The performance versions of the Volkswagen Golf 7.5 are landing in dealerships now and on the Australian launch I got a drive of both the GTI and the R version.
If you’re not acquainted with the sporty Golf variants the biggest difference is that the GTI is front-wheel drive and the R is all-wheel drive.
The R also gets more power – now 213kW and 380Nm.
That power output (up 7kW over outgoing model) helps push the R to 100km/h in as little as 4.8 seconds (auto) and 5.2 seconds (manual).
There’s a few other differences between the two, other than price, including large wheels and lower profile tyres, quad exhaust pipes, leather interior, and a performance monitor (as seen below).
The suspension is also a little firmer in the R, mostly due to the car requiring a slightly different tune to assist with the all-wheel drive powertrain.
The Golf R also benefits from the Active Info Display – that’s the attractive digital instrument panel.
So, is it worth shelling out the extra dollars for the R, or is the GTI enough?
To be honest, I don’t think I’d opt for the Golf R.
The lower profile tyres (35 Series) and the stiffer suspension make the R a harder car to live with, especially on Australia’s generally quite poor roads.
Hit even a minor bump and you really feel it through the cabin, even with the suspension set to ‘Comfort’.
The all-wheel drive is a nice thing to have, however if you’re not contemplating track day activities then is it really necessary? I don’t think so.
While I didn’t feel that the Golf GTI really wanted for any extra go, thus I don’t know if, for most people, the extra power/torque is that much of a carrot either.
Sure, there will be some who want to go the whole way, but for me (and most likely the bulk of buyers) the Golf GTI with a few additions like the Infotainment Pack (which gives you the digital dash) might just be the sweet spot.
As compared to the outgoing model, Volkswagen‘s new seven-speed DSG transmission is a welcome improvement (up from six-speed).
While the new colours, fresh alloy wheel designs and updated infotainment system all combine to make the R a more enticing offering for those wanting the sportiest of the sporty.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2018 Volkswagen Golf R
- Engine: 2.0 litre turbo-petrol producing 213kW/380Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed manual or seven-speed auto
- Safety: Five stars
- Warranty: Three years
- Origin: Germany
- Price: from $52,990 (manual), $55,490 (auto)