We’re still without the MkVII Golf in the U.S., much less the comparo-winning GTI, and Volkswagen now twists the knife a little more. Today, the company unveiled the ultimate Golf: the all-wheel-drive, 296-hp Golf R.
In European specification, there is a choice of a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. Volkswagen says that the sprint from 0 to 62 mph takes 5.3 seconds with the manual and just 4.9 seconds with the automatic—we recorded a 0–60 time of 5.9 seconds in our last test of a Golf R. Specifying the automatic adds a launch-control feature while the manual features shorter throws and a shorter shifter than do workaday Golfs. Top speed is governed at 155 mph, and VW R development chief Guido Sever says that 168 mph would be possible without the electronic limiter. "We are considering that option," he adds.
The manual-equipped Golf R is rated for 33 mpg and the automatic receives a mark of 34, although that’s on the optimistic European cycle. VW claims a fuel-economy improvement of 20 percent over the previous-gen Golf R—available only with a six-speed manual in the U.S., and rated for 19 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway—largely due to efficiency gains in the switch from the EA113 mill to the new EA888, as well as the car’s weight loss of some 100 pounds. (That drop in weight is inherent to the Golf MkVII and its MQB architecture; there are no specific lightweight components on the Golf R.)
Compared to the standard Golf, the chassis of the R is lowered by nearly 0.8 inch—still some 0.2 inch lower than the GTI—and features an adaptive setup with choices of Comfort, Sport, and Race modes, each offering differentiated rebound and compression rates within each individual damper. (These Dynamic Chassis Control settings work in conjunction with VW’s Driving Profile Selector, which alter transmission and throttle settings according to which mode is selected: Eco, Normal, Individual, Comfort, and Race.) The GTI's variable-ratio steering system is used in the Golf R, and, for the first time, the stability-control system can be switched off entirely.
This ultimate Golf is a "street fighter" and "ready for the racetrack," according to the brand. To illustrate that, we’re told that Nürburgring lap times are 15 seconds quicker compared to the MkVI Golf R, and 11 seconds better than the best time set by the new MkVII GTI. But the Golf R isn’t an uncompromising racer, "It is still a Golf." That's a good thing, considering that the European customer base for the dearest Golf is comprised mainly of affluent men between the ages of 40 and 60. These people like to brag about lap times, but they’re not interested in frequent visits to the chiropractor.
Thanks to: Car and Driver