Driven - August 2019

Here’s why the Volkswagen Golf R is better than a supercar!

Volkswagen Golf R the Super Hatch!

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