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.

That the Golf R costs substantially more than a similarly equipped four-door GTI should come as no surprise. On Volkswagen USA products that offer optional all-wheel-drive, namely the Tiguan, it’s a $1,975 option. (All-wheel-drive is a $2,100 option on the Audi Q3 and A4, the only Audis which the addition of Quattro isn’t linked to an engine or transmission upgrade.)

In other words, an all-wheel-drive GTI, if such a thing existed, would cost $28,390, cutting the difference between the GTI and R down to $8,080.

2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI side, Image: © 2014 Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

But that basic four-door Golf GTI isn’t just missing all-wheel-drive. The equipment list is missing automatic climate control, keyless access, and a power driver’s seat. Not until you upgrade to a Golf GTI SE with the Performance Package — a car which has some features the basic Golf R doesn’t but lacks some of the Golf R’s components — do the spec sheets begin to appear more similar. In that case, factoring in the $1,975 cost of the GTI’s faux-AWD, the price difference falls to only $3,555.

$3,555 for an additional 72 horsepower? I’ll take it, particularly since the EPA’s official fuel economy ratings show little difference between the pair, especially since our real world tests resulted in greater consumption with the GTI.

72 horsepower is just a number, but it’s a number that can be experienced both in everyday driving and backroad barnstorming. To be clear, the GTI is by all accounts an impressive device. In fact, it’s a car I nominated for TTAC’s 10 Best Automobiles Today list earlier this month. But that was before I drove the latest Golf R, before it became clear that the GTI’s turbo lag is, by way of comparison, more than a little noticeable. That was before I fell for the Golf R’s raucous (or subdued) engine note. Before I enjoyed switching between the Golf R’s thoroughly differentiated comfort and sport damping modes depending on the road and the age of my passengers. Before I basked in the sober glow of the Golf R’s sleeper looks — the GTI’s red exterior bits caused passersby to notice that car more than the Golf R. I nominated the GTI before I tossed this 19-inch-shod Golf R into a corner and rediscovered the GTI’s quick steering — 2.1 turns lock to lock — only with greater bite.

The 2016 Volkswagen Golf R isn’t perfect. The six-speed manual transmission integrates you into the process and helps you maximize power and opportunity in the real world, but it’s far from the most precise shifter. Like the Golf on which it’s obviously based, the R doesn’t offer the kind of rear seat legroom that’ll be available in a Honda Civic Type R hatchback. And given the price point, a power passenger seat would be nice.

The Golf R is nevertheless an exceptionally well-rounded package for the money. The performance above and beyond the GTI is tangible right from the get-go. It looks the business. It’s more winter-friendly. It’s multiple cars in one, depending on the way you configure and individualize the DCC setup.

2015 Audi S3 blue

The Golf R’s DCC/Driving Mode selector allows its driver to skip past Comfort, Normal, and Race to install a personalized mish-mash of damping, steering, engine, adaptive cruise control, front lighting, and interior engine sound. Familiar? The Audi S3 can do that, too, only you manipulate those adjustments though S3’s superior Audi MMI system.

Just how superior is the S3 overall? The Audi S3 is a stunning piece of kit, one of my favourite cars from my $2.2 million fleet in 2015, but the S3’s cabin doesn’t feel a cut above the Golf R’s. Under the gun, the S3’s standard two-pedal direct-shift gearbox makes it the quicker car, I’m sure. However, there’s palpable shift lag in lower gears at low revs in daily driving at six-tenths in the S3 that isn’t felt in a manual-shift Golf R, which comes standard with a manual transmission Audi doesn’t even offer.

The S3’s four-ring badge also garners attention in a way the Golf R can’t. Sure, the Volkswagen cognoscenti will know all about the R, but I didn’t get a single question about the Golf from my neighbors, none of whom seemed to recognize that underneath its clothes, this was the same car that caused them to go weak in the knees when it wore an Audi badge a year ago. There’s a car buyer who wants his neighbors to notice his new car’s logo, to guess at the price he paid, to ask how he was promoted at such a young age. For that buyer, the S3 may well be the answer. But I drive a Honda Odyssey, so, you know, I’m not that guy.

In the end, the Golf R’s victory over the GTI comes down to performance. As for the Golf R’s victory over its Audi S3 twin, well, that’s a hatchback issue. The Golf R offers 85-percent more cargo capacity than the Audi S3. With the rear seats folded, the Golf R’s 52.7-cubic-foot cargo area is very nearly as large as the Tiguan’s.

With greater affordability and availability, Volkswagen USA reported 7,085 GTI sales in the first four months of 2016, nearly four times greater than the Golf R’s 1,851-unit performance. Audi doesn’t release a breakdown of A3/S3 sales, but the percentages provided more than a year ago suggest approximately 15 percent of the A3s sold in America are S3 sedans, or about 1,550 sales so far this year. To be honest, I wish my driveway held one of the 7,085, one of the 1,851, and one of the 1,550.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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74 Comments on “GTI or S3? Nah, It’s Easy To Make The Case For The 2016 Volkswagen Golf R...”


  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Notably, the Golf R and the e-Golf are the only members of the Golf family still assembled in Deutschland for the American market; the rest are made in Puebla, Mexico. So the Golf R and e-Golf employ some of the Euro-market parts, including a cleaner center console with an electronic parking brake switch and covered cupholders. They also have headlights that are nicer than even the optional bi-xenon units in the GTI, Golf and Golf SportWagen…which have two LED signature lamps on each side (instead of one), and LED indicators. I think the Golf R and e-Golf also include LED tail lamps.

    I very nearly bought a Lapiz Blue Metallic Golf R. I regret not doing so quite often.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      Hilariously though, one thing the Golf R does lack is an opening center console. Not sure if that was fixed in the 2016 models.

      Still wouldn’t turn one down.

      • 0 avatar
        JLGOLDEN

        We have a new Golf R, Lapis Blue. A YouTube tutorial walked us through a (relatively simple) modification to allow the armrest to open, exposing a shallow storage bin. We did this one day one of ownership.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      We don’t get the LED tails, the moonroof, and a few other things. That said, the R would be my pick. Fun car to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      I haven’t driven the Golf R yet, but we just got a Tornado Red 6-speed GTI a few months back. It’s a great car at the $22k we paid. But even with another 72 horsepower I’d have a hard time paying $36k for the platform. A BMW 228 with sport package and leather seems to me to be a better choice up at that price point.

      Or hell, if you don’t need a back seat, you can buy a nice used Porsche 997 for that kind of money. What you might pay extra in maintenance over a brand-new car, you’d more than make up for in lack of depreciation.

      • 0 avatar
        jeanbaptiste

        I imagine these $$ games are played out in people’s heads and are great for internet discussion. When it comes down to the middle class person buying a VW, the GTI’s value proposition is very hard to beat. I don’t know how good the R is but I would have a hard time imagining that it’s $13,000 better. The GTI’s are selling way below MSRP (I got the same one as you for 23,200) but the R’s are not. It’s like paying 50% more for something to get 10% better product.

        Also, it’s not like the base GTI is a bad place to be. No sunroof – A-OK, no power seats? They are partially powered and even that is overkill for a seat that hardly ever needs moving. No dual zone climate? First world problem for sure.

        With VW’s reputation, I’d rather pass on the fat and just get the meat.

        • 0 avatar
          rsfeller

          It’s my opinion that you are not allow to call “first world problems” when discussing luxury or performance cars!!

          With that said your point may be valid for a single guy and a 2nd car but try to have a wife who is 20F warmer or cooler then the rest of society at any given time and you start to see how it can save your marriage. Plus every time she drives my $40k Touareg without memory seats or mirrors I want to choke her out for messing with all my settings just to run down the street! Nope modern cars need these toys to save marriages!!!

        • 0 avatar
          Robbie

          Yes, and the lack of awareness of the real world prices makes this a typical not-of-this-world automotive journalist article…

    • 0 avatar

      Nah, the TDi is the real German deal too, which was a reason why I bought mine….oh wait….

  • avatar
    carguy

    While you’re comparing the Golf R to Audis on the same platform, you may as well put the Audi TTS on that list as well. This then leads to the inevitable conclusion that that either the Golf R is a great bargain or that the TTS is comically overpriced.

    • 0 avatar
      TTCat

      @carguy: The TT S is ridiculously overpriced, and yet, as you might guess, I want one anyway. The TT is a car that either works for you or it doesn’t – They have been nearly flawless daily drivers for me going on 15+ years now, and here in Colorado, nothing else even comes close for my needs.

      If I could get past the “4 door hatch-back” looks of the R, I would seriously consider one, because I am a manual transmission guy, but, I just can’t…

      • 0 avatar
        whynot

        The TT is (and always has been) overpriced in general, if you are looking at it from a performance perspective. You are paying for the look.

        • 0 avatar
          TTCat

          @whynot: The look and the badge.

          The badge I couldn’t care less about, but I admit I love the look (the Mk1 anyway, the Mk2, not so much).

          The performance is a pretty relative issue – I have never tracked them, so I have never cared about them being “track weapons” (which they most certainly are not), but in the real world, and in any kind of weather, I don’t wind up spending much time having to look at the tail-lights of many people – they are plenty fun enough for me…

      • 0 avatar
        carguy

        @TTCat: There is nothing wrong with the TT – it’s a beautiful, snow friendly and surprisingly practical car. However, the “S” version simply doesn’t justify its price tag over the standard model. If you lust after a new TT then the base model is probably the way to go – if you go easy on the options you can get it for around $41K-$42K.

        • 0 avatar
          TTCat

          @carguy: Yeah, the “S” is an extremely iffy proposition for the dollars required, especially since from 0 to about 40 mph, the base TT and S run neck and neck – plus the base 2016 TT is spec for spec better in every possible way than my current 225 Quattro Coupe – but I haven’t done something stupid in decades, so I have an itch…

    • 0 avatar
      MrOblong

      I’m a Golf R owner, and I don’t get the TT. I can’t see making all of those “sports car” compromises in order to end up with a car that’s simply not much of a sports car. It has all of the “drawbacks” of the R (pricey, AWD so no “pure driving experience”, fancy doodads and luxury-car ride/handling balance) with none of the advantages (cargo space, passenger space).

      What *makes* the R for me is that it’s the perfect everyday car. My sports car has excessively stiff/lowered suspension, RWD, no turbo, and 2 seats, as god intended.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I see an occasional A3/S3 driving around and all I can think of is that is just looks very small.

    Personally, if I had to choose, I’d pick the Golf R. And for some reason, it just looks like so much more fun to me.

  • avatar
    Sam Hell Jr

    Has anyone else had the experience that S3s are driven by insufferable frat-boy-at-the-consultancy asshats?

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Confirmed (based on tiny sample). The biggest young wanker at my firm drives a new S3.

      I’d rather have a stripper-ish 2016 S4 for only a few bucks more, but then again I’m not trying to use it to score with badly chosen women.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        He’s got it backwards; you pick the car because you like it, its all about your confidence in your own choices and f*** all what they think.

        Plus S3? You’re nothing in anything less than an A5/6… I don’t care what boy racer pretentious crap the little VAG can do.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        Why is an S3 driver a wanker but an S4 driver is not?

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          The S4 driver isn’t a wanker because he has much better taste, choosing an Audi with a longitudinal engine; full-time, fully mechanical, rear-biased AWD; and a manual transmission. He clearly chose it for performance reasons rather than image, and has shamed every car at the track nights in his quiet stock sedan, aside from that crazy old Malibu on racing tires.

          Well, the ones I know, anyway!

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Which Audi has a demographic that isn’t “insufferable consultancy asshats”? Just varying degrees of wealth and age.

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      I have not witnessed a driver under the age 50+ behind the wheel of a S3. Infact my female 60+yo fitness instructor neighbor has a red S3. Honda and Nissan/Infiniti drivers with the fart can exhaust is a different story. Most of those dill holes are under the age of 30.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Tim, should I infer from this review that the Mk7 Golf R doesn’t have the heavy, dead, would-rather-be-a-Phaeton feeling that distinguished previous Golfs R from the equivalent GTI?

    If so, I still choke at the price for a Golf, but it’s an impressive piece of kit.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I wonder if there were an S3 wagon to make up for the space constraints in the regular S3 – if that would change Tim’s answer.

    • 0 avatar
      MrOblong

      There is an S3 hatch in Europe, just not in the US.

      The R is not quite as nimble as a GTI, but considering FWD is a non-starter for me, the R is the perfect car. I’ve got 8000 miles on mine and absolutely love it.

      I really wanted a 3 series wagon, but then BMW dropped the 6MT option so I bought the R instead. In that context, I ended up with a much more powerful, faster, more nimble, $15k cheaper version of the F31 3 series wagon, with the only compromise being a foot or so in cargo area length.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Since I own a TDI VW that they may buy back I think my VW choices would be down to a GTI or maybe a R, I really do not need awd, I have snow tires for my TDI but I guess it would be not a deal breaker, they are rare so I like that part of them, I would need a DSG auto and that DSG is pretty good so I am ok there but where the R falls flat for me is no Pano sun roof. in fact it offers no sunroof and that is a deal breaker for me. Plus the GTI and the R come in basically the same color combos so it would be another blue car for me , but I do like the R’s shade of blue better.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I am rather disappointed you can’t get this car in 2 door form.

    Also would be interested to know if the DCC+Navigation package is worth the approximately $2000 over the base R.

    I had a MKV GTI and loved it. Never trusted it however, and sold it well before issues would probably pop up due to job opportunities. I am very torn on these cars. Would love to have another. My thinking part of my brain wonders however what other corners VW has cut after emissions scandal, and the new GTIs being made in Mexico.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Jerome

      I am just dissapointed in ALL my cars these days.
      Understand that they all are still basicaly the good cars I thought they would e when I got em.
      The Mazda6 S STILL is just fun and solid to drive every day. But the nagging small fails are driving me nuts. The rubber rot around the windows. The chrome popping off around the rear window. The Braking of the manual lumbar support.
      The MKS with its now broken air blend actuator motor behind the gages at $600 estimated repair, a part that actually cost around $40. The pulling out of the leather from the console chrome. The dropping of the rain sensor box from the window…
      I can go on and on with every car we have, and we have a lot of cars.

      Is there any attempt at putting really high quality work into cars anymore?

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    “before it became clear that the GTI’s turbo lag is, by way of comparison, more than a little noticeable.”
    This is what I have said earlier when talking about my test drives of the GTI.
    I love the car. I love the interior and the feel.
    But I just could not get a handle on the lag. Every stop sign resulted in my getting irritated by that lag.
    I don’t understand it. The Fords have just as much power in their 2.0 ecoboost, yet I never experience that bad of tag time. So it isn’t the FWD.

    In the end, if I could get my wife, the all time great wagon hater, to even considering a test drive…I am gonna look towards the Golf wagon…and wish I had gotten the R.

    I love torque steer…but I hate the lag time.

    • 0 avatar
      jeanbaptiste

      The lag is a feature :) Keeps you out of the boost when you want to maintain you MPG (THINK BLUE). The Turbo is there, you just gotta plan ahead just a little.

  • avatar
    LimitedTimeOnly

    The author appears to be a fan of the R in part because of the DCC ride variability . . . which one can get on the GTI.

    For fuel economy, going by the (unscientific) data on Fuelly, the 2016 R drivers are averaging about 24 MPG, while GTI users are averaging 28 MPG.

    I don’t need AWD where I live, so the potentially higher maintenance costs wouldn’t be worth it except if I want the performance element.

    That said, I was about to move on a loaded GTI purchase this weekend, and the article made me hesitate. So the R would give me more power, better power (AWD application and somehow less turbo lag), slightly more understated looks, for a price difference (between similarly equipped cars) of $4,470. But the GTI probably will be discounted more.

    Hmm.

    • 0 avatar
      LimitedTimeOnly

      I just asked the local dealer, which has a Golf R equipped as I would buy it, what would be the best price they would offer. “Oh, this is a rare car, we would sell it at MSRP.”

      So, let me correct myself: The GTI will absolutely be discounted, the R won’t, so the price difference grows to at least $9,000 right now, similarly equipped.

      Yep, I’m back to my original plan of picking up a GTI, since that will serve me well as a DD, and still be fun when I can cut it loose, with less concern about how much I paid for it.

      But congratulations to Timothy Cain for writing persuasively enough to make me carefully double-check my decision.

      • 0 avatar
        seth1065

        There is no way the R is $9,000 better than a GTI a no brainer, how much are they discounting GTI’s I have heard R price in not very fluid.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “I just asked the local dealer, which has a Golf R equipped as I would buy it, what would be the best price they would offer. “Oh, this is a rare car, we would sell it at MSRP.””

        What do you expect them to say? I’m not saying the R is being discounted but I wouldn’t expect a seller (dealer or otherwise) to automatically offer one without knowing how committed a buyer is to the purchase.

        And even then, it’s a negotiation.

        Are you’re comparing a base GTI with a base R? Equipment wise, the autobahn is closest to the R (minus the moonroof). You need
        to add the performance, lighting, and DCC packages to the GTI for a more accurate comparison.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I’m sorry, you can still get a modern car without a remote, and a GTI at that?

  • avatar
    manny_c44

    I guess the Golf kind of just looks like a bread van…that’s why it would be hard for me to buy an R over an S3, even though the manual is desirable.

    Another problem with the R and S3 versus the GTI or A3 is that tuners regularly report that the mechanical differences between the engines are trivial and then ECU-tune both engines to roughly the same numbers. So in a way, the price difference is for the warranty at the higher output, and then suspensions/cosmetic differences.

    When my TDI is bought back I will get an R or an S3 (or a used A7, 3.0T!)– S3 is just a much better looking car.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      And I would never buy a daily driver without a hatch, so I guess we balance each other out.

      I also have no use for autotragic transmissions or AWD, so a base Golf would do it for me. The plaid seats alone would be reason enough for me to skip the tinsel.

    • 0 avatar
      MrOblong

      My R is parked in the driveway next to my Z3 M Coupe with the license plate BREDVAN, so I guess you know where I stand on the matter :)

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Hi Tim, can you compare the R to the STi or (is it ever going to get here?) Focus RS? Both are boosted AWD without a lux badge, many other similarities…

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      Subaru has delivered a WRX to the east coast Canadian press fleet – no STI yet. The Focus RS, meanwhile, is incoming. https://twitter.com/GoodCarBadCar/status/728278666946449409

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    Good writeup.

    Personally I think I’d have more fun with a GTI and $10k in cash; but that’s just me.

    • 0 avatar
      johnny_5.0

      I understand why articles like this are based on MSRP. That being said, the real world difference will be even larger and should at least be mentioned. A GTI can be had for several grand under MSRP. The R goes for sticker. Realistically you are probably looking at a $13K+ difference. Even a GTI SE can be had for more than $10K less than an R, and that gets you fake leather, sunroof, upgraded stereo, etc. Realizing you could nearly have a GTI *and* a base Golf for the price of an R makes it hard to rationalize if the price gap is your measuring stick.

      • 0 avatar
        Timothy Cain

        As much as real-world discounts may create a greater real-world spread, some/much of that increase in spread is going to be cancelled out by the Golf R’s strong resale values. VW resale isn’t easily predictable at the moment, so I didn’t spend time discussing it in the article, but Rs historically held up extremely well.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    The GTI would be a no-brainer if you could get it in that shade of R blue. All the colors on the GTI are incredibly dull. But no sunroof on the R would be a deal breaker.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    A GTI can be brought up to 300+hp from APR for all of what, $700? So you’re paying for AWD and….?

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      While you’re looking at the GTI numbers from APR be sure to take a gander at the R. And remember with the GTI, all that power is going to the front wheels.

      The interior is also a step above. Might not matter to some people but it is what it is. To me, the biggest negative is no moonroof. Otherwise, I think 36k for an R is a good deal.

      My choice would be a base manual R. Second would be a WRX premium. Next would be a GTI SE. If you haven’t driven a 2016 WRX, I highly recommend it. To me, it felt more eager than the R (don’t know if it’s the full time AWD or the gearing) but the R is a nicer place to be.

      • 0 avatar
        MrOblong

        I test drove a base GTI (manual climate control and everything) the day I ordered my R. I knew I’d like the car, but to be honest, I felt that the car journalism world had oversold the quality of the new Golf interiors. It was nothing specific, it just didn’t seem as upscale as claimed.

        My R is a world different. To me, the interior quality is between 3 series and 5 series in terms of the way I perceive it. It’s just *so* nice.

        That’s not important to everyone, though. To me, FWD was a non-starter so I didn’t even consider the GTI. It was never a factor that the R is $x more expensive than a GTI or whatever. It was just, this car, for this dollar amount. Is it worth it, or not? For me, the decision was easy.

        • 0 avatar
          hubcap

          I felt the same about the GTI interior. It’s nice but I wasn’t blown away. I don’t know if you looked at a WRX, but the Subie’s interior isn’t that far from the GTI, which pleasantly surprised me.

          The R is a step above both of them. You chose well but I’m sure you know that;-).

  • avatar
    spoonie

    My household functions with basically one car – and since it had to be a hatchback (preference), it might as well be something fun that also excels in the winter. I don’t regret getting the R in any way.

    Sure, it’s not fun like a Camaro 2SS or used 911, or any other number of press cars I”ve had the privilege to enjoy over the last couple of years, but it rarely feels like too much of a step down when I come home to it.

    YMMV.

  • avatar
    Chris from Cali

    I had a 2012 Golf R (MkVI) with a stick, traded that in for a 2015 MkVII with a stick, and then that for a 2016 Golf R. All were progressively better than the last, but the new R is SO much better than the previous R (and GTI, obviously). It is a fully-loaded, DSG/DCC/Nav/DAP car. Not only is it very quick, it is not traction-limited like the GTI was. That was probably my biggest frustration with the GTI – any heavy application of throttle turned into wheelspin or the traction control light flashing wildly. Before anyone mocks the DSG, it is very well-suited to this 2.0T engine.

    As far as the S3 goes, if they still sold it in the mini-wagon (MicroAvant?) body style, I would have bought one. The new A3/S3 sedan shape just doesn’t look right to me. Parked next to a B8 A4, I would describe it as if someone squished both ends (front/back) toward the middle, while retaining the mass. Just seems out of proportion.

    TL;DR – The GTI is good (with the performance pack), but the R is certainly worth the price difference.

    • 0 avatar
      Delta9A1

      I also traded my 2012 GTI (DSG) for a Lapis Blue 2016 Golf R, almost solely to get the AWD. Forget snow, you cannot get the power down in a GTI if it rains. It really ruins the fun. I looked at chipping the GTI at HPA, but the GTI quickly needs the bigger turbo and better manifold that come standard in the Golf R. So in four years, after the warranty is done, I can do a simple APR or HPA “chip flash” and get 400hp, and not spend my time wrestling the steering wheel.

  • avatar
    jonnyguitar

    I have been seriously considering trading in my 2012 boss for one of these.
    Which transmission do the b&b recommend?
    I’ve always preferred manual but that DSC is pretty sweet.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    While obviously being a softer, (at time dramatically) slower car, I’m curious how much, if any, a BMW 228i’s or 320i’s RWD handling dynamics help it earn any equivalency in fun to drive. Also, how does a Focus RS compare in all of this?

    • 0 avatar
      Chris from Cali

      I thought about a stripper 320i at one point, but they are just SO slow. Any RWD dynamic advantage is wiped out by how frustrated you’ll be when there is no power until you’re really pounding on it. An M235i would be an entirely different proposition… (but I still needed AWD – I live in CO.)

  • avatar
    Robbie

    The GTI and R are VW’s only compelling products now. My recipe for VW USA would be: discount all GTIs by $5000 of MSRP; Golf Rs by $8000; suffer the financial pain, yet see VW’s image and credibility restored a bit.

  • avatar
    rreichar

    I’d have to go with the Golf R. More fun and less pretentious. I like the S3 and if money or utility weren’t important I’d go drive a S3. I prefer thr looks of the Golf and the abject practicality of the thing. There are 15 local to me in Austin at the two dealers. Good choice of colors and transmissions. Wish me luck.

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  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States