can only be bought by insiders or with a whole lot of hard work. Good luck finding one in the color and configuration you want, or finding a dealer who can be bothered to work with you to get one. They get much better return on their time selling the regular Golfs already on the lot to the uninformed.

    Aren’t those the 19s on the photo car? They look bigger than the 18s you find on regular GTIs.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Performance sure sells and there is no denying that this is a quick car. But for 37 large I would have a real hard time with the 10 year old styling, the plain austere interior, those ridiculous rubber band wheels the slam bang ride and the constant assault to my ear drums.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Due to your complaints, you’re too old for this car. :)

    • 0 avatar
      wrxtasy

      37 large buys you possibly the most comprehensive performance car available at any price- and I’m not even a VW fanboy. My time in the last-gen was pure magic, and I’m sure you could justify the spending after an afternoon in one.
      That is, if it doesnt turn your geriatric old bones to dust.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    Much talk about the 18″ vs. 19″ wheels and punishing ride and understeer, but without having driven a model with DCC and 19″ wheels it doesn’t seem Truthful about this Car to say avoid 19s at all cost. Butt for every seat, and whatnot. A quick Google finds that the competitive blog that gawks too much drove both with and without DCC Golf Rs and for less than quantified reasons emphatically recommended the DCC package.

    Note I’m far from a VW fanboy and comment only to keep things honest around here.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      What annoys me the most about that is to get DCC, you must also get the 19″ wheels. Even if there were no price break, I would want get DCC and down-spec to the 18″ wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I think on most GTIs and Golf Rs the smart thing to do is minus size the wheels. Even if you have to do it aftermarket, someone wants you new take offs.

      17s are ideal on the GTI, and typically lighter.

  • avatar
    KevinC

    The US-spec Golf R comes with 19’s, even on the base model. Pretty sure those are 19’s in the pictures too.

  • avatar
    Fonzy

    I had the chance to purchase the base model R a few weeks ago that stickers at 36K. They were offering the car at invoice because I was a Costco member. Beautiful car, but I didn’t need AWD for my daily driver. They say that most are spoken for before they even hit the lot, but I’ve seen two still for sale around me.

    I decided to go with the GTI with performance pack 6MT. With the APR Stage 1 tune, I can get 316hp. It would still be a few thousand dollars less than the R.

    The R is a better, but cheaper S3. I wouldn’t get the DCC if buying though. I heard its a nightmare after warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I think the R is an “almost” purchase for a lot of people out there. Even though it’s one of the coolest cars out there, I think our American mindset kicks in and we just find it difficult to part with near to $40K for a subcompact hatchback, however nice. I myself almost purchased a blue R early this year, but then wound up doing the newer SportWagen TDI, which stickered at some $7K less.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I’m no fan of AWD, but I do feel that once you get to this power and torque level in a car based on a FWD family car chassis, you probably do “need” it. Just to keep the thing from being totally unmanageable.

      I do think the price premium for this car over a GTI is ridiculous. I could see $5K for AWD and more boost, but not $10K+.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Agree RE: price premium. It’s entirely too expensive, just because they -can- charge that much. The GTI is too expensive too, but only a little bit. And I’ll give that a pass because it’s a legendary hot hatch name.

      • 0 avatar
        Fonzy

        I agree that AWD would help at this level of power and torque.

        The GTI performance pack comes with a VAQ front limited-slip differential lock which I thought was a better deal than spending the extra $ for the R.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      There is no settling with a GTI PP. The MKVII GTI is such a competent car for such a reasonable price that you really have to love the R or require AWD for the R to make sense over a GTI, IMO. The MKVII took everything great about the MKV that I owned/loved/hated and made it better. If they’d get the reliability up to snuff, I’d be hard pressed to buy anything else. The current GTI is very deserving of the accolades.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      “I wouldn’t get the DCC if buying though. I heard its a nightmare after warranty.”

      Heard from who? The car has only been available since early this year, and I’m not sure DCC was available with the first shipments. Does VW use it on other cars that have been around longer?

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I have always liked the idea of an AWD Golf, in the same way that I like AWD Audi hatches, or a (doesn’t exist) Soul with AWD and off-road trim.

    But it’s too hard for daily use, wouldn’t be good in snow or etc because it’s so low, and too expensive for a little Golf hatch. So I’d end up at MAX-GOLF being = to GTI. In red, and with plaid.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Well, they’ll sell the AWD and slightly lifted version of the Golf SportWagen next year as the Golf Alltrack. It should be cheaper than the R.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        That’s a good point. Though it’s unfortunate that it’ll be a wagon form rather than hatch, I’m sure it’s a better compromise than this to get AWD on a Golf.

        That being said, I think it’ll just satisfy the few people who like the A4 Allroad, but find the price RIDICULOUS (which it is).

        Final thought: I think the SportWagen name should not have existed, and/or go away to be replaced with Golf-L or Golf-W.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    As far as the U-shaped LEDs, the regular Golf, Golf SportWagen and GTI with the Lighting Package (which mine has) also have the U shaped DRLs, but only the ones on the outside. Mine has the inner “U”s, but they don’t light up like they do on the Golf R. Also, I think the Golf R has LED indicators, as well as a different console (shared with the Euro model) that includes a powered parking brake and a sliding cover for the cupholders.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Ive always liked the two generations of the R32 more than the Golf R.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    The author might have bothered to make clear that the US model 2015 Golf R came in two specs:
    High – Dynamic Chassis Control/Nav, 19″ wheels, some other goodies like corner headlight illumination
    Base – 18″ wheels, without those other goodies
    and that the test model was the Base version. In theory you could get DSG or Manual on either, but in practice they were all DSG for 2015 here, and most were the High spec. The butt ugly Cadiz wheels are the same (other than diameter) for both specs. The car shown must be from the VW press fleet, since its Reflex Silver colour isn’t offered in the US market.

    If you’re going to pay close to 40 grand for a (very) hot hatch, it’s a false economy not to buy the High spec version. There are several reasons for that, but the overwhelming one is the DCC, which provides three cockpit selectable settings for the shocks. Even with the 19″ wheels the ride is very decent in either Comfort or Normal, and surprisingly un-punishing in Race.

    I picked my 2015 DCC/Nav version up in Texas and drove home to Indiana in a day and a half. It was very comfortable for a long journey; I could happily have driven another 1200 miles. And that was on the original 19″ wheels, which have since been swapped for something less offensive in an 18″ size.

    As a lifelong manual transmission driver I find the DSG sharp and effective. The electric steering is a bit lifeless until you load it up with some lateral g-force. Acceleration is ridiculously good, and the DSG allows you to crack off 0-60 runs in the high 4-second range at will. Fortunately the brakes are correspondingly good, with generous 345mm diameter rotors up front.

    Best of all the while package it totally usable on an everyday basis. Even my non-enthusiast wife likes driving it – although not quite for the same reasons that I do.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      Thanks, great follow-up! I’m leaning the same way on a ’16. When you downsized the rims, did you go aftermarket or find a set of Cadiz take-offs?

      • 0 avatar
        NeilM

        @sproc: I bought 18″ aftermarket wheels to suit my taste. The originals, with their tires, went on eBay, which is not a recipe for financial gain. I ended up about a grand in the hole on the swap, but it was worth it. Some owners store their originals to put back on the car at resale, but between snows and track tires I’ve got too many wheels in the garage already.

        @ Arminius: Yes, your summary is exactly right, and in fact that’s how I arrived at the R. I’d been looking at a loaded GTI, at which point the step up to an R all of a sudden becomes very attractive.

        I also forgot to mention the Fender branded sound system that came with my High spec R. Although the interface is a bit clunky, the sound quality is pretty good. And as John Yossarian’s post points out, it’s been much improved for the 2016 MY.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Nice counter point on DCC and the ride. I had thought DCC just gave you options, and wasn’t something targeting track rats. It is odd that VW bundles it with the 19″ wheels, but I find their options bundling on the GTI infuriating, so of course the R would be more of the same.

  • avatar
    Frylock350

    Interesting vehicle, though at $37k I’d rather pick up a Camaro SS with a proper world-class RWD chassis and a manual transmission. I’m not a fan of how AWD drivetrains subjectively feel, I prefer RWD. Obviously I haven’t driven a new Camaro, but given its ATS chassis and the praise that chassis has garnered, I’m very hopeful. Especially since the Camaro is allowed to sacrifice luxury feel for more performance. I also don’t think I could buy a sports car that I couldn’t row my own.

    I’d like to see a comparison of this with Subaru’s STi or even a 335 or ATS.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      A comparison between a Golf R and an ATS or 335i is unlikely. But I’m sure there will be a nice comparison between the Golf R, WRX STi and Ford’s new Focus RS, which should arrive on our shores soon.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Well, the Camaro SS is not a competitor, nor is anything else really other than the STI or the Focus ST.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        I’ve read and heard elsewhere (and possibly here) that buyers often shop based on price, and not necessarily functional requirements.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          Agreed, just because two cars arent well matched on paper (coupe vs. 5 door hatch, rwd vs. awd) doesnt mean they arent cross shopped. Being close in price and with a similar sporty disposition makes it even more likely.

      • 0 avatar
        Frylock350

        The Camaro SS isn’t a similar vehicle in engineering, but it is in mission; a vehicle with serious sporting intentions. Most consumers shop based on price (you’ll see pony cars cross shopped with Silverados and Jeeps) rather than market segment. if I have $37k to drop on a performance vehicle the Camaro SS gets my money because of its chassis, stick and RWD drivetrain.

  • avatar
    JMII

    My brother has one of these, but the ’14 model which was available with a manual. He ran 17″s on the track for awhile but has upgraded to Audi TT RS brakes which will only clear with the 18″s. I agree 19″s would be a mistake on this car, it looks and rides fine on the 18″. My brother has applied the APR Stage 1+ tune, suspension bits and is adding a 4 point racing harness. The car is FAST! After a few hot laps on the track and we find Camaro owners walking into our garage space trying to figure out how a “Golf” just blew them off the road. Compared to my Z I think the VeeDub rides less harsh plus its way quieter for sure. The turbo lag and understeer are still there compared to my N/A RWD Nissan, but the VW has a 2-3 second advantage on the track with AWD and turbo power. The traction control has three settings which allows for enough wiggle room to make thing entertaining. Make no mistake: this car is a stealth track day weapon. I don’t think there is another 4 door hatch that can hang with it. And many so called sports cars (like my Z) are also left in the rear view mirror wondering what just happened. The stocks brakes are up to the task but my brother is really pushing his hard (he is an instructor) so he upgraded anyway. Grant he is a huge VeeDub fan boy but its hard to fault this car. He previously owned a 337 GTI which he flipped off lease and actually made money. It sold in just 3 days. These limited edition VWs hold their value, a quick trip to the Vortex forum will yield a sale as well as everything you need to know and then some.

  • avatar
    john yossarian

    I’ve had my 2016 Golf R for almost two months now. The new entertainment system is MUCH better, with a higher resolution screen. With the addition of Carplay and Android Auto I didn’t feel the need to get the DCC/NAV package. I’m really happy with the 6-speed manual, though I wouldn’t have minded the DSG if they had it in stock.

    Took a while to find a dealer that would do MSRP. At $36,500 it isn’t a bad deal, but I wouldn’t pay $40k for the fully loaded car.

    And it’s fun having a unique car, especially in a city full of 3 series and C classes.

  • avatar
    peeryog

    You mention the QX50. I own its previous nameplate, the EX37. I have more power (320 something or other), one extra gear, hatchback, similar size (well, at a quick glance), smaller inside, but if I can break 0-60 in 5.5 seconds I am having an unprecedented day. This is quite impressive.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I’m a stretch QX50 looker… with the extra rear-seat room, possibly a great car for my wife. But it’s separated from the Golf R by quite a lot of weight, along with additional frontal area from the height.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    Perhaps VW envisions the R as a street-legal track car? Still, odd that it under-steers so much given that most enthusiasts prefer over-steer/”drift”.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    “The Golf R’s 22.8 cubes of cargo room is enormous considering many of its VW platform mates stuff much less in their trunks — ahem, Jetta.”

    I thought the Jetta wasn’t on MQB yet.

    I guess that’s beside the point anyway. On paper at least (I haven’t sat in one) the MKVII Golf has amazing packaging. The QX50 that Aaron mentioned is hilariously space inefficient by comparison. 28.5″ of rear legroom in an SUV measuring 15″ longer than the Golf, with a 110″ wheelbase! It also has less cargo space, seats up or down. And it’s almost 800lbs heavier than a base Golf. I know SUVs are more about ride/seat height and no one buying them looks at things like this, but that’s embarrassing.

    • 0 avatar
      DrSandman

      I’m sorry; I just don’t believe that a Golf can store 22.8 cu.ft. in the trunk, and a Jetta can store roughly 2/3 that. The car is like 2 feet shorter!

      Will some enterprising journalist count the number of volleyballs (or soccerballs, or softballs, or widgets) that can be stuffed in a hatchback and in a sedan and do an actual comparison?

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Or maybe something useful, like luggage :-). TTAC’s Alex Dykes throws 26″ roller bags in every car he tests.

        I don’t know how the cargo area is measured to get that 22.8 cu.ft, but as another hatchback, the QX50 that I compared the Golf to has the same opportunity to cheat vertically.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        I do agree that 22.8 cu.ft. is suspicious; they probably measure to the roof, rather than the cargo cover.

  • avatar
    Arminius

    Former GTI owner looking hard at a ’16 Golf R. First the “$10K” difference between the GTI and Golf R has to stop. The difference in features between the base GTI and R is huge. Load up a GTI with all options including DSG and PP and you are at $36.8K. A fully optioned R is $40K. For the $3.2K difference you get AWD, DCC and a bunch more of go fast bits. Having owned a GTI I can attest that one of the biggest weaknesses of the GTI was putting all the power to the ground. The R takes care of that with AWD. Net/net: at the end of the day you get a practical daily driver that can seat 5, go 0-60 in the high/mid 4 sec range with decent gas mileage. A $800 APR tune and there are few cars in the same price range that will put this to shame on the road or track.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    Nice article for VW after the last few weeks. The GTI will take 16 wheels but the “R” has larger calipers. I use 16 inch Audi with snows on my GTI every winter. The DSG change every 40,000 miles costs about $100.00 in parts oil, filter washers and a simple change kit. Takes about 45 minutes. I drove stick all my life but being retired and driving into NYC for about 40 years i wanted a change. The DSG is great. You can beat the stick every time. Most of my driving is local now and i love how the car drives. Speaking about light bulbs in all the years i drove VW’s i only had to replace one headlight. When my Father-in-law died years ago i cleaned out his garage and he must have had the largest collection of automobile light bulbs in the world. i have cartons of them. This from a man who drove Volvo, Subaru, Saturn and his last car a Toyota RAV4. If anyone needs bulbs let me know.

  • avatar
    RockyM

    I’ve been driving a ’10 GTI for over 5 years now. Great car. I have modified the car to a Stage 2 and it has been very reliable and a lot of fun, when traction isn’t an issue. I would love to trade up to an R; however, it is nearly impossible to get one. Even my service advisor at the dealer can’t get one. And they are not available via Euro delivery either. Any advice?

  • avatar
    rreichar

    I drove a 2015 R at my local dealer here in central Texas. The car was already sold but I was impressed enough that I am considering ordering a 2016. The one I drove was the upscale model with the DCC and to me the ride was reasonable in comfort mode. I agree with NeilM that the upscale model is the way to go. That’s the only way to get the Fender audio system so that’s a no brainier to me. The new infotainment system looks great but I haven’t seen any reviews yet. My big question is manual or DSG. I liked the DSG that I drove and I get that it is faster but I bet the manual is more fun.

  • avatar
    Power6

    How i know a car is my kind of car…if the journo says it rides too hard. Im leery about the golf R though since other reviews point out it is a bit soft compared the STI. I have a feeling the greater range of the DCC suspension gives both better handling and ride along with the ability to flip a switch to suit the mood.

    To say the DCC is for track rats with no actual experience is just a misunderstandjng about what adjustable shock technology is supposed to do vs a well tuned but ultimately single mode damper.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    Like Subaru STI, VW Golf R’s track-oriented fun, but not so great as daily driver: stiff ride (better than STI, though), scrape underside on road curbs when parking, having lo-profile tires/wheels damaged by potholes/road ruts. AWD appears to be slip-grip system, not full-time (could explain tendency towards understeer). While DSG offers better performance, Manual trans will be preferred choice.

  • avatar
    Svoboda123

    Another way the Golf R would probably get cross-shopped is for people who want hatch/wagon utility, AWD (snow country) and sporting nature (which clearly excludes the hateful Utes). The models left in the U.S. that have that short list of 3 common needs is pathetically short:
    -BMW 3 wagon with sport package
    -Volvo V60 T6 R
    -Focus R (not yet)
    And, um,um, that’s it! Nice list. Of course there are the plastic-clad “look how super outdoorsy I am” crossovers:
    – Allroad
    – Volvo XC60
    – Golf Lifted Wagon (soon, maybe)
    – Mini Countryman
    -Outback

    And the recently deceased soldiers:
    -WRX/STI
    -Audi wagon/A3 Hatch
    -Cadillac

    And the luxury ones that never were sporty:
    -Merc E-Class
    -Acura

    It does seem nuts to buy a loaded GTI with the R only a small step up in cost. Factoring in resale it’s hard to imagine it would end up costing much if anything more. But a lesser GTI is a good $8-10k cheaper. And while a true mechanical LSD and FWD cannot beat AWD, for street driving, even in snow, it comes damn close.

    So I bought the GTI S with cloth (first non-leather I’ve had since Scirocco S Recaros 25 years ago. Love them, actually), PP, lighting and adjustable dampers for $28k out the door. Love the car. If I had close to $40k to burn sure the R is neat. But I think a CPO 328i Wagon with sport would get my money first, even if you can’t get a manual trans.

  • avatar
    PaulD

    As far as the ride, either the transport blocks were left in the suspension by whoever prepped the car, or the reviewer is a soft little flower. The ride isn’t stiff.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “or the reviewer is a soft little flower.”

      Heh… ass-macho enters the online car community. The influence of general gay ascendancy, I should think.

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