Published on February 3rd, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Volkswagen Golf R On ICE @ Arvidsjaur, Sweden. ‘R’ U Ready To Party?
The invitation came and the hesitation followed when we saw the possible temperature at our overseas drive location. Minus 22-25degress expected. This was going to be the coldest destination for us in our years of motoring. However we were eager to attend as it was for the all new Volkswagen Golf ‘R’ and we were going to be driving on a frozen lake. With published performance figures that sit right alongside some supercars, this all new ‘R’ tuned 4×4 hot hatchback accelerates from 0-100km/h from just 4.9 seconds with an impressive torque of 380Nm from as low as 1800 revolutions.
The Mk7 Golf GTI’s styling divides opinions between many Malaysian buyers, but it’s the traditional VW Golf GTi buyer that is sitting on the fence while the all new Golf GTi has drawn a lot of new admirers which is a new segment of the market that VW Malaysia is trying to capture. With this all new Golf ‘R’, the R induced looks do little to excite us visually. Still, there is a lot more to capture from this car beyond its exterior looks. ‘Beauty is skin deep’!
With a menacing nose treatment and mild mannered body styling kit added, this is a hot hatch that deceives the uninformed. For many segment buyers, the new Golf R will be something of an acquired taste. Sitting lower on revised ‘Sports’ suspension, the Golf R looks noticeably more purposeful than milder GTi. The five-chunky spoke alloys are lovely as well and the large twin exhausts protruding from either side of the sculpted rear skirt indicates some of the potential lurking under the front bonnet.
Inside the VW R cabin there is more excitement to be enjoyed visually as the VW R division have added sporty touches to differentiate it from the VW GTi.
Build quality is very good and the choice of plastics, leather and metals have come together to present a really sporty cabin environment.
Like all other hot hatchbacks that we test drive, we spent our time in the VW R with the stereo off; to get a good indication of the vocal delights on offer from induction, exhaust and the combustion at work.
It starts with a mild rumble…really mild and unassuming and then when you prod the accelerator hard, the still frozen morning air is woken up abruptly. It’s intoxicating without being overboard. The sense of occasion is high and you know that this car is going to excite. Yes, the VW Golf GTI delivers the best aural excitement in recent times and there seemed to be little competition, until now.
‘R’ On ICE
This ice-driving program is unlike any other of the many “driving experiences” that we have taken part in the past 13 years as motoring editor. There are many people in Europe who pay a lot of money to take classes in ice driving to improve their driving skills. For us, this driving experience was to get to know Volkswagen’s 4-Motion technology, or just plain ‘fun behind the wheel’.
First a team of accomplished instructors guided us through icy cone exercises. Unsurprisingly, the VW 4 Motion system with its ability to shift power distribution among all four wheels was quite advantageous on the smooth ice. We slid, we drifted smoothly, we ’danced’ on the ice as we took corner after corner. We started with the ESC switched on and soon realised that it was more fun to drive with the ESC off (Electronic Stability Control) enabling us to have more control on tight corners and during the slalom runs.
There were only very short straights to feel the acceleration capabilities of this Golf R. We enjoyed each and every moment and started respecting this car’s capabilities on ice as the hours of driving continued.
Whenever the R was out of my control there was little to worry about as we had space…lots of space of pure white soft snow-banks to catch us. So all we did was to just ease up on the steering, let off the accelerator and gently apply the brake without making any drastic movements with the steering wheel. When the ICE driving course concluded in the late afternoon, what stuck with us most were all of the pointers that helped us successfully handle this powerful vehicle in such slippery conditions.
There is no doubt that this VW R will be a hot topic when it arrives in our showrooms. Just a test drive will convince many to own one and we am quite sure many Porsche owners will want to have one as a runabout low profile hot hatch as it will provide almost similar ‘in your pants’ excitement.
Volkswagen Golf ‘R’ MK7 Specifications
Engine: 4-cylinder Turbocharged
Power: 300bhp @ 5500-6200rpm
Torque: 380Nm @ 1800-5500rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual/6-speed DSG
0-100km/h: 4.9 – 5.3secs
Top speed: 250km/h