Untamed: 2019 Volkswagen Golf R-rrr

2019-05-29 06:01
The untamed 2019 Volkswagen Golf R.PHOTOS: quickpic

The untamed 2019 Volkswagen Golf R.PHOTOS: quickpic

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QUICK prod with the right foot; just to see what happens. Head snaps back and eyes slam shut, only to reopen, wide and staring, a split-second later. That’s in Eco mode. Comfort, Normal and Race of the 2019 Volkswagen Golf R get progressively, but thankfully only mildly, more “interesting”.

Park one next to a two-year-old version and you probably won’t notice any differences. The facelift for MY17 introduced new “R” designed bumpers, LED headlights and taillights, exterior mirror caps in Matte Chrome or optional Carbon, standard “Spielberg” 19-inch wheels or optional 19-inch “Pretoria” alloys in metallic grey. And that’s it. Those widely spaced quad-pipes have been around since 2014.

If you’re clued-in you might notice whether the 2019 car’s owner had ordered an optional, at R39 900, “R Performance Titanium” exhaust system made by Akrapoviç.

You’d recognise it by the extra holes drilled around the circumference of each tailpipe. It introduces a snarl to the exhaust note when pressure is applied and signs off with an emphatic “Blat-tt” when the foot is lifted. It’s unnecessary, antisocial and intrusive. But it makes a primal statement. And you simply have to tick that box, don’t you?

What else changed? Well, we get Euro-spec at last — 310 PS, aka 228 kilowatts and a torque bump up to 295 foot-pounds or 400 Newton-metres. That’s from 360 Nm previously. Volkswagen is cagey about whether it accelerates any faster than the old, 213 kW version did, still quoting a zero to 100 km/h time of 4.6 seconds. Logic dictates that it should.

But eyeball-flattening acceleration requires that the seven-speed DSG be left alone to perform its magic. Human interference adds unwanted milliseconds to the sprint time. Not that anyone really needs to; it’s always in the best gear for prevailing circumstances and it kicks down smoothly, steplessly and instantly. If that doesn’t soothe your inner hooligan, manual override is available via stick or paddles.

In case you wondered whether there are other differences, apart from increased turbo pressure, between this motor and the GTI’s, diligent snooping turned up a few.

Golf R’s engine has a modified cylinder head with different exhaust valves, valve seats and springs; special pistons and injection valves and larger intercooler and turbocharger.

Among the must-haves are: 4Motion all-wheel drive; dual zone, automatic climate control; seven airbags; XDS electronically locking differential for more agile driving performance and better traction out of bends; ABS brakes with added handling aids and multi-collision braking; R-Sports suspension; supportive “Vienna leather” sports seats with warming, elevation adjusters and lumbar control for those in front; cruise control with limiter; disc brakes all around and rear fog lights.

Practicalities: Because of the AWD kit in the rear end, R’s boot is 37 litres smaller than on other Golfs while neither tow bar nor trailer assist are available. Beyond that, the ride is a little harder than usual because of firmer suspension and low-profile tyres but it is what it is; a Golf, so it’s practical, with plenty of room for four-and-a-half adults and luggage.

Finally: It’s addictive, solid and well-built but way too fancy for our taste — too many standard or optional electronic toys that have nothing to do with what it’s meant to be. We’d prefer it stripped-down, more affordable and closer to its roots.

THE NUMBERS

Base price: R676 500

Engine: 1 984 cc, DOHC 16-valve, four-cylinder, turbocharged

Power: 228 kW between 5 500 and 6 500 rpm

Torque: 400 Nm between 2 000 and 5 400 rpm

Zero to 100 km/h: 4.6 seconds

Maximum speed (governed): 250 km/h

Real life fuel consumption: About 8.8 l/100 km

Tank: 55 litres

Luggage: 343 - 1 233 litres

Ground clearance: 142 mm

Turning circle: 10.9 metres

Standard tyre size: 235/35R19

Spare: Spacesaver

Warranty: Three years / 120 000 km

Service plan: Five years / 90 000 km at 15 000 km intervals

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