Variant: R Final Edition
Engine / Transmission: 2.0 litre – 7 Speed DSG automatic
Manufacturer Claimed Fuel Economy: 7.2L/100km combined
Price: From $57,990 plus on roads
Volkswagen’s Golf is my go-to recommendation for friends and family. I find the Golf to be a near-flawless hatch: efficient, classless, and beautifully built. The Golf R Final Edition currently in the EFTM Garage is the most expensive Golf, yet worth every single cent.
Of course, everything that is wonderful about the Golf platform remains, but these elements are ramped up to eleven in the R. The R Final Edition is the swansong to the Golf 7 platform, introduced in Europe back in 2012 (the Golf 8 has already been released overseas, but like a Peoples’ 911, it is a stylistic evolution rather than a revolution and I would happily hand over my hard earned for a superseded Golf 7).
The Golf range kicks off at $25990, but the R comes in at almost double that. Luckily, it is more than double the car. The 2.0 litre turbo kicks a killer punch, dispatching the 0-100kph sprint in under 5 seconds, but more than that, it is muscular all throughout the rev range giving a very competent and grown up feeling to what is essentially a small to mid size hatch.
Benign the pinnacle of the Golf range, the R comes with all of the tech you would expect, including a really useable infotainment display with voice and gesture control and Apple CarPlay, Dynaudio branded premium sound and the brilliant, customisable 12.3” high resolution digital screen, in the place of traditional dials and gauges.
Drivetrain tech includes the Haldex AWD system which certainly gives an added degree of confidence in dicey conditions, but when combined with the gorgeous 19” rims fitted to the Final Edition, the turning circle of the R suffers compared to FWD Golfs.
The engine in the R is a weapon, but I don’t think that this is it’s greatest asset. Like all Golfs, it is the R’s all round competence that is just so damn impressive. Keep the drive mode away from ‘Race’ and you will find the R to be a supremely capable and comfortable choice.
The Final Edition, especially in one of the three custom colours, looks fantastic; subtle and tough with none of the garish wings of an A45 or Civic Type R.
Not So Impressive :
Unfortunately, the Golf R exhibits noticeable and frustrating turbo lag… well, turbo like lag.
I say “turbo lag” because the sensation feels exactly like turbo lag. A quick check of sporty Volkswagen internet forums seems to place the blame for this feeling squarely at the fly by wire throttle.
Perhaps a nod to emission control, or an attempt to smooth out a clumsy right foot? Whatever the cause, it is a blight on an otherwise wonderful driveline. A flash tuner solves the issue, but this lag can be easily avoided with a little driving skill. Keep the little four pot on the boil and any hint of lag disappears and the R shoots down the road like the best of them.
Overall, expensive for a smallish hatch, but so, so sweet. The Golf R Final Edition is very definitely Flipsy Approved and worth every cent.
WHEN ON A TEST DRIVE:
Take your time with it. This car won’t truly shine on a quick lap around the block. Try to take the R out on a nice country drive for half a day – you’ll be thankful that you did and will quickly find yourself $57,990 poorer.