Few cartage in Volkswagen’s accepted calendar are as alienated amid the Car and Driver agents as the Golf R. Even a accidental acknowledgment risks active the appointment pundits, triggering ad-lib sermons analytic the Golf R’s bulk against achievement statistics, and commendation heavily from the angelic book of the Golf GTI, a celestial about these parts. It’s not that the R’s detractors don’t admit its abstract alloy of performance, comfort, and utility—after all, collectively, these aforementioned association abide to vote the Golf R assimilate our 10Best cars account forth with the blow of the Golf lineup—but at $40,635 ($41,735 with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic), its critics say the Golf R artlessly doesn’t activity the aforementioned bang-for-the-buck as the GTI, which starts at $27,265. Equally apropos to some is that it basically looks like a regular-old Golf; if you’re activity to cantankerous the $40K threshold, they reason, why not move into a brand that carries added cachet?
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What these office-cubicle crusaders abort to butt is that a assertive blazon of alone is accommodating to pay for the animated akin of aplomb that comes with aerial beneath the radar. Speak cautiously and backpack a big stick, as Theodore Roosevelt acclimated to say.
Aficionados of be-winged extroverts such as the Honda Civic Blazon R and the Subaru WRX STI will never affection to the Golf R, which in agreement of exoteric airs almost manages a whisper. Sure, it sits 0.2 inch lower than the GTI and sports a baby assembly of R-exclusive signifiers (an R-specific advanced bumper, ancillary skirts, rear diffuser, and spoiler; cloister chrome bankrupt tips; R badges on the advanced fenders; black-painted mirror caps; and accepted 19-inch Englishtown wheels), but none of these capacity bark for your attention. The jailbait kid sitting abutting to you at the ablaze in the Civic with a fart-can bankrupt will never apperceive what happened.
The emblematic big stick actuality is the Golf R’s turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four and accepted all-wheel drive. Rated at 292 application and 280 lb-ft of torque, the Golf R agent outguns the GTI’s by 72 ponies and 22 lb-ft. A six-speed chiral chiral dispenses torque via Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. Although about the aforementioned EA888 2.0-liter that is adapted to the GTI, the adaptation in the Golf R has been thoroughly massaged and appearance reworked or absolutely new apparatus including the butt head, bankrupt valves, valve seats and springs, pistons, fuel-injection system, and turbocharger.
A cruise out to our testing ability accepted what we already suspected: The Golf R is one of the quickest hatches extant. Switching to Race on the driving-mode selector (Normal, Individual, and Eco are the added choices) for added advancing burke response, we begin the best able barrage adjustment is to bolt the agent revs as they ascended to about 6000 rpm and again dump the clutch. This produced a 4.8-second zero-to-60-mph dart and a quarter-mile time of 13.4 abnormal with a allurement acceleration of 104 mph. For those befitting score, the 2018 Golf R is 1.2 and 1.1 abnormal quicker in these measures than the Golf GTI with a six-speed manual. Looking above affinity rivalry, the Golf R additionally eked out a tiny dragstrip win over the Honda Civic Blazon R, accessible it in both tests by 0.1 second. The Subaru WRX STI is a tad pokier, abaft the Golf R by 0.5 and 0.4 second, respectively. Of its abutting competitors, alone the absonant Ford Focus RS’s 4.6-second bang to 60 mph can beating the Golf R off its perch, and the quarter-mile challenge amid the two is a asleep heat.
Human alternation with the Golf R is instinctive. While the shifter may abridgement some of the concrete dash of the best of the breed, it moves from aboideau to aboideau with the aforementioned burdensome aplomb begin in the GTI. The clamp pedal activity is ablaze to a fault, though, and while it is progressively weighted, takeup starts abruptly at the top of pedal travel. The anchor pedal is a actual bedrock by comparison, and burden rather than biking dictates the bulk of endlessly action. Requiring 159 anxiety to stop from 70 mph (previous tests of the Golf R produced 157-foot stops), it calmly bests the 174-foot bulk recorded by the GTI but artlessly can’t access the supercar-like binders—and lighter weight—of the Honda Civic Blazon R, which chock-full in 142 feet. The WRX STI and the Focus RS appear in at 158 and 159 feet, respectively. Numbers aside, the Golf R’s braking activity in cartage is smooth, progressive, and predictable, the trifecta of adorable braking attributes.
At aloof 2.1 turns lock to lock—compared with 2.8 for bottom Golfs—the Golf R’s council amplifies the point-and-shoot characteristics that accomplish the absolute Golf calendar so endearing. The Golf R builds on the inherent advantage of the Golf’s stiff, rattle-free anatomy with adapted lower ascendancy accoutrements in advanced and specific affability for the multilink rear suspension. The Golf R loves a acceptable ambagious backroad, abounding from bend to bend with a faculty of adroitness and aplomb that makes boilerplate drivers attending bigger than they absolutely are. Riding on 235/35R-19 Continental ContiSportContact 5P tires, anchor maxed out at 0.95 g, decidedly lower than the 1.02 g and 1.01 g generated by the Civic Blazon R and the Focus RS.
But what neither of those can match—although the Civic Blazon R comes afterpiece than the Focus—is the accompaniment of civil calm the Golf R can accept on moment’s notice. Select Eco mode—or, our preference, accept Alone and abode the Dynamic Chassis Ascendancy (DCC) is in its mellowest ambience while application added advancing council and burke calibrations—and the aftereffect is a bland and quiet busline accessory for those times back the chat or soundtrack takes antecedence over hitting apexes. (Track rats booty note, however: Drivers are prevented from absolutely acquisition the Golf R’s adherence ascendancy from the factory. A quick internet chase will accommodate you with the advice bare to do so at your own risk.)
Another agency its critics assume to balloon is that with the Golf R there’s actual little assumption in agreement of the advantage sheet. The $40,635 bulk of our analysis archetype includes not alone the DCC adaptive abeyance and VW’s new, top-tier MIB II infotainment arrangement with aeronautics and an 8.0-inch touchscreen display, but additionally a six-year/72,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. And that’s on top of the model’s feature-rich, all-in packaging strategy, which about makes the R the burrito absolute of Golfs.
While the accepted Mark 7 Golf R is still a able weapon in the action on auto boredom, we accept it on acceptable ascendancy that the next-generation Golf R is on the border and will acceptable access stateside as a 2021 archetypal packing a V-6 and possibly bearing up to 350 horsepower. But currently or in the future, it’s up to you to adjudge how almighty a Golf you can afford.
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
PRICE AS TESTED: $40,635 (base price: $40,635)
ENGINE TYPE: turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, adamant block and aluminum head, absolute ammunition injection
Displacement: 121 cu in, 1984 ccPower: 292 hp @ 5400 rpmTorque: 280 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual
DIMENSIONS:Wheelbase: 103.5 inLength: 168.4 inWidth: 70.8 in Height: 56.5 inPassenger volume: 93 cu ftCargo volume: 23 cu ftCurb weight: 3334 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS:Zero to 60 mph: 4.8 secZero to 100 mph: 12.1 secZero to 130 mph: 22.6 secRolling start, 5–60 mph: 5.9 secTop gear, 30–50 mph: 9.1 secTop gear, 50–70 mph: 6.7 secStanding ¼-mile: 13.4sec @ 104 mphTop acceleration (governor limited, C/D est): 150 mphBraking, 70–0 mph: 159 ftRoadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.95 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY:Observed: 23 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY:Combined/city/highway: 24/21/29 mpg
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