WHEEL WOMAN REVIEW: VW Golf R
Durban - The Golf R is the type of car a certain type of man considers “wasted” on a woman.
We couldn’t possibly appreciate its brute power, or have a clue how to drive it as it’s designed to be driven. And clearly the boyfriend or husband has just lent it to us, magnanimously, to get to the shops.
That type of man gets a certain look on his face when one of us steps out of a car like this; a look that says a version of the above.
And some of them get silly on the road, apparently under the impression that with their masterful, manly driving skills on display in a CitiGolf with flash rims, they’ll easily out-drive a woman in a car like the R.
It was a woman who delivered the R to me, handing over the key with much reluctance. “I loved the GTI,” she said, “but this… this is in another league!”
And so it is. It’s the fastest production Golf ever made – roaring to 100 kays in five seconds. Apparently.
But many people wouldn’t know it to look at it. Yes, it’s got 19-inch alloys, sports bumpers with glossy black air intakes and four chromed tailpipes, but for all that, it’s pretty understated. It’s a Golf 7 with a few tweaks here and there.
Although, having said that, school security guard Patrick took one look and immediately raised both thumbs – his highest approval rating.
It’s not a twitchy racer, this R – in normal mode, you could nip around town in it and not realise just what it’s capable of, because it’s very well behaved, very refined, and the suspension doesn’t make you regret not wearing your maximum impact sports bra.
But, like that ballistics expert we’ve been exposed to on the telly of late, you’d have to be a little hearing impaired not to gather from the R’s exhaust note that’s its built for serious speed.
Because even when you’re cruising around town, those tailpipes whinny like a racehorse being forced to plod around a flea market with sticky-fingered kids on its back.
Now that is a waste.
READY TO RACE
And so it was that I found a nice quiet stretch of open road, and pressed the button marked Race.
Oh my word. The exhaust note and everything else in the car intensified, and off we went. Something obviously went horribly wrong with my socialisation, because taking to the bends in a fast, beautifully engineered car, with a stupendous exhaust note, really does do it for me.
This one more than most. What a ride!
As an added bonus, it has all-wheel drive capability, which kicks in when required – which it wasn’t during my test stint, but it’s very reassuring as an extra safety feature, keeping the car going in the direction you intend.
Time for some numbers – under the bonnet is a two-litre turbo petrol TSI engine, capable of 206kW as opposed to the GTI’s 162kW, mated to a six-speed auto/manual sequential direct-shift gearbox.
This latest R is 18kW more powerful than the earlier model, but 18 percent more fuel efficient: a claimed 6.9 litres per 100km. The interior is practical with some racy bits, like leather sports seats and steering wheel and “ambience” lighting.
It comes with a basic price tag of just under R500 000.
I didn’t relish handing over the key either. -Star Motoring
Volkswagen Golf R
Engine: 2-litre, four-cylinder turbopetrol
Gearbox: Six-speed double-clutch DSG
Power: 206kW @ 5500-6200rpm
Torque: 380Nm @ 1800-5500rpm
0-100km/h (tested): 5.2 seconds
Top speed (claimed): 250km/h
Consumption (tested): 11.3 litres per 100km
Price: R498 000
Warranty: Three-year/120 000km
Service plan: Five-year/90 000km
Audi S3 Sportback AT (206kW/380Nm) - R519 500
BMW M135i 5-door AT (235kW/450Nm) - R539 743
Opel Astra OPC (206kW/400Nm) - R482 400
Renault Megane RS Cup (195kW/360Nm) - R399 900