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You can now get the full-fat 228 kW Volkswagen Golf R. Is there merit in choosing it over the superb GTI?

When you think Volkswagen Golf, the first thing which generally comes to mind is “GTI” and not the flagship R. Despite the latter being the ultimate Golf, it’s never quite been able to match the reputation the GTI has set over its 45-year lifespan, likely because it’s never been as accessible as the latter and not as outrageous as its predecessor, the R32.

However, the R now boasts the fully fledged 228 kW and 400 N.m of torque as seen in its doppelgänger, the Audi S3 Sportback, which should give it some more credibility on the streets considering it’s a full 59 kW more powerful than the GTI.

This was a necessary change to elevate the R’s standing but the fact it’s being made available to us only now is a bit strange considering the Audi S3 gained this state of tune when the A3 range was facelifted in 2017. It’s almost as if Volkswagen didn’t want to upstage Audi by giving its derivative the same performance figures, despite claiming our fuel quality wasn’t up to scratch to accommodate the 228 kW output locally. We were even more confused when the Golf range got its facelift and the R not only came with the 213 kW state of tune, but also cost more than the S3. The only way to justify the price difference was that the Golf R arrived with more standard kit; just like the model we’re testing here. As before, features such as VW’s Active Info Display are standard on the R, but that of course hikes the asking price. As it stands, it’s a whopping R110 700 pricier than the GTI and R5 500 more than the S3.

Getting back to pricing in a bit, let’s first look at what’s new on the R. The most obvious place to start is the optional Akrapovic titanium exhaust system upgrade, if you can stomach the R39 900 price. The fat pipes look great but, while louder, a drone at cruising speeds slightly dents the Golf’s otherwise superb refinement. We did, however, enjoy the pops and crackles in race mode when shifting gears in the higher reaches of the rev range. Likewise, features such as adaptive chassis control (R13 200) and R Performance brakes (R9 900) are nice to have but hardly essential, the MQB chassis’ stability is fantastic and the standard brakes more than powerful enough.

You would expect, with a 15 kW and 20 N.m increase over the outgoing R, the new model would be notably quicker on our test strip. At just 0,05 seconds brisker to 100 km/h, the difference is marginal, although an acceleration time of 4,93 seconds is still ferociously quick. In-gear acceleration is stronger but the improvement over the old car is small. The 100-0 km/h average braking time was almost the same with an average time of 2,84 seconds; 0,03 seconds slower than before. It’s worth noting this test unit sat on Continental ContiSport Contact 6s while our previous test unit boasted a set of Pirelli P-Zeros.

The claimed fuel economy has also taken a bit of a knock with this increase in power: CAR’s fuel index (based on the manufacturer’s official figure) places it 0,36 L/100 km heavier than before. It was, therefore, a surprise when the new model used a whole 0,8 L/100 km less on our standardised fuel route.

So, without a significant increase in performance, do our reservations about choosing the R over the GTI and S3 remain? Yes. While the flagship Golf R offers a satisfying drive with sharp dynamics, a responsive engine-transmission combination and well-damped ride – even without the adaptive chassis – it doesn’t feel quite special enough to justify the additional cost over its VW stablemate. We might even argue the GTI is the better to drive thanks to its lighter mass. Of course, the R makes sense in colder climates where rain and snow see the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system come into its own to maintain limpet-like grip.

Manufacturer Specifications

Standard - standard Optional - optional
  • Leather upholstery: Standard
  • Seats quantity: 5
  • Split rear seat: Standard
  • Folding rear seat: Standard
  • Air conditioning: Standard
  • Climate control automatic air conditioning: Standard
  • Cup bottle holders: front + rear
  • Lumbar support adjustment: front
  • Front armrests: Standard
  • Heated ventilated seats: front heated
  • Antilock braking system (ABS): Standard
  • Electronic brake distribution (EBD): Standard
  • Brake assist (BAS/EBA): Standard
  • Traction control: Standard
  • Stability control: Standard
  • Tyre pressure sensor monitor deflation detection system: Standard
  • Driver airbag: Standard
  • Front passenger airbag: Standard
  • Driver knee airbag: Standard
  • Front side airbags: Standard
  • Curtain airbags: Standard
  • Airbag quantity: 7
  • Lane change blindspot warning assist monitor: Optional
  • Attention assist rest assist break alert: Standard
  • Automatic drive away locking: Standard
  • ISOFIX child seat mountings: outer rear
  • Directional turning headlights: adaptive LED
  • Adaptive headlights varying light distribution: adaptive LED
  • Start stop button: Optional
  • Engine auto Stop Start idle stop ecostop: Standard
  • Hillstart assist hillholder: Standard
  • Alloy wheelsrims: Standard
  • Sports suspension: Standard
  • Electronically adjustable suspension: opt adaptive
  • Driving mode switch eg sport comfort: Normal, Comfort, Sport, Individual, Eco
  • Power steering: Standard
  • Multifunction steering wheel controls: Standard
  • On board computer multi information display: Standard
  • Navigation: Optional
  • Cruise control: std (opt adaptive)
  • Active adaptive cruise control: Optional
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Standard
  • Voice control: Standard
  • CD player: Standard
  • Aux in auxiliary input: Standard
  • USB port: Standard
  • Powersocket 12V: boot
  • Central locking: remote (opt keyless)
  • Remote central locking: Standard
  • Key less access start hands free key: Optional
  • Electric windows: front + rear
  • Rain sensor auto wipers: Standard
  • Auto dim interior mirror: Standard
  • Electric adjust mirrors: Standard
  • Heated exterior mirrors: Standard
  • Sun roof: panoramic
  • Panoramic roof: Standard
  • Daytime driving running lights: LED
  • Light sensor auto on off lights: Standard
  • Xenon headlights: LED
  • Highbeam assist: Standard
  • Highlevel 3rd brakelight: Standard
  • Rear fog lamps lights: Standard
  • Park distance control PDC: front + rear (opt rear camera)
  • Camera for park distance control: opt rear
  • Rear spoiler: sport
  • Metallic pearl escent paint: Optional
  • Fuel Type: petrol
  • Fuel range average: 764 km
  • Driven wheels: all
  • Driven wheels quantity: 4
  • Gearratios quantity: 7
  • Gearshift: automatic
  • Transmission type: automated dual-clutch
  • Transmission name: DSG
  • Gear shift paddles: Standard
  • Electromechanical parking brake: Standard
  • Diff lock: front electronic + transverse
  • Front tyres: 235/35 R19
  • Reartyres: 235/35 R19
  • Length: 4257 mm
  • Width excl mirrors incl mirrors: 1799 mm
  • Height: 1491 mm
  • Wheel base: 2626 mm
  • Ground clearance minimum maximum: 142 mm
  • Turning circle wheels body: 10.9 m
  • Load volume / capacity: 343 L
  • Load volume / capacity: 343 L
  • Unladen/tare/kerb weight: 1495 kg
  • Gross weight (GVM): 1980 kg
  • Fuel tank capacity (incl reserve): 55l
  • Fuel consumption urban: 8.9 l/100km
  • Fuel consumption extra urban: 6.2 l/100km
  • Fuel consumption average: 7.2 l/100km
  • CO2 emissions average: 165g/km
  • Power maximum: 228 kW
  • Power maximum total: 228 kW
  • Power peak revs: 5500-6500 r/min
  • Power to weight ratio: 153 kW/ton
  • Torque maximum: 400 Nm
  • Torque peak revs: 2000-5400 r/min
  • Torque maximum total: 400 Nm
  • Acceleration 0-100 kmh: 4.6s
  • Maximum top speed: 250 km/h
  • Engine position/ location: front
  • Engine capacity: 1984 cc
  • Engine size: 2.0l
  • enginedetailshort: 2.0T
  • Engine + detail: 2.0 turbo
  • Cylinder layout: inline
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Cylinder layout + quantity: i4
  • Cam: dohc
  • Valves per cylinder: 4
  • Valves quantity: 16
  • Turbocharger: Standard
  • Warranty time (years): 3
  • Warranty distance (km): 120000 km
  • Service plan: Standard
  • Service plan time (years): 5
  • Service plan time (distance): 90000 km
  • Service interval indicator: Standard
  • Service interval (distance): 15000 km
  • Brand: Volkswagen
  • Status: c
  • Segment: passenger car
  • MMcode: 64045943
  • MMVariant: GOLF VII 2.0 TSI R DSG (228KW)
  • MMintrodat: 2019-01-07
  • Introdate: 2018-10-01
  • DuoportarecordID: VolkGolf7fh18

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Volkswagen Golf 7 Golf 20 Tsi R 7sp DSG 228kW R for sale in Grahamstown from one of Carmag.co.za's apporoved car dealerships
New Golf 7 Golf 20 Tsi R 7sp DSG 228kW R availbale from the following auto dealer:
Market Square Grahamstown new car dealership located in: Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa

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