Jezza Jeremy Maqasa*
The Golf R is a legendary car. Many would kill for short spin in it and I was fortunate enough to spend 6 days with it covering, 2130km in the process.
Nothing quite compares to the interior quality of Volkswagen products. The Golf R is no exception. In fact, Volkswagen seems to take things up a notch in this one. The most eye-catching item on the dash is the infotainment system, which is a 9.5-inch touchscreen and contains great graphics and more importantly, an intuitive feature across all the menus that respond to hand gestures. You literally move your hand across and it pre-selects the next menu of what you’ll need then. Equally enjoyable is the instrument cluster which displays speed in analogue and digital in one area and fuel usage or indication both in analogue and digital in the other. The digital rev counter that is almost 3D-like in view feels like a mini-cockpit at first glace. Looking up, I could enjoy the warm African sun shining through the large panoramic sunroof that can be folded in various ways, depending on one’s love of the upper air and sun blaze.
The steering wheel with its “flat-bottom” feels like you are driving a sporty car. The car responds decently and follows the steering to where it is pointed at. What is more attractive is that the steering is weighed exactly to how the car is set up, both in performance and its dynamic handling. I have driven its sibling the Audi S3 and from that experience, my take is that the S3’s steering response is too “playful” and as such, my pick on the steering response will be with the Golf R. The whole blue colour takes up the outlook of the interior and suits the car to the T.
When looking at the Golf R, the question that comes to mind is, how does Volkswagen keep on making art out of this hot hatch? It retains the basic formula but keeps on looking prettier and prettier with each rendition. This iteration is no exception. When you cast your eyes you see the bold stance from both the rear and the front, you cannot escape the redesigned headlights. The LED lights are more defined and contain turning-lights from either left or right (which is good in identifying objects that are out of sight). The alloy-wheels for the Golf R come in two dimensions, i.e. Pretoria and Spielberg. My test car wore the Pretoria. The rear part is complemented by the dual split silver exhaust system, where there are two on each side, and when looking at the rear from 35 degrees angle you can see how beautiful the wheel archers are pronounced. What stood out for me was the folding VW badge from the back. It is usually used to open the boot but in this instance it houses the rear-view camera. It shocked most people that were behind it when I reversed as they thought the boot is not closed.
My dislike was obviously the boot space that compromised my drive to Venda where I had to leave behind some veggies and fruits. This is quite disappointing especially in these tough economic times. . The boot space is compromised due to the 4MOTION housing that runs through the back-end where the boot has to “lift-up”. This makes the boot slightly smaller than that of the front wheel drive GTI. But for the occupants at the back, it is good enough to take 3 adults without compromising their comfort too much. It is an everyday car but be aware, its sporty nature, especially when you drive it in Sport or Individual mode, it might make the ride uncomfortable to some passengers. This is because the suspension will firm up making road bumps be felt more intimately.
Power and drive
The way this Volkswagen Golf R performs both in power and fuel efficiency, one is obliged to take his hat off to the men and women who worked tirelessly to produce this vehicle. The throttle response, regardless of the ratio of the gears, makes all that 380Nm of torque available rapidly. The steering precision in Race and Individual modes is a dream, put foot down and point the car on the apex and the direction is there, and the chassis just sits flat. Additionally, the everyday grip is there to assure you that nothing will ever go wrong, provided your eyes are set on the tarmac. I can write about its perfection till the cows come home.
Engine size: 2.0T 4 cylinders
Transmission: 7 Speed DSG
0 -100 km/h: 4.6 seconds
*Jezza is a motoring enthusiast and a Volkswagen Audi Group ambassador. You can also send us your own written or video review and we will gladly publish it. Your contribution will be subject to our editorial policy of course.
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