The Golf R is not the fastest or the most exciting hot hatch. But in a testament to Volkswagen’s engineering and because it’s got AWD, the R often gets compared to the much more expensive Mercedes-AMG A45.
Thanks to the recent facelift, Autocar had the pretext it needed to compare the two once more. Unfortunately, they got the manual version, which is much slower. But that was also a blessing in disguise, as it gave the reviewers more direct control over what the car was doing.
The keyboard warriors can quickly look at two numbers- 4.2 and 5.1 – and tell you which is the better car. They’re probably going to dismiss this story and article, or come here to rant about AMGs being the best in the world.
But it’s always been our opinion that a hot hatch should be the all-rounder of the performance world. How well it can deal with an everyday commute or the capacity to occasionally carry larger items is important. So to the tune of dubstep music, Autocar’s reviewers come to the conclusion that the cheaper Golf R now has all the grunt and German tech you need.
While some of you might have a problem with a 310 PS Golf being declared better than a 381 PS AMG model, we can tell you from experience that launch control is just as finicky as they make it out to be… sort of pointless too. You can only keep the revs up like that for a few seconds. And if you play with the system too much, you’ll get a gearbox error.
The thing is, every aging car reviewer is going to say the Golf R is a great all-rounder because they have bad backs from sitting in front of the computer all day. The “Car Throttle” line of thought is that the Ford Focus RS and Civic Type R are so much cooler. It’s perfectly alright if you want one of those.
But if you’re not about changing gear yourself or having the biggest wing possible, the Golf R is now better than ever. It’s got a new 7-speed gearbox, 10 PS and 20 Nm more than before. But don’t expect a grand bargain.