Let’s start this review with a disclaimer; I am a massive VW/Audi fan and worship the standard GTI. I’ll try not to bore you with the numbers too much, because chances are that if you’re reading an article about the Golf R, you already know them. If you’re anything like me, you appreciate the sense of enjoyment a car delivers rather than just the numbers it displays on a piece of paper; and not many cars will put and hold a smile on the drivers face for as long as the 2012 Volkswagen Golf R will.
The Golf R is fast, fun, sounds terrific, carries four in comfort and will make all your Thursday night ‘parking-lot get together’ buddies in Vaughan really jealous. In fact, one may be led to believe that the gorgeous girl that drives the pink Jetta and parks two spots to your left may even give you a wink every now and then. So about now you are probably thinking, “Perfect, I’m going to go down to my local VW dealership and put in my order.” But before you order your custom Euro-spec license plate to put on the dash or start taking that Balkan cooking class, there are probably a few things you need to consider. Firstly, all the Golf R models in Canada have already been sold. Secondly, if you want a quick, fun, and comfortable car, is the Golf R really your best option?
The direct injected and turbo charged 2.0 litre motor produces 256 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque. Combine that with VW’s silky smooth 6-speed manual transmission and the sure footed feel of all wheel drive, and what you get is driving ecstasy. But as you learned from your last trance concert, ecstasy is not cheap, and neither is driving ecstasy, but more about that later. 0-60 mph passes by at a few ticks under 6 seconds, and for those of you who like to take your commuter to the track, top speed is limited to 130 MPH. The numbers aren’t staggering, but after driving through winding country roads, highways, and bumper-to-bumper city traffic, I can confidently say the Golf R is greater than the sum of its parts.
But if all you want is speed, why not take a look at the Golf R’s direct competitors; the Mitsubishi Evo and Subaru STi. Both are competitively priced, have all wheel drive, and superior performance numbers. The VW fans will be quick to point out that the Golf R has legendary German refinement, which is definitely true. But the refinement won’t do much for your ego when that 17-year old kid driving an Evo, which was a gift from his parents for getting 95% in Calculus class, leaves you in his dust on the track. Or maybe you’re like me and prefer pure driving pleasure, in that case, have you taken a look at the drastically cheaper options such as the Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S or even the surprisingly awesome Civic Si HFP.
Finally, it’s time to deal with the elephant in the room. The price. There is no easy way to say this, so I suggest holding on tight to your latte so it doesn’t spill on your white V-neck. The VW online configurator shows a staggering $47,000 on the road. There is definitely some room for negotiation, but no matter what way you slice it, that is steep. All of a sudden all those soft touch materials don’t seem as soft, and that Dynaudio sound system doesn’t sound as crisp. The price looks even worse when you consider the new Ford Focus ST can be on yours today for $35,000, significantly cheaper than the Golf.
So what’s the verdict you ask? While the Volkswagen Golf R is the best hot hatch on sale in Canada today, the price removes it too far from the people that could appreciate it the most. Sadly though, it’s not just the Golf R, even the beloved GTI with all the options and a DSG gearbox is quoted at $44,000, which is $12000 more than the equivalent GTI in America. I would recommend buying a certified used GTI, and pocketing the change. Nevertheless, all the Golf R models have already been sold, so I guess I don’t know what I’m talking about. VW fans after all, are a very special breed.
2012 Volkswagen Golf R Gallery
*Disclaimer – Vehicle provided to us for testing purposes by Queensway Volkswagen