The Volkswagen Golf R is the ultimate Golf, the performance icon that all boy-racers (which covers all ‘racers’ from the age of 18 to 80) dream about having, but only a few can actually afford one. Being a member of the motoring media, getting a car like the Golf R to review is like licking the icing on the cake, i.e., the best part of the job. Even writing about the R is a great pleasure, because we get to share the joy. If you haven’t had the chance to drive it, at least you can see how it performed.
Outwardly, there are not a lot of changes, the main stuff being a set of re-designed headlights, new alloy wheels and if you look closely, the twin exhausts have been re-positioned slightly.
The most important changes are under the hood, things you cannot see, but you certainly can feel – the engine has been re-tuned to now produce 292 horsepower, a slight upgrade from the Golf 7 R, which had a few horses less but the same 380Nm torque as the re-tuned version. The 7.5 R gets a 7-speed DSG, which helps it to be quicker off the mark – zero to 100 km/h is now done in a mere 4.6 seconds, approximately 0.5 seconds faster than its predecessor. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but half a second at this level is a big deal.
Inside, the instrumentation is now an Active Info Display – all the instruments are still analogue, in appearance only, but in reality they are images on a digital screen. Personally I prefer the fully analogue meters – they don’t look as good, but the old school me prefers the old look. The centre console also gets a much nicer 9.5 inch touchscreen, and the driving mode buttons are placed in a more logical way, with the economical and less powerful modes on the left, moving towards the faster modes to the right, and ending with the Individual mode, that allows one to personalize the options. The test car we got was the 3-door model, and did not have the push-button start/stop that is available on the 5-door, but is mechanically the same.
On the road, the Golf 7.5 R can be a sweet and dainty lady, or a hot and fiery monster – it depends on what you want it to be. Drive modes can be switched instantaneously and can transform the behavior of the R from a gentle fuel-sipping sweet young thing to a legalized race machine, and it even allows you to dial in your selection of engine tune, chassis tune, and the exhaust sound changes with the selection, being soft and unassuming in Eco and emitting that famous ‘brup brup’ exhaust sound in between gears when you are in any of the modes from Normal to Race.
In Eco mode, one can get extremely good fuel consumption, which is claimed at 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres (combined) – in this mode, the DSG goes into ‘coasting’ mode, which is in effect the transmission disengaging itself from the engine when the car is on ‘negative’ throttle. Coasting to save fuel is practiced by ‘hyper-milers’ (in the US), but coasting does have its dangers as control of the car can be compromised due to no drive going to the wheels. However, in the Golf R system, which is also seen in other VW models, the transmission is re-connected to the engine if the brake pedal or accelerator pedal is touched.
Naturally I had to take the Golf 7.5 R up to my favourite hill climb and check it out. With All-Wheel Drive and all those available horses, it was really fun. (Please watch the video at YS Khong Driving on Youtube, link as follows:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rx9MuPWmAIE&t=262s).
Never start anything you cannot stop – as far as the Golf 7.5 R is concerned, they have it sealed right and tight – the humongous ventilated brakes with multiple pot calipers at the front and the solid discs at the back are very reassuring, and if you need to stop in a hurry, these brakes will allow you to do so. Also the 19-inch wheels with 235/35 series tyres provide what some overseas motoring journalists describe as ‘velcro-action’ in terms of grip. Admittedly I never quite got out of the traction circle when I put the Golf 7.5 R through its paces – perhaps I wasn’t driving fast enough or perhaps there was just more grip than I needed.
All things said and done, the Golf 7.5 R is a really good car – it is a car that you will love from the moment you get it, and then later you may hate the fact that there are so few other cars that are as fun. If you are interested, the retail price is RM308,220.00 (price on-the-road without insurance, West Malaysia).