Sixteen years ago Volkswagen released one of its most special machines: the Mk4 Golf R32. It had a 237hp 3.2l naturally aspirated six cylinder VR6 (narrow-angle V engine configuration) petrol unit, all wheel drive and a quite unique and fantastic soundtrack.
It was the first ever production car to be fitted with a DSG transmission. Then in 2005 the germans upped the game and gave the Mk5 R32 more power, a more stylish appearance and a better interior. Unfortunately the next two generations we’re a bit of a letdown. They both featured 2l 4 cylinder turbocharged petrol engines, that produced lots of power and torque, but they’ve lost the thing that made the original R32 special.
But can the new Mk7.5 version do something about that?
Before we get into this review let’s get one thing straight. This is not just a faster Golf GTI with different badges. No, the differences between the two are much bigger than that. I have a video on that topic, if you’re interested in it, over here: https://youtu.be/L5fdPk7n6Ss
The car I’m driving today has a 2l turbocharged petrol unit that can produce 310hp and 400Nm of torque. It also features a Haldex all wheel drive system, bigger and better brakes and get this, you can order the new Golf R with an Akrapovic exhaust. From factory!
The brakes aren’t bad either. They’re part of the Performance Pack this car has. They’re bigger and 2kgs lighter than the standard set and they’re very efficient and scrub off speed really fast.
And I have to say that these two optional extras, the Performance Pack and the Akrapovic Exhaust, even though they are pretty expensive, both of them enhance the driving experience and it makes driving the new Golf R even more exciting. I think they’re worth the asking price.
I love the dual character of this Golf. It’s so easy to drive around town, the steering is light, the suspension is soft, the car is refined and you don’t really draw any attention to yourself due to this car understated looks. It’s a pretty good sleeper car this.
But put in race mode and the steering sharpens up, the gearbox goes into it’s sportiest setting and the throttle response sharpens up.
It feels just like a car that has four wheel steering, it that precise when cornering. Just point the car in the right way, steer and you’ll be out of that corner at insane speeds.
And speaking of fast, the guilty party here is the engine. Which is exceptional. It’s quiet and refined when you’re just cruising around but it’s powerful and punchy when you put your foot down. It pulls really well from anything above 2000rpm, power delivery is smooth and it really never runs out of puff. 0 to 100km/h time is dealt with 4.6s. It’s faster than most of its rivals and the only letdown of the driving experience, for me at least, is the fake noise on the inside.
The steering is excellent. It’s not to artificial in the way it weighs up, the body roll is kept to a minimum and the suspension makes the car glide over bumps. Even in race mode, the car is still able to remain comfortable but at the same time it’s much sharper than before. These shocks feel sophisticated.
The Haldex AWD system is not permanent. Meaning that in every day use this Golf R is essentially FWD. But if the situation demands it, the AWD system can send up to 50% of the power to the back wheels. And because of that previous Golf R’s understeered quite a lot when you pushed them hard through corner. Well, I’m happy to report that in this new one they’ve reduced the understeer dramatically. It’s not completely gone but you’ll feel it less than before.
Volkswagen really went all out when developing this new Golf R. Even the transmission is new. It has the seven speed DSG box as opposed to the old six speed and well, it’s just flawless in the way it operates. It’s smooth and refined around town, in Comfort and Normal mode, but one you put the car in Race mode and the transmission in Sport, the shifts transform completely. They’re much faster and more aggressive. It’s a great gearbox this!
Now obviously this car isn’t perfect. No car is for that matter and there are a few things that I don’t really like about it. So make sure you’re subscribed because I have an entire video on that topic coming up soon.
Overall this new Golf R is the most fun Golf I’ve driven so far. Beside being fast, comfortable and practical, this new generation also gets back some character, some personality. And that’s what I think has been missing from the last two generations.
And you know what the best thing about the Golf R is? You can even buy it as an estate version! How cool is that?