What does 40K of Golf get you?
The Golf R sits at the top end of the Volkswagen hatch back range in both price and performance. This understated, high powered hot-hatch often gets over looked by those that do not class themselves as ‘car people.’ Pass one on the roads and you may miss it’s quad exhausts and flashes of chrome and just pass it off as a humble SE. In fact it’s subtle styling makes it actually less eye-catching that its 2 wheel drive, less powerful brother the GTI with its red badging and lary Jacara tartan seats. But then i believe that it was always Volkswagen’s intentions for the Golf R to only stand out to those who are true VW fans and want their Golf to look like a Golf regardless of the power that is lurking under the bonnet.
The 2019 plate Golf R that I have managed to get my hands on was a manager’s demonstrator, quite often the most specced-up pre-registered models you can find would have started their lives this way. Golf R’s start around 36K for a completely standard car, which un-arguably is expensive for a Golf. Start getting excited with the extra options and you’re very quickly heading towards the 40K region.
This particular one works out at £39,590 once you build it up on Volkswagen’s new car configuration page. That’s edging into Ford Mustang territory (£37,685-£48,210.) although some would argue that the person opting for the Mustang might have a little more to prove and perhaps something to make up for. Volkswagen is opting for a far more modest market, with an appreciation for power but also the desire to ride around town simply nodding to those that admire and understand what they’re driving.
The car that I road tested is finished in White silver, a £595 metallic colour option. You can opt for ‘Pure white’ that is a free paint colour but when paying in excess of 36K for a car, why cop out on the colour? My personal opinion is that a Golf R shouldn’t come in any other colour than the iconic and striking ‘Lapis Blue’ but then considering its beautiful light catching and colour changing effect; the ‘White Silver’ looks just as breath-taking. Especially as it has a very similar effect to the bank-breaking most expensive pearl colour option ‘Oryx White.’ Unfortunately, since the beginning of 2019 both ‘White Silver’ and ‘Turmeric Yellow’ have been removed from ordering.
18” Candiz alloys come as a standard fitment on the golf R. This car has the 19” Spielbergs which defiantly make it stand out from the crowd. This performance car gets black ‘R’ brake callipers, opt for the performance pack and you will also get drilled brake pads. Overall the car sits 10mm lower on its sport suspension. It gets a meatier side sills and a more aggressive front grille with bigger intakes to the previous MK7 Golf R. A chrome strip lays along the grille and seamlessly blends into the LED lights that pulsate when indicating. Not to mention a dusting of black and chrome ‘R’ badges and 4 mean tailpipes.
19” Pretoria wheels are a definite favourite choice to many ‘R’ owners. One reason for this maybe be that these are the only non diamond cut option, meaning they are often much cheaper to refurbish. With such large wheels are low profile tyres, accidents are inevitable.
The September 2018 spec saw the introduction of a rear-view camera as standard, which thanks to Volkswagens cleaver trick of hiding it under the rear VW badge means the crisp colour display stays clean with little to no maintenance. Some might think, ‘wont the camera get smudged or damaged as i clasp the badge to open the boot.’ However, that cleaver little camera only emerges when reverse is engaged. More controversially ‘keyless entry and start’ has once again returned as a standard fitment. There is no denying that the amount of attempted and successful car robberies of keyless begins to grow and some would say that this fitment is now nothing more than a nuisance.
Inside the cabin of the Golf often sparks controversy. Like the outside it is classy and grown up but some would argue it is lacking in any excitement. Part suede, part cloth Alcantara sport seats are comfortable enough, but for a car capable of such power you would hope for something with more support to hug you on the days you decide to ditch the school run and really push it to its limits.
An 8inch class fronted screen and customisable digital dashboard bring the MK7.5 to the top of its game in terms of technology as well as top end Satnav and app-connect coming standard.
Top tip – if you’re buying new then you’re entitled to a VW charging cable, just make sure you ask for it!
Automatic lights and wipers, multifunctional steering wheel, heated seats, Bluetooth are all included in that standard price. Golf’s are never lacking in safety spec either; adaptive cruise control comes hand in hand with emergency city breaking and lane asset. There is also the emergency call buttons located by the interior lights. These give you assistance with technical support, breakdowns and accidents.
In the event of an accident in the Golf, it will asses the damage, call the emergency services and share information with them such; location, level of impact and even how many passengers were traveling in the car.
The ‘R’ has the same 2-litre TSI engine as the MK7 however when it was first released the MK7.5 got a little boost of 10 extra PS. Unfortunately, in September 2018 it needed to go through a subtly de-tune thanks to reformed WLTP regulations, bringing it back down to 300PS. Despite that minimal claw back of power it still boasts a 0-60 time of an impressive 4.6 seconds. Thanks to its 4-wheel drive system wet conditions doesn’t massively affect that sprint either. That system also means that the Golf R is able to dart into bends before engaging power through those rear wheels are propelling it out of those corners at heart-stopping speeds.
The lower sport suspension helps you feel in control and glued to the road, however sport mode can leave you feeling rather rattled. The standard drive option’s do give an answer to this with a comfort choice softening the suspension, however you then loose the quick response and roar from the exhaust. If you really want to have your cake and eat it, all whilst not dropping crumbs; then the ‘Dynamic Chassis Control’ is a fabulous option. ‘Individual’ driving mode will give you a chance to keep all the response of race mode and the exhaust noise but soften the suspension. Or alternatively if you’re feeling like being a good neighbour, you could have everything set to ‘Race’ but reduce exhaust noise. With the Golf R it’s all about making the car fit around you.
Another first for 2019 is the removal of the manual gear box as an option. This may upset some enthusiasts however Volkswagens DSG box certainly doesn’t leave you pining for the manual. The transitions are smooth and refined, if a little delayed throughout the early gear changes. If you’re missing having full control, then you can have some fun with the Golf’s steering paddles.
If you’re really feeling brave then you can engage ‘Launch control’ system which allows even the most ham-fisted driver to make a perfect getaway. Be careful though, launching the car too often can result in voiding the warranty.
A car capable of such performance is never going to be cheap to run or insure but the Golf outshines competitors in both classes. Thanks to its high level of safety spec insurance is realistic and pick up deriving habits from your gran and you could see MPG figures of mid 30’s.
All things considered it is obvious why the Golf R is so worth the money to the right person. It seems to strike the perfect balance between performance and everyday comfort. If balance isn’t something you feel you need in your life, then something more in your face like the Honda Civic Type R would be more up your street. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the Golf R hits just the right spot for a lot of people.
Check out some fantastic savings on Golf R demonstrators and pre-reg’s here – https://www.marriottmotorgroup.co.uk/used-car-results.aspx?COGManufacturer=VOLKSWAGEN&COGModel=GOLF&COGPriceFrom=32500