Some would say the Mk7.5 Golf R is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Subtle looks on the outside to the untrained eye can result in people mistaking it for just another regular Volkswagen. But look more closely and you will see the flared arches, gloss black body kit, and four exhaust pipes, showing that the R is no joke.
And that’s what’s so appealing to me about the Mk 7.5 Golf R. Its levels of refinement, yet sheer pace and potential leave it ahead of many of its competitors. With a 2-litre, 4-cylinder engine that packs a whopping 213kW and 380Nm of torque, the Golf R can propel from 0-100km/h in a claimed 4.8 seconds. However, having owned this car I can confirm that the 0-100 times are closer to 4.5 to 4.6 seconds. From the outside, the differences between the Mk 7 and the 7.5 are small but significant. The redesigned front headlights, new 19-inch Spielberg wheels, small aero tweaks and the dynamic LED tail lights separate it from the previous generation. But on the inside is where the face-lifted Golf really shines. It has all the bells and whistles: heated seats, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, Apple CarPlay and a fantastic 8-inch touchscreen display. But the show piece is the new digital instrument display which looks and works amazing.
With five drive modes (Eco, Comfort, Normal, Race & Individual), the car can be transformed at the touch of a button depending on the mood I am in. In comfort, the car is calm, quiet and refined – with the transmission sometimes lacking if you try and put the foot down. But once in Race, everything tightens up, the suspension stiffens, the DSG gearbox comes alive and the excitement levels increase. The way the exhaust cracks and pops on the overrun and upshifts is highly addictive, and you certainly need to be aware of the surrounding speed limits! The AWD system is remarkable in the way it puts the power down and how stable the car feels at speed.
Starting at around $56,000, it is certainly a lot of money for a hot hatch (which can rise even quicker if you add the sunroof, dynaudio sound system and driver’s assistance package). But when compared to rivals such as the Ford Focus RS, Renault Megane RS and Honda Type R, it is certainly the most liveable on a day to day basis. I would have to admit that if your thing is to go hard around a track or twisty mountain roads, the RS and Type R would perhaps be a better weapon of choice. But as a daily, with the potential to go really fast really quick, there is nothing that comes close.
My one pet peev about the car? The car is so well finished, apart from the hard / cheap plastic on the inside of the central console. You will find your left leg resting against the plastic which is uncomfortable for long drives. C’mon VW, get your act together ?