I got a special delivery to the office recently. A delivery in the tune of 310hp and 380Nm. A delivery that looks like a regular Volkswagen Golf but has a few subtle changes. I introduce you to the 2018 Volkswagen Golf R.
I turned the car on and the engine bursts into life. In Race mode, the throaty exhaust is at its best with the rumble that reminds me of a V8 being pumped through the car’s speakers. I side glance to see a few school kids staring at the blacked out monster growling away. I pull off down the street in a civilised manner. I turn onto the main road and give the throttle a little blip. I’m propelled forward in a burst of anger. The four wheels keeping me glued to the road while the tempered quad exhaust sound haunts me until I slam on the brakes. I cackle to myself. This week, will be like no other.
When I got home, I pulled into the drive and my neighbours thought nothing of it. I’m not proud of what I did next. Actually scratch that, I am. I tap the accelerator a couple of times and the exhaust shouts, roars and then splutters with pops and bangs. I grin, the neighbours stare and my mother scowls out the window at me. The Golf R is for people who need practicality, want to have fun but equally want to make a statement. The Deep Black Pearlescent with Black 19-inch Pretoria alloys help make this statement. The statement is saying that I’m discrete, don’t annoy me or I WILL get angry.
It would be wrong of me not to compare the Golf R against the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI but I haven’t in fact driven one, other than a Mk5 Golf GTI. But this leads me to the transmission. When I drove said GTI, it had a DSG. I fell in love. I didn’t think I would but it was the up and downshifts that got me. The blips and pops from the exhaust got addictive that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Up until I drove the Golf R with the 6-speed manual.
I was slightly disappointed to learn that the car I was collecting was a manual because I wanted to relive my GTI moment but with another 110hp and an extra gear added. I was very wrong. The manual is just as, if not more, fun as the DSG. The gearchange clicks into place, you can feel the movement from first, through neutral and into second. From second, through neutral and into third. Plant your foot in third and the trees and bushes around you on your favourite road become a Autumnal blur.
All four 19-inch alloys stay planted firmly on the smooth tarmac, the windows begin to fog up, my palms are sweaty; I am in the zone. My mind is fully focused on the road ahead and its surroundings. I come up to a bend, I blip the throttle, slide the shifter back into second, let off the power and continue around the bend. The perfect rev match. I smirk. The wheels are still grounded. As I come out of the bend, I put the power back down and repeat all of the above.
I could do this all morning. The roads are empty but the fuel gauge and the TFT display showing an average consumption of 9.5l/100km are staring me in the eye. Obviously, buyers will consider this but I’m not as well off as my press car history might suggest so I head for home.
I continued to daily the R during the week, each day as grin-filled as the next. It was a truly special week, one that highlighted why I love my job. However, my main criticism lies on the value for money. The Golf R can be had from €46,570 with this presser coming in at €48,058. The extra €1,488 comes from the metallic paint, 19-inch alloys, sat nav and infotainment. The interior plastics are the same as the regular Golf. The glovebox and centre console cubby aren’t cooled, unlike older fast Golfs. The cloth and alcantara bucket seats are comfortable but very, well, meh. It doesn’t feel special when you sit into it. It feels all basic. Until you turn the key. And so, you know the rest.