Driven: Volkswagen Golf R


Let's not beat about the bush here. From a PistonHeads perspective, there is one major problem with the new Volkswagen Golf R, and it's called the Scirocco R (which we drove a little while back).

Volkswagen's hot hatch/hot coupe cousins may share rather a high percentage of their genes with one another, but it's where they differ that matters. While the Scirocco gets less power (261bhp versus 266bhp) the Golf has to lug a not insignificant 102kg extra around.

This is partly due do the Golf's bigger body, but mostly down to the fact that the Golf R gets four-wheel drive, while the Scirocco can only put its power down via the front wheels.


But while the all-wheel drive hardware can propel the Golf R to 62mph 0.3secs faster than a Scirocco R (a DSG-equipped Golf R takes 5.5secs, while a twin-clutch Scirocco R will scrabble to the same point in 5.8secs), if anything that extra mass makes the Golf feel the more sluggish of the two in everyday driving.

The four-wheel-drive hardware and higher centre of gravity makes the Golf R a smidge less keen to turn-in or change direction than the Scirocco. Don't get us wrong - the Golf R is a seriously planted, surefooted beast, it's just that it's a little more comfort-oriented, more of a cruiser than a B-road hooligan.


Having said that, chuck the Golf R into a roundabout, lift off, then accelerate hard and you can really feel the power helping the rear wheels push the car around - a trick that is by definition impossible in the front-drive Scirocco.

The other major difference between the two cars is price - the Golf R is almost £1800 dearer than the Scirocco. Which we reckon is quite a lot of money to pay for 102kg, 5bhp and two extra driven wheels.

If the Scirocco R didn't exist, the Golf R would be a masterstroke of hot hatchery. But in the shadow of its lighter, cheaper, more agile sibling, the Golf R somehow seems like too little for too much.


If you value the all-wheel-drive traction, marginal extra practicality and more comfort-oriented nature then pick the Golf, but in most dynamic respects the Scirocco is a more satisfying machine.

 

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Comments (158) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Mike Rob 19 Apr 2010

    My wife is looking to up-grade her 3 year old R32 - this seems to be the only alternative. Would be nice to know how the Golf R stacks up against that rather than the Scirocco.

  • pilchardthecat 19 Apr 2010

    It's heavy, like a Golf

  • Republik 19 Apr 2010

    I saw one at VW in Bolton and stopped to have a look. £34,495....for a Golf.

  • Matt0812 19 Apr 2010

    So, if you want a quick and exciting VW, you buy a Scirocco R. If you want a quick Golf, you buy a GTI surely? Can't see as much appeal in this as old R32 now that glorious V6 is gone.

  • TheRoadWarrior 19 Apr 2010

    Matt0812 said:
    So, if you want a quick and exciting VW, you buy a Scirocco R. If you want a quick Golf, you buy a GTI surely? Can't see as much appeal in this as old R32 now that glorious V6 is gone.
    Corrected that for you.


    pistonheads said:
    While the Scirocco gets less power (261bhp versus 266bhp)
    Why would you go to the trouble of developing a different tune to give only slightly different power? Is it just to differentiate the models more, perhaps the scirocco is more attractive so they thought the golf needed more power to compete? 5bhp has got to almost be in the noise.. i'm betting they might even put out the same power and its just marketing creating the 5bhp.

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