Month: September 2019

VW Golf R All Wheel Drive System

Golf R 228kW AWD System

As people who thoroughly enjoy driving cars, the general consensus is that the most rewarding layout is that of a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive vehicle. If executed correctly, it provides that sweet 50:50 weight distribution, as well as that typical base-of-your-spine shove that only a RWD vehicle can deliver. However, at the first sight of any form of precipitation, especially in RWD vehicles with a kilowatt or two, the rear-wheels loose traction and what you then have is a recipe for exceptional fun or devastating gloom. On a graph, this sits as a directly proportional curve, one axis being driver skill and the other being fun/propensity for doom and gloom. In other words, there is a small percentage if people who might be able to extract the most out of this sort of vehicle, and for the rest, it might end in tears, despite their desire or interest in performance cars…

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the front-engine front-wheel-drive vehicle. With forgiving dynamics and a propensity to understeer, an FWD vehicle is the safe way to go should you not be in the mood for some sideways action. Unless, of course you’re the type of person who likes to provoke lift-off oversteer. But this is dangerous and irresponsible and should not be tried ever…

Enter the AWD system – in short, it’s able to distribute drive accordingly between the front and rear axles, and in some cases even left to right across the axles, too. What this means is that you have maximum traction at all times – this is safe. And while in most cases ‘safe’ is a synonym for boring, that most certainly isn’t the case in the Volkswagen Golf R.

It’s 228 kW and 400 N.m put to the road through all four wheels allows it to catapult itself and its occupants towards the horizon with an aggression that is quite frankly unrivalled in this and perhaps other segments, too. This, coupled with its raspy exhaust note, addictive induction noises and distinctive turbo noises make for a wholly exhilarating experience. In a word, it’s lovely.

Dynamically, it feels a little more put together than its less-powerful, front wheel drive sibling, the Golf GTI. Thanks to the variable nature of the Haldex AWD, less skilled drivers are also able to drive it fast, safely and within the limits of their driving skill.

It’s truly spectacular and rather than detract from the enjoyment of driving, the AWD system assists the majority of drivers in being able to drive the R quickly and safely and just another reason why the Golf R is well and truly the consummate hot/super hatchback. Perfectly packaged, superbly quick and absolutely usable.

Volkswagen Golf R Technology

Volkswagen Golf R Technology

There was a time and stage when a radio in a car was an accessory – an optional extra that had to be fitted by a specialist and at an extra cost to the owner. The “wireless” in question first started out as one horrid, singular speaker in the footwell beneath the dashboard of the vehicle that had a timbre much akin to that of a gentle band, mumbling through a pillow while sitting in the corner of an echoey bathroom. The world was then blessed with the luxury of ‘stereo’ which in essence sounded like two of these mumbling pillow bands, but now at opposite ends of this echoey bathroom. Suffice to say, we have come a Lon way since then and as the telescopic ariels and shoddy sound-quality disappeared, the “audio system” developed too into what is now simply known as infotainment. The more perceptive of you would have figured out that infotainment is an amalgamation of the two words ‘information’ and ‘entertainment’ – wow, what a time to be alive!
Take Volkswagen’s new Golf R, for example. This is the perfect example of a sensible, practical and perfectly capable everyday vehicle which just so happens to have the latest and greatest in ‘infotainment’ available as an option. This is neatly integrated into the vehicle and works seamlessly in conjunction with what VW call the ‘Active Informalities Display.’ Essentially, this display is a 12-inch high-resolution screen that sits behind the steering wheel where one may traditionally have found the analogue instruments. This display is customisable by the driver and can show all kinds of relevant information – the speedometer and rev-counter will even move to either side of the display to make more space for the map when using the satellite-navigation system.
Vehicle settings can also be controlled and changed via the optional 9.2 – inch Discover Pro touchscreen system which is really great from a usability and user interface perspective.  The system is really easy to navigate and contains clean menu’s and infographics to aid the user in whichever process or function they are trying to use. The Discover Pro system also features gesture control technology. Gesture control is able to decipher certain gestures which you my make in order to change to the next song playing through the vehicle’s optional Dynaudio audio-system – which compromises of 9 high-performance speakers, front and rear 2-way loudspeaker sets and a discreetly mounted dual voice coil subwoofer which is all powered by a 400-watt digital amplifier. In short, it sounds really good.  The gesture control worms a charm, however, if you’ aren’t happy with the VW interface, connect your iPhone and use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
On top of this, almost all the information you could ever need regarding the vehicle can be displayed on the touch screen. If you’re conscious of fuel economy, then VW’s think blue trainer can be activated, aiding the driver in driving more economically. Our favorite option is the sports display, which displays live digital gauges on metrics such as power, torque, boost levels and G-force.
In terms of safety tech, the Golf R also features more commonplace premium features such as lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control which is radar-controlled and makes sure you are always keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front while maintaining and adjusting speed. Also available is Blind-spot assist and Rear Traffic Alert which monitors traffic that is approaching the rear of the car when reversing and notifies the driver is necessary.  All these features go a long way to adding to the premium feel of the Golf R and go along way in keeping you safer on the roads.
So there you have it – gone are the days of plastic oranges on ariels and space-consuming 8-track upfront. The Golf R has got you covered with all the tech you could ever need – incredible audio quality, clean and concise maps, and a user interface that doesn’t frustrate the living daylights out of you as do the majority of OEM systems do. Few buttons, legible text and responsive software are a simple recipe for success in this instance.

Why I’ve come to love the VW Golf R

Why I’ve come to love the VW Golf R

If there is one vehicle VW know how to make well, it’s the hatch. More specifically, the hot hatch.  We’ve been blessed with the Polo & Golf GTI for many years and more recently, the Golf R and special edition vehicles such as the Clubsport and Clubsport S. As South Africa is a massive market for these vehicles, we’ve had our fair share of driving tests and experiences. 

In all honesty, I’ve always been a bigger fan of the Golf GTI, ( Especially Clubsport) over the Golf R. Yes, the Golf R is much quicker but the GTI always provided a better, more engaging driving experience. A great front-wheel-drive hot hatch can be hard to beat from a driving engagement perspective, but having said that, I’ve really started to understand the Golf R and the reasons to own one over a GTI.

After my recent test drive, I realized that the 228kW Golf R is your everyday super hatch.  Power is delivered through all 4 wheels and this makes for cleaner acceleration, more grip and an overall smoother driving experience. Due to this, there’s not much drama with the R but that doesn’t discount from R’s straight-line speed, it flies, it’s an absolute weapon. Add this to a comfortable, well-insulated cabin and you have yourself a great way to get to work, and if you’re running late, you’ll be glad you bought one. 

In-car technology is also an area the 228kW Golf R excelled, VW has refined the interior cabin in the 7.5 generation and the streamlined, flush display is instantly noticeable. Add this to the digital cockpit display which replaces the analogue dials and you have yourself a pretty futuristic setup – in a hatchback!  I’m a big fan of seamless processes and being able to jump into the Golf R, connect my phone and have Apple CarPlay with Spotify and Waze running in a matter of minutes is a big plus. There’s no fuss, no mess, you plug and go which is pretty much the 228kW Golf R overall.

In the past, previous generations of the Golf R haven’t been the most exciting looking vehicles, however the 228kW version now available in South Africa gets some additional black gloss trim, slightly redesigned bumpers and the rear exhaust tips placed further out to give a wider look at the rear.  The small details add to the overall look and feel of the car and makes the R look and feel that little bit more special. 

If you’re reading this article, you’ll probably know that for an extra fee ( R40k) you can have yourself a factory-fitted Akropovic exhaust system. Now if you’re worried that this will reduce practically and make the vehicle annoyingly loud, you can stop worrying. Firstly, the R is very well insulated and the system doesn’t drone, which means when your driving at a steady pace on the highway it’s not going to cause much bother. Secondly, I found most of the sound to come on hard acceleration, and if you’re accelerating hard you’re probably going to want to hear it as well. Also, the additional crackles and pops on gear changes make the system WELL worth it. 

What really rounds off the Golf R package is practicality. We mustn’t forget that the R is a Golf – one of the most practical hatchbacks around. There’s plenty of space for rear passengers and ample boot space as well. Not all “ family cars” are cool, this one is. 

If you’re someone who is looking for the practicality, comfort, and safety of a Golf, but find yourself craving power and performance of a sports car, the 228kW Golf R is a splendid choice.