Apparently, not. In 1992, Volkswagen upped the ante with the Golf VR6 (MK III); it came with a 2.8-litre V6 engine, thus “inventing” the luxo-hatch niche. The follow-ups to the VR6 – the Mk4 and MK5 R32 boasted four-wheel drive drivetrains and 3.2 litre V6s.
Thanks to the incrementing pressure from the Greenies, Volkswagen had to redefine their GTI-topping R models by swapping the big capacity naturally aspirated V-6 engines with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that churns out 256bhp and 330Nm of torque from 2,400 to 5,200 rpm. Oddly, rather than tweaking the 1984cc EA888 unit from the current GTI, the Golf R is fitted with the EA113 unit from the previous GTI , which incidentally is the same engine used in the Audi S3.
True to Volkswagen’s claims, the Golf R is brutally quick, as our test car’s six-speed DSG automated manual gearbox zipped through the gears seamlessly into obscene speeds; wouldn’t take too much effort to lose your driving license. FYI, it is capable of downing a Porsche Boxster at a traffic light Grand Prix. Despite the slight hint of turbo lag, the Golf R’s switch to a turbocharged four-cylinder is agreeable. In fact, we find the “furious” sounding “sound-optimised exhaust system” very delicious.
As with the GTI, three-stage adaptive dampers (DCC) with the choice of Comfort, Normal and Sport settings are standard on all Singapore-bound cars. DCC allows the driver to vary the suspension firmness and steering weight. Staying true to the luxo-hatch theme, even in Sport mode, we have noted that the suspension wasn’t as firm as the GTI, though the steering on the R is weightier.
From the Golf R‘s Rising Blue paint job and de-chromed bodyworks, it looks hugely desirable. The subtle differentials include; better defined, more aggressive front and rear bumpers; gloss black mirrors and grille; larger rear spoiler; centralised twin exhausts; LED running lights up front and rear; and a 20mm reduction in ride height compared to the GTI. In short, most will not mistake your Golf R as a GTI, or will they? Our advice is to part with more cash for the optional 19” high-gloss black alloys (SGD$9,000) and a pair of front bucket seats (SGD$3,600) to impart the “R(acing)” visual message with more conviction.
There are many ways how the new Golf R could have gone wrong; a mere Audi S3 clone or worse, a portly GTI that is marginally faster. But thankfully, the hottest Golf has turned out to be a plush, fast and comfortable in a lighter and more efficient package that is more in sync with the times. The Golf R also marks the most “dramatic” change in the entire Golf family from the MK V to the MK VI. With no direct rivals outside the Volkswagen group, the Golf R seems to the only luxo-hatch you should consider, if you are in the market for one.
|Engine||1,984cc 4-cylinder, in-line Turbocharged|
|Transmission||6-speed DSG (Automated Manual)|
|Wheels Driven||4MOTION all-wheel drive|
|Max. Power||256bhp @ 6,000rpm|
|Max. Torque||330Nm @ 2,400 to 5,200rpm|
|0-100 km/h||5.7 sec|
|Top speed||250 km/h (limited)|
|Fuel Economy||8.4 litres per 100km|
|CO2 Emissions||195 g/km|
|Dimensions (L x W x H)||4,212mm X 1,779mm X 1,461mm|
|Price with COE*||SGD$181,300|