The quintessential Super-hatch – the Volkswagen Golf R, is a true all-rounder and an exceptionally appealing package, however, in today’s ultra-competitive performance vehicle segment, there are so many options to choose from. So why, then, might one consider the original, the legend – the Golf R?
Well, it’s iconic. There’s no denying the Golf’s cult status as the benchmark vehicle within its segment. Add to this a little more poke, and you get the GTI which is arguably one of the best-balanced vehicles one can buy. But if you’re looking for something just a little more special, well then the Golf R is for you. It’s everything that the GTI is, but turned up to eleven, and we like things when they are turned up to eleven…
Great for daily driving
It’s perfectly civilized on a daily commute – its refined and comfortable and honestly, cars don’t get easier to drive. It’s compact dimensions also mean that it’s a doddle to park and you’ll never find yourself struggling to squeeze your pride and joy into a parking bay. Throw in the optional Dynaudio sound system (you should do this) if you’d like for your tunes to be delivered with the same aplomb as the supple ride in comfort mode.
Have a dog, cat or animal that may need to be placed in the rear of your vehicle? Well the Golf R is the consummate hatchback – with 1 233 litres of boot space with the rear seats folded, it’ll swallow just about anything you throw at it. It also has clever little hooks in the boot onto which you can hang your shopping parcels.
The only thing worse than being stuck in traffic, is being stuck in traffic in a performance car that gulps down the fuel, regardless of how fast you may or may not be moving. The Golf R is fantastically frugal when pottering around, yet has the performance on tap to decimate most cars on the road.
Performance & Styling
Which brings us to the whole point of this car, because let’s be honest, a standard Golf can do all of the above, too. 228 kW and 400 N.m are what’ll be unleashed if you give it some welly. 0-100 km/h is sorted out in 4.6 seconds and thanks to the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, and while there might be little-to no drama when launching, the sheer force of the acceleration coupled with the R’s delicious exhaust note makes for some spine-tingling stuff!
Add to all of this a smattering of R badges and a spectrum of snazzy hues from garish yellows to alluring blues and the package is complete. It really is a recipe for hatchback perfection that few, if any, can come even close to matching. In short, the R is comfortable, usable, practical, economical, blisteringly quick and undeniably desirable.
Those of you who are avid Motorists will recall that when we had the Golf GTI Clubsport on test some two years ago, we were all rather fond of it. Sure, it lacked the sniper-precise front-end of the Honda Civic Type-R and all-out track focused nature of Renault’a then aged Megane R.S 265, but as an all-round package and daily driver, the Clubsport really took some beating. It was rather special, too, when one considers that only 58 were bought into South Africa. In fact, Sam has one. Its red, and we love it.
Just this week at the Festival of Motoring, held at Kyalami Racetrack, Volkswagen South Africa announced that they will be bringing 300 Golf GTI TCR’s to Mzanzi. Yes, it’s another limited edition Golf GTi, but this is somewhat of a final hoorah for the long in the tooth but still completely wonderful Golf 7.
213 kW and 370 Nm from the familiar EA888 2.0-litre motor is sent to the front wheels with the TCR being touted as the fastest GTI ever, blitzing the 0-100 km/h dash in just 5.6 seconds.
Visual differentiators from the standard GTI are a whole lot of black things, namely the wheels, roof-spoiler, mirror caps and the front splitter. It also has ‘TCR’ decals on the rear doors.
Pricing and local specification hasn’t been confirmed but it’ll supposedly be priced at less than R700 000 when it arrives on local shores during the first quarter of 2020.
Will it be as special and exciting as the Clubsport? We are excited to find out…
Here’s what is unique on the Polo Vivo Sound Edition
If there is one thing we know about the youth of today, it’s that they love their music. They also love the Polo Vivo, as it’s an affordable, stylish and reliable vehicle. The issue with the Polo Vivo and other affordable hatchbacks is that they often lack in the sound department. So then, we’re sure many will welcome the introduction of VW’s latest Polo Vivo.
Volkswagen South Africa have told us that a special edition varient of the Polo Vivo will be available. From September 2019, will see the introduction of the Polo Vivo Sound Edition – a special edition of South Africa’s best selling passenger vehicle. Having sold 17 672 Polo Vivo’s between the beginning of the year and the end of July it’s quite clear that the Vivo is a firm South African favourite.
Another firm favourite here in Mzanzi is some good tunes while driving, and what better addition could there be to the Vivo than a premium 6-speaker audio system, complete with sub-woofer and app connect.
Visually, equaliser decals, 16-inch anthracite Rivazza wheels and mirror-caps finished in Energetic Orange will distinguish the Vivo Sound Edition from other run of the mill Polo Vivo models.
The Polo Vivo Sound Edition is based on the 1.4-litre Comfortline Manual and as an optional extra, the Black Interior Styling Package can be had at R2 500 which features an anthracite headliner and sun-visors, privacy glass and leather steering wheel, gearknob and handbrake lever.
It’ll be available exclusively in Pure White, Limestone Grey and Reef Blue and will retail for R220 000 with a 3 year/120 000 km warranty and 6-year anti-corrosion warranty.
A Volkswagen Maintenance Plan as well as Service plan are available as options. Check it out here!
Mary Poppins; practically perfect in every way. That is the EXCACT way I would explain what it is like to drive the new iteration from Porsche, the 992 Generation Porsche 911. I could also end this article here as there is no way I could best describe the new 992, but in my limited vocabulary, will endeavour to lay out a just case as to why you need one in your life.
What is it? It’s the perfect blend of sports car, track car, and milestone car all rolled into one shape that has stood the test of time. Since the birth of the first 911 in 1963, it’s a vehicle that has improved with each generation. When I last drove its predecessor, I struggled to see how they could make the 911.2 better as it was just right. There was no hint of turbo lag, the steering was communicative and it was like driving a “normal” car on a daily basis. But, of course, they have made the Porsche 911 992 better in all respects.
The first thing you notice is the front. So subtle but all so new, from its pronounced intakes and “oh wow” LED lights to striking daytime running lights layed out around the LED light element, it’s a subtle difference but one that is massive when you are used to the vehicle that come from Zuffenhausen. You carry on around and you notice the door handles that when closed, sit flush into the bodywork and pop out when triggered by the key, which just so happens to be in the shape of a 911. Not new, but another, “oh wow” moment that you take in. Walking past that, you take in the rear stance, the flared arches and hips and you get the rear, Tron-like rear light tail over the rear. The speed dependent wing/spoiler will raise and fall at certain speeds but fortunately, there is a button to keep that all the way up and just add that visual flair that the Porsche 911 992 deserves to have all the time. Signed off in the same font from yesterday, it’s striking to say the least.
The interior is where the most dramatic changes have taken place. Like its Porsche siblings, the 992 gets two, full screens that look so slick and modern that you would think you have walked into the flagship Apple store in San Francisco. Modern with a hint of the past, the clocks are a mixture of analogue and digital with the tachometer harking back to the G series in terms of look and feel but with the adjacent dial telling you what you are listening to on your phone while its neighbour has the maps for you, it’s an environment that you would be hard pressed to find better in this category of sports car. The only ‘hmmm’ moment you have in the cabin is the tiny, and I mean tiny gearshift selector. It looks like a Remington razor and I have hands that an NBA player would be proud of so that is literally the only item that I could without. That, however, quickly fades into pale existence when you depress that brake and hit that key and the flat six, turbocharged motor comes to life.
Porsche 911 922 review – how does it drive?
Being Cape Town, we had the perfect roads for our Porsche 911 992 review. We had two variants to choose from, the Carrera 2S and the Carrera 4S, both with 331 kW and 550 Nm of torque, my driving partner and I decided on the latter and headed for some lonely, damp roads. Gone are the massive scares where you hear of 911’s misbehaving. Nowhere in your mind is there a hint that this is a Sports Car that has its motor hanging over its rear wheels. Its precise and poised, not once threatening to have the rear overtake the front. The chassis has some understeer built into it for the driver who pushes a bit harder than what the road would allow, but it’s confidence inspiring without being dangerous. Being a 911, it will steer via the rear but this wasn’t the time and place for that and even though I may or may not have tried, the sure planted-ness of the 4’s system rewrites some rules and test your brave reading in your skillset. We spent the afternoon with slightly slower to 100 km/h (3.6 seconds as opposed to 3.4 seconds) but rear-wheel-drive 2S and were presented with some some really quick bits of road to explore the limits of the chassis. I can comfortably conclude that even though we drove harder than the average human might, we were not even close to what there two vehicles are capable of. The 2S is lighter by 50 kilograms but you would need to be a top DTM driver to feel that sort of weight difference. What I did feel that the rear drive only car was slightly more eager to turn into corners, even if the angle was slightly wider that you were planning, you could tighten that with some throttle and drive it out of those tight apex’s using a combination of throttle and steering. Magical.
Driving a 911 is always a special occasion and while conducting our Porsche 911 992 review, the vehicle did not disappoint. From the engine note that doesn’t suffer from being force fed in terms of noise, to the steering, to the looks, the 911 has the appeal of being an aspirational vehicle that marks a significant milestone that you may have reached in your company. It’s a vehicle that you plan around and with the current vehicle, our company plans need to come to fruition soon as I don’t think I can carry on longer without one of these in my garage!
How much does the Porsche 911 992 cost?
Now the bit we all want to avoid. The Porsche 911 is pricey. Starting at 1.5 million of the economy battered Rands, it’s not a whim purchase. For that amount of money, you are a bit spoilt for choice but after you have explored all the brands and what they offer, I could bet my hard earned but barred Rands, that you would be in a Porsche Centre specifying your colour and options on your Carrera. It’s the best in class and stands head and shoulders above anything in its price bracket. Well done to Porsche. Where to from here? We don’t know but then again, we haven’t been disappointed by any of the 911’s so there is just no reason to see why they would disappoint us in the future.
While the idea of owning a supercar and, at a push, driving supercar everyday may sound fab and glamourous, the reality of the situation is that no-matter where in the world you live, they aren’t particularly practical things. Sure, some of them have more luggage space than others and with independent suspension this and adaptive damping that, the majority of them are actually rather comfortable as “runabouts” – however, as a package, the supercar is still heavily flawed.
What you need, then, is a hot-hatch – but let’s face it, if you’re the sort of person who has become accustomed the accelerative forces of V12 and V8 supercars, a Golf GTI, as lovely as it is, is hardly going to have you by the seat of your pants before setting your hair on fire…
In essence, there really is only one car for the job here – the Volkswagen Golf R. Offering unrivalled build-quality, not just at this price point but at any, superb practicality, impressive efficiency and all the creature comforts you could ever hope for, it really does live up to its legendary name as the super hatch to beat. Having been the consummate super hatch since its launch in 2013, the facelifted 7.5 Generation Golf R has just received one final update for the South African market before the introduction of the Golf 8 in 2020.
Now with the full 228 kW from Volkswagen’s 2.0-litre direct injection turbocharged motor being fed to all four wheels through Volkswagen’s advanced 4Motion AWD system, the Golf R is capable of catapulting itself to 100 km/h in a mere 4.6 seconds. While this figure is hugely impressive on paper, its far more impressive in reality. The Volkswagen Golf R hurtles itself at the horizon with breathtaking ferocity and then keeps going.
So we know that it’s fast and well built, but just how practical is it? Well when one considers that an average supercar has around 150-litres of awkwardly shaped luggage space, the Golf R’s 340-litres (1 233 – litres with the seats down) is humungous. What’s more, this space is wide, long and has a low boot ledge so as to avoid awkward fumbling when taking objects out of the boot. The boot floor isn’t too low either, which is nice.
In addition to more kW, the Volkswagen Golf R now receives the option of a lovely factory fitted Akrapovic Exhaust system. How lovely you may ask? Well, it snarls, crackles, pops and adds a raucous nature to the R which we felt may have been missing from the car in the past. Couple this with the R’s addictive induction noise, turbo flutters and wastegate whooshes and you have yourself a characterful and somewhat antisocial demeanor to it. See? Lovely.
One can also option the R with black brake calipers which go nicely with the additional black trim bits that the 228 kW Golf R now comes with.
Speaking of those black trim bits, while the Volkswagen Golf 7 has been praised since its introduction for the fact that it is able to stand out from the crowd when you want it to, or blend in when you don’t, these minor changes to the R’s exterior really do set it apart from the ‘run of the mill’ Golf R’s.
The eye-candy doesn’t stop at the door, though. Hop into the cabin and you’ll be greeted with Carbon-fibre look bucket seats and a thick rimmed, meaty steering wheel that feels so great in the hand when exploring the upper limits of the R’s superb chassis. The familiar 12.3-inch Active Info Display replaces traditional analogue instruments and features slick, crisp graphics and an impressive Dynaudio sound system can be had for those audiophiles who aren’t sufficiently pleased by the Akrapovic exhaust system.
Dynamically, the Volkswagen Golf R has always struck the perfect balance between engaging and exciting, yet perfectly manageable. It has an uncanny ability to make even the most novice of drivers seem like driving aces and thanks to its AWD underpinnings, is very forgiving should the driver run out of talent. Of course, this is the sort of driving that will never be done on the daily commute, and thanks to the DSG Gearbox, traffic and pottering around town are lapped up with aplomb. The adaptive dampers provide superb feedback when in the sportier modes, and then absorb the bumps brilliantly when in comfort, but without being wallowy or crashy.
The Volkswagen Golf R really is the vehicle for all seasons and the super-hatch for all people. Whether its hair-raising performance you’re after or a stylish cruiser with a banging audio system, it really does tick all the boxes that you could ever want ticked. The only question is, now – what colour would you take yours in?
Pricing and specs:
2.0 TSI R 228 kW DSG R681 000 228 kW/400 N.m
5 year/90 000 km Service Plan as standard 3 year/120 000 km warranty 12-year anti-corrosion warranty 15 000 km service intervals
Our thoughts after spending a week with the Audi RS5 Sportback.
There was a time in my life when I would love nothing more than to zip around in my hot hatch, rear seats removed and all, with coilover suspension that provided sharp handling and a terrible ride. It wasn’t practical but I loved it. To this day those types of vehicles can be such a buzz to drive, just not every day. Emotive experiences along with daily practicality, its a balance many try to find and a goal brands constantly try to achieve. This is why we find many of our performance-orientated vehicles fitted with enough varying engine, drivetrain and suspension settings to match our every mood – nearly.
One vehicle which recently added a little more practically to its offering is the Audi RS5 in the form of the Sportback. The RS5 Couple isn’t what I’d describe as impractical, but it doesn’ t have 4 doors and for many, that does not rate well on their (Partner’s) practicality list.
How does the Audi RS5 Sportback look?
While the RS5 Sportback is instantly recognised as an Audi RS5, keen car people will most likely notice a few changes. Along with the obvious longer wheelbase, the RS5 Sportback is also 7mm’s lower to the ground and the rear arches are 15mm’s wider. There’s also some distinct styling differences, most notably on the front end with changes to the bumper and the grille. Personally, it looks better than the RS5 Couple. While having the vehicle on test, I’d often find myself just starring at how sporty it looks just sitting in the car park.
This seemed to be something everyone else on the road and on the pavement noticed too, the normally understated “ Audi” received quite a bit of attention as I went about my daily routine. Audi have seemed to make the RS5 Sportback more practical, yet even more sexy. Bravo!
How does it drive?
Most of the Audi RS5 Sportback changes are cosmetic, as you’ll find the same 2.9l V6 power plant is bolted in the front, along with the same output figures of 331kW and 600N.m.
While you may think the Sportback would come across a little more sluggish than its Coupe counterpart, and while the figures on paper would say so, in real life this wasn’t the case. The typical, blisteringly quick Audi RS straight line speed I’ve come to experience in more than one of their vehicles was ever-present. As expected, the Quattro system ensured I never at once felt like the situation was about to get a little hairy, or the vehicle was out of my control. This is something that Audi do very well – offering accessible, easy to drive, very fast vehicles.
With the vehicle in its comfort settings, it can be very much enjoyed as a comfortable Audi suitable for your daily needs. The only hints you may receive to remind you that you’re driving an RS vehicle will be the slightly dulled but present hum pushed out of the rear, and the feeling of an irresistible, oncoming surge if you just dare to push the pedal a little bit too far into the floor.
A big plus for me is the ability to drive the Audi RS5 Sportback easily in all weather conditions. The RS5 gives you feelings of confidence and control when the weather goes south. Would these feelings of confidence be betrayed in an M3 or C63s? Probably not.
Due to this vehicle being based on the RS5 Coupe which arrived in South Africa in 2018, I found the infotainment system to be lacking compared to systems in competitor vehicles and the newer systems Audi are rolling out in their 2019 vehicles, such as the Q8. I think the RS5 arrived at an awkward time, just as the old systems were fading out, and the new ones fading in.
The RS5 Sportback does feature the full digital cockpit which is great, but you won’t find dual screens located in the centre of the vehicle. This isn’t a major issue, as the current system does do the job required and this is something we could see upgraded in facelifted vehicles.
How does it make me feel?
It’s worth noting that while the Audi RS5 Sportback will reach 100km/h in under 4 seconds and still not feel like it’s going to kill you, in my opinion, it still possesses an emotive and exciting driving experience. The Benefit of the Quattro system is that corner speed and exit speed is impressive, and you’ll sooner find your face pulling to the side before the car even hints of getting out of shape. I touched on it earlier, but the power is very usable no matter the skill level.
Personally, the noise produced when all the settings are turned up is wonderful. I also found that if the driver pushes the gearbox into Sport, and then over to the left into manual mode, even more overrun pops and bangs can be heard which is never a bad thing.
The RS5 Sportback very much provides a stealthy, superhero styled experience. Drive the RS5 Sportback and you’ll feel like you can own the day, that’s how it made me feel. From the streamlined cabin and fighter jet styled gear shifter, right through to the straight-line speed and understated yet sporty appearance – it hits the spot. I would never imagine Batman driving a BMW M3 or Mercedes-AMG C63s, but an RS5 Sportback….I don’t know, it works in my mind.
What else could I buy for the same money?
In terms of direct competitors, you’re looking at the BMW M3 Competition Package, Mercedes-AMG C63s and Alfa Romeo Giulia QV. While all of which produce similar power and torque outputs, a big difference is that they are also all rear-wheel drive, compared to the RS5 Sportback’s Quattro all-wheel drive system. This makes the Audi much better suited for adverse weather, and it’s a lot more sensible. The M3 and the C63s particularly are considered the tyre screeching, smoke billowing hooligans of the segment.
In the Audi brand, the Audi RS3 Sedan might be a great choice if you’re looking for similar performance but a smaller vehicle. The RS3 houses a 2.5L 5-Cylinder engine which is a fantastic engine and has the accolades to prove it. On the other side of the coin, if you’re looking for even more space, the brand-new Audi RS4 Avant could be what you’re looking for. The RS4 Avant features the same engine and drivetrain the RS5 and produces the same power.
Is the RS5 worth it?
The Audi RS5 Sportback starts at a price of R 1,314,784 and you’ll need to add on to this any optional extras you choose. From a monthly point of view you’ll most likely be looking at payments from R 25k – deposit depending. If we look at RS5 Couple models currently for sale, we can see that 2018 models with roughly 8-12000 km’s on the clock are hovering around the R1 million mark.
Does the RS5 provide value for money? For me, this is a personal question and really depends on the person. A road user who isn’t a petrol head and only views a vehicle as a means of transport from A to B would probably view the RS5 as a waste of money. However, the opinion of one who appreciates this type of vehicle, along with the performance and experience it offers would vastly differ. If you want to reach 100km/h in under 4 seconds today, you’re going to pay for it.
The Audi RS5 Sportback isn’t your standard run of the mill vehicle, therefore we can’t imagine demand is going to be that high when it comes to resale. It’s one of those vehicles that doesn’t always make sense to own, but in return provides an emotive, unique experience which many other vehicles simply can’t offer. If resale is something of high importance to you, the RS5 is probably not best suited to your situation and you could perhaps look at an S5 or even an A5 if you’re a fan of the model.
If you didn’t know, Volkswagen South Africa have updated the Golf 7.5 R. This will most likely be the last variant of the 7th generation Golf R we’ll see in South Africa until the Golf 8 arrives. The feature update to this vehicle is that we now get full power. Yes, South African Golf R’s now produces 228kW which falls in line with the European models, compared to the 213kW models originally available in South Africa. Along with this big change are some minor exterior tweaks in terms of lips and diffusers. There’s also another really exciting addition, the optional Akrapovic exhaust system.
Akrapovic systems are quite popular among the German brands here in South Africa, especially the likes of the Golf GTI and Golf R. They’re extremely high quality, aid performance and sound great. The problem with fitting one of these aftermarket systems to cars under warranty is that it can often cause issues if a warranty claim arises, the difference here is that the Akropovic system available for the 228kW Golf R is manufacturer fitted, thus it’s approved by VW South Africa.
After spending a week with the 228kW Golf R, I can say that the Akrapovic pipes really are a nice addition to an already decent sounding vehicle. What’s impressive about the system is that there’s no exhaust drone when at driving at a steady speed – such as on the highway. In fact, I’d go as far to say that there isn’t much additional noise when cruising and this is a big positive.
The difference is noticed on acceleration, upshifts, downshifts and overrun. When accelerating a more aggressive, raspy sound can be heard from the Akrapovic tips. Upshifts incur a loud vrpraa and the pops, bangs and bubbles heard on overrun are simply delightful.
If you’re worried this system will be too loud, don’t be. It’s very tasteful and while it’s noticeably louder outside the vehicle, inside the cabin it blends nicely with the engine and induction noise and isn’t obtrusive or annoying when your foot isn’t buried into the floor – we know this probably isn’t much of the time.
For us, if you’re buying a 228kW Golf R, the Akrapovic system is a must and really is the finishing touches to an already very well rounded performance vehicle.
To give you a better insight into the sound, here’s a clip of the Akropovic pipes fitted to the 228kW Golf R at standstill.