2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet review, price, specs and 0-60 time

The Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet sees the mk6 Golf bow out as a 261bhp, front-drive drop-top

Evo rating
Price
from £38,770
  • Fast, classy convertible
  • A Boxster's cheaper...

Just after the hatchback Volkswagen Golf R bows out – an equivalent mk7 Golf can’t be far away – the convertible Golf gets the R treatment. Like the mechanically similar Scirocco R it has drive to the front wheels rather than all four, and an adequate 261bhp from its 2-litre turbocharged engine. Effectively it's a Golf GTI convertible on performance-enhancing drugs, and it's the first open-top Volkswagen with an R badge.

Engine and performance

To cope with the 261bhp and 258lb ft of torque that the boost peak of 1.2bar brings on, the EA113-series engine (not the later EA888 design) has stronger pistons and connecting rods reciprocating in a reinforced cylinder block. The gearbox is a six-speed DSG with no manual alternative, while the firmer suspension brings with it a 25mm drop in ride height. Giant 17in front brake discs sit within 19in wheels. Adaptive dampers with Comfort, Normal or Sport settings are optional in usual high-end VW fashion; here, the electric power steering's weighting is subtly altered with each of the three settings. The open Golf's impressively rigid structure (torsional stiffness is just under 10,000lb ft per degree) was the VW group's strongest open-top shell at launch, but the current Porsche Boxster out-stiffs it. We'll come back to the Boxster in a minute. 

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

What's it like to drive?

Fast, despite weighing a corpulent 1539kg. Standstill to 62mph takes 6.4sec, while top speed is the expected electronically-limited 155mph, no doubt a breezy business with the roof down (opening it is a 9.5sec operation as speeds up to 31mph). The best bit, though is what happens after a slight turbo-spooling pause: the Golf is catapulted forward, even if your starting revs are under 3000, with the usual deep, boomy growl overlaid by a breathy whoosh like a Renaultsport Megane's as slower traffic is eaten up and spat out behind. This combination of huge overtaking urge and a compact open-top, four-seater body is an unusual and beguiling one. The DSG gearbox's quick shifts keep the torque flowing, but in automatic mode they aren't always smooth and gentle driving uncovers some sleepy habits. It's more satisfying, and controllable, in manual paddleshift mode, though the 'box always upshifts automatically on the rev-limiter's threshold. All this power and torque is delivered tidily to the road, while corners are devoured with determined precision, but this Golf is more rapid ground-coverer than interactively-balanceable plaything. The steering weight and feel are credible for an electric system, with some messages about surface slipperiness filtering through. The three suspension modes work as expected, Normal being the best bet most of the time, but the rock-solid structural feel of the regular Golf cabrio hasn't survived the fitment of stiffer suspension and 235/35 tyres. You can feel the bodyshell shudder a touch over a ripply road. The brakes are magnificent. So is the operation and windproofness of the hood.

Rivals

It's more engaging than, say, an Audi TT RS, but there's one big problem. The price starts at £38,770, which would buy you a Porsche Boxster 2.7 with a grand left over. End of argument, really.

Anything else I need to know?

All that remains to say is that, expensive as it is, the Golf R Cabriolet is a unique car. No other manufacturer makes a comparable open-topped, four-seater, hatchback-related hotrod.

Price and availability

The Golf R Cabriolet costs £38,770 and is available to buy now.

Specifications

EngineIn-line 4-cyl, 1984cc, turbocharged
Max power261bhp @ 6000rpm
Max torque258lb ft @ 2500-5000rpm
0-606.4sec (claimed 0-62)
Top speed155mph (limited)
On saleNow

Most Popular

SSC Tuatara hypercar hits 331mph, making it the world’s fastest production car
News

SSC Tuatara hypercar hits 331mph, making it the world’s fastest production car

Over a decade after SSC last entered the record books, its Tuatara has claimed the title of world’s fastest production car
19 Oct 2020
Volkswagen Golf GTI 2020 review – eight generations new, the GTI still has the goods
Volkswagen Golf GTI hatchback

Volkswagen Golf GTI 2020 review – eight generations new, the GTI still has the goods

A very good hot hatch, but a great Golf GTI, the new mk8 excels where required to form a very desirable offering
19 Oct 2020
Range Rover D350 Autobiography 2020 review – new straight-six diesel a great fit
Land Rover Range Rover

Range Rover D350 Autobiography 2020 review – new straight-six diesel a great fit

The Range Rover’s new powertrain improves an admittedly aging package, but age doesn’t inhibit regality and it still has that in excess
17 Oct 2020
Cupra Leon eHybrid 2020 review – are hybrids and hot hatchbacks still mutually exclusive?
Cupra

Cupra Leon eHybrid 2020 review – are hybrids and hot hatchbacks still mutually exclusive?

Cupra’s hybrid hot hatch isn’t really sure what it wants to be – wait for the regular Cupra instead
16 Oct 2020