Saturday Road Test – Volkswagen Golf R

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  Volkswagen Golf R w/DCC & Navigation

  If You’ve Got the Money Fraulein, I’ve Got the Wheels

  By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – Imagine a carmaker adding a six- speed stick shift to any 2016 car! This is like an airline offering gourmet food, free baggage check and legroom.

 But that is something you can now get on the top-of-the-line Golf R. Think of it as a GTI in an Armani suit.

 Yet under the hood and under the seat, the R is outfitted in designer gym gear. This little hatch not only makes a 0-60 run in 5.3 seconds, but it sticks to the road like an exposed off shore investor wants to hang on to his cash.

 It should be noted that with the six speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission the 0-60 is cut to under five seconds, or about as long as it would take to read this sentence. I would recommend the stick over the automatic because it made the R more fun to drive even though determining exactly where clutch engagement occurred in the pedal travel was a guess.

 Since VW gave the R of all of the performance goodies in terms of engine and suspension, it seemed only “fittin’ and proper” to have a third pedal and a stick on the center console.

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 All wheel drive is part of the package of course.

 Under the hood is a refined 2.0-liter, turbocharged/intercooled four with 292 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm and 280 lb-ft of torque @ 1,800 rpm. It runs best on premium unleaded. In short, the powertrain comes from the Audi A3 and that is a right fine source.

 Operators can select Normal, Individual or Race modes, the latter available only on the R.

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 It is about an inch lower to the pavement than the GTI and rides on 18 inch wheels. That is unless you add the Dynamic Chassis Control System then 19 inch alloy wheels appear, and in the case of the test car, summer tires as well. DCC allows the driver to soften or stiffen the shocks at the touch of a button.

 But there are more customization items for owners to play with: Steering ratio, throttle response and even how much engine noise you want to hear. But some may find the sound less than pulse building.

 What you get on the highway, lots of quiet inside, makes the R not only a fun set of wheels on twisty back roads, but a very enjoyable choice for a long interstate trip. Get bored out there? Try a few exit and entrance ramps!

 With the stick, the R is rated at 22 mpg city, 31 highway for a combined 25 mpg on premium fuel. I clocked in at 24.

 Uprated brakes from the GTI Performance Package make their way into the R with 13.4 inch diameter vented discs up front and 12.2 inches to the rear. So there is ample whoa with the go.

 An abundance of luxury touches are found inside – lots of leather, sport seats with power lumbar, stitching, alloy pedals, and dual zone climate control. Fit and finish were first class.

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 Also a new infotainment system that entertains Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirror Link. Owners can select apps from their smartphones directly through the vehicle’s head unit.

 It is a shame that VW continues to operate under the diesel emissions dark cloud, because what we have here is damn fun to drive, fast, highly capable hatchback with a refinement not found in Subaru’s WRX STi for instance.  

 Rather, the R is aimed an older, performance oriented audience that wants to have fun without the officer attracting styling of a performance Mustang or Camaro. The R owner is thinking incognito.

 That person may gulp only once at the idea of paying a hefty $40K for a Golf. But then again, what does it cost to play a round at Augusta?

 A base model R with the manual shift is $35,650. Add DCC and Navi and that goes to $37,895.

 Go whole hog, and the price hits that of the test car or $40,010 including delivery and a $1,295 “Driver Assistance Package” that brings a host of safety equipment.

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