After owning a Nissan GT-R R35 for four years and wanting something that could actually carry four passengers, while not attracting too much attention, and could get between traffic lights at a reasonable pace, I settled on a Golf R wagon. Let’s just say that, bang for buck, it’s an exceptional package. It goes, stops and handles well, while featuring 215kW, a slick 7-speed transmission, all-wheel drive and big brakes.
Steering is sharp with good feedback, and the AWD handling with the assisting technology works well. Break traction with the primary-drive front wheels and the rear wheels immediately step in. It's more noticeable in the dry, but in the wet the handling is seamless and could create over-confidence in the driver. The stability and traction systems do a good job, however, and will gather the car back in control if you get over enthusiastic. The car does tolerate a little slip and slide.
The R comes with plenty of room, comfort and loads of technology. Included is a list of features that are options on most other cars. Keep in mind that there are also aftermarket tuning options available for approximately $1000 (JB4) that will see your Golf R deliver sub-4.0 second 0-100km/h and are items that will not void your warranty (plug and remove around dealer servicing) - not that we would recommend doing this - ed.
Build quality is excellent as the R is actually built in Germany unlike many of the cheaper models. You will struggle to find warranty problems, rattles or any issues, as build quality is excellent. Overall interior comfort and material quality is excellent, and the sound system is also very good. My only complaint is regarding road noise when travelling at freeway speeds.
Radar cruise control is amazing, and it keeps the car in its lane and uses clever technology to ensure the driver is alert. It also provides emergency braking if you or someone else makes a mistake. The other technologies in the car include the TFT digital instrument cluster, which is an excellent feature that is intuitive and works very well. Automatic fresh and recirc air means you miss out on nasty smells, and overall the air con works well any weather condition.
The seats are well bolstered, include lumbar support to the front seats and overall offer a good range of adjustment for long legs and arms. The seats can raise for the smaller in stature and are very comfortable. The leather quality is more of a durable nature rather than lounge comfort, and the heated seats work well with three settings. There are loads of clever features like the rear seats that fold flat for large items, and the wagon in particular has plenty of space for the family and is capable of carrying holiday luggage for four people. Storage bins and places are plenty.
The headlights and smart interior and exterior lighting are a standout for crystal clear night vision. Fuel economy is good unless you are enthusiastic with your right foot. It’s a car with many personalities and it’s unlikely you will get bored in the short or medium term.
NOTE - CarAdvice editorial photograph used as no hero shot was provided by the writer.