Performance and 0-60 time
Make no mistake, the Golf R is a much quicker car than its GTI sibling. With 297bhp and 280lb ft, it simply has more fire in the boiler room, greater aerobic reach at the top end and the all-drive wherewithal to deploy it effectively. The acceleration stats speak for themselves, the sprint from rest to 62mph taking a claimed 4.9sec (or 5.1sec if you opt for a manual six-speed ‘box rather than the DSG double clutch transmission - or if you opt for the DSG estate).
It sounds a lot angrier when you engage Sport mode, too, though much of the added gruff is a bluff generated by a ‘soundaktor’ (sound generator) intended to fill in sonically what the mk 7 Golf R is missing in cylinders measured against its V6-engined forbears though, in truth, it sounds more like a Subaru flat-four. With time you tend not to be so conscious of the less-than-authentic off-beat note, but it could put some people off.
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Although the DSG equipped Golf R is fractionally more accelerative thanks to its transmission’s blink-quick shifts, it’s heavier than the manual car which commendably, at 1476kg, weighs 45kg less than the previous Golf R. And, using the latest generation of Haldex all-wheel drive, every last bhp and lb ft of the latest car’s larger outputs are put to the tarmac with ease.
That said, the Golf R is certainly an impressive car fitted with the paddle shift double-clutch ‘box, the near seamless shifts and undeniable polish of DSG massaging the impression of instant on-demand thrust to a degree not fully reflected by the 0.2sec-quicker claimed 0-62 time.
Left to its own devices the transmission is rarely caught out. On light throttle openings it does shuffle up as many gears as possible in D to increase efficiency, but it requires little coaxing to kickdown right into the heart of its stout torque reserves. Nudge the gear selector across to manual and it’s good fun flicking between the gears with the paddles, though pull the lever into S (Sport) mode while in Drive and the transmission can be too keen to stay in second and third gears at the sort of urban speeds fourth or even fifth could smoothly handle.