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Who would have thought that with global warming hovering over our heads South Africa would be classified as a country with a “moderate climate”? I know right - we’re a warm to a hot climate.

 

Well, with all the other downgrades hitting us (poor South Africa), this particular downgrading was decided by VW Germany. This works in our favour though. You see, with a downgrade in temperature labelling, this means South Africa is now eligible to import a more powerful Golf R than before. The model imported last year offers 2013kW, but now we have a 228kW version with optional Titanium quad exhaust pipes.  If you are a fan of the VRRRR-POP sound, you’ll love these bodacious pipes.

 

From a basic car perspective - it’s a Golf. That essentially means that there is good accommodation for four or five adults, fabulous interior functionality that includes touchscreen infotainment system, a nicely sized boot (albeit, the R is a little smaller than the rest of the range due to the rear-wheel-drive system nicking a bit of it). Quality is top notch -with everything feeling just right in all senses of the word.

 

Perhaps the only criticism - considering the fact that it’s a flagship model - is the interior. Yes, there are fabulous bucket seats, combining Nappa leather with some fancy manmade fabric that looks like carbon fibre (an R6 700.00 option) and other little interior enhancements. Is that enough to separate it from its lesser models, especially considering its R676 000 starting price tag? If you are rolling in coin, I’d recommend these optional extras: Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert as well as Adaptive Cruise Control with Front Assist and Autonomous Emergency Braking System.

I mentioned the word flagship. Well, one thing is for sure: the Golf R doesn’t disappoint in the performance department. As mentioned before, power is put to 228kW from its 2.0-L turbocharged petrol motor. There is also an impressive 400N.m of torque that gets plastered to the tarmac through VW 4MOTION® all-wheel drive. This entire system is geared through a magnificent 7-speed dual clutch gearbox that rapidly swops gears in milliseconds. This high-performance trio is capable of exploding its power endowing the Golf R with a 0 to 100km/h sprint in 4.6 seconds. That’s astounding. “Like, are you joking” is what one passenger said when I floored the pedal. Just as quick as the Golf R is so too is its fantastic braking system. The Golf R is an ode to driving dynamics. The Golf R is brilliant. 

But, is the Golf really all the car you could ever need or want? What about its sibling - an accomplished athlete in GTI? Is it necessary to drive such a powerful vehicle on our congested roads? Is the Golf R the most exhilarating hot-hatch or is the Honda Civic Type R a more visceral drive? These are all valid questions to ask when deciding what to buy.

 

I’m far too sensible. If you aren’t at all, the Honda is for you. If you love speed and Teutonic drive, the Golf R is a perfect choice.

 

Plus +

  • Sexy
  • Beautifully built
  • Exhilarating to drive

 

Minus –

  • Not as visceral as the Honda Civic Type R
  • Not cheap

 

The Competition

BMW M140i, Audi S3 Sportback, Honda Civic Type R, Mègane RS Lux and the Mercedes-AMG A35 (when it is launched).

 

The Pricing

Golf R R676 000

 

Service and Warranty

The Golf R comes standard with a 5 year/90 000km Service Plan, 3 year/120 000km warranty and a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty. Service interval is 15 000km.

www.vw.co.za

 

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