QOTD: Which Side R You On?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd which side r you on

The landlord came around yesterday. No, your author was not in trouble for throwing raucous, all-night shindigs, nor was he in need of a hooked wire to unclog a bathroom sink. The purpose of this visit was automotive in nature.

My landlord had just purchased a car, you see, and was understandably feeling pretty damn proud about it. Instantly, his choice of ride fostered an online discussion about visibility.

The car? A Volkswagen Golf R, the quintessential hot hatch.

TTAC’s Managing Editor put it best when he remarked, “The Golf R’s charm lies in how little it shows off.” I couldn’t agree more.

VW’s most potent compact keeps its 288 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque something of a secret to other motorists. All-wheel drive is not telegraphed with graphics, sky-high wings, or body cladding. Nope, just a subtle application of visual sport the less eagle-eyed among us might miss.

While VW put the R on hold for 2020, pending arrival of the eight-generation Golf, it remains a sought-after machine with a clear, polar-opposite rival: the Honda Civic Type R.

The Type R is everything the R isn’t. While the R offers drivers a subdued exterior with which to fly under the radar, the Type R bellows to every kid and cop in town, “Here I am!” Its fascia boasts more inlets and crevasses than a Norwegian fjord. The wing is on loan from the USAF. Front-drive compared to the R’s AWD, and with only a manual transmission on offer, the more powerful Type R (306 hp, 295 lb-ft) is as brash as the R is understated. The only thing the two have in common is bodystyle, segment, and engine displacement.

Which begs the question: If given the choice of one of these two beasts, free of charge, which one would you choose? Why?

[Images: Honda, Volkswagen]

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  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Mar 06, 2020

    If money were no object, I'd have to go VW. I don't want to have to be seen in a Civic of any sort from the current generation and with few exceptions have generally had an affinity for VW's recent styling decisions. With the VW you could fly under the radar and not be hectored by yabbos who think they have something to prove. If the badges are capable of being removed all the better. When driving in traffic it would be easy to blend in, find an opening, and be gone.

  • Nedmundo Nedmundo on Mar 06, 2020

    CTR. I'm in my 50s and would prefer the VW's understated approach and AWD. But I've owned a VW, which was unreliable and largely disintegrated. My Acura, on the other hand, is over 10 years old and has 121,000 miles, and yet is basically rock solid. I know Honda's reliability has slipped and VW's has improved, but over the long haul I'll go with Honda. For this reason alone, I'd take the CTR, but I also think I'd prefer the driving experience, just as I prefer the Civic Si over the GTI. I prefer the feel of Hondas generally. The agility, ergonomics, short gearing--it all just works for me. I'll take my CTR in Polished Metal Metallic, please.

  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI coupe....it's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark V.....it was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).
  • Master Baiter New slogan in the age of Ford EVs:FoundOnRoadDischarged