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Golfus Maximus

By K.C COLWELL, Nov 2015

Let’s ignore Volkswagen’s diesel-emissions cheating scandal for the next, oh, 650 words or so. Needless to say, VW is getting all kinds of negative press, so much so that it’s easy to forget that the company makes some great gasoline-powered cars.

One of those great cars is the Golf. It shouts practicality with its utilitarian looks. It also drives like it belongs in an economic class—or maybe two—above its $19K starting price.

Upgrading to a GTI only heightens the experience: You get all the same practicality with a touch of flair, plus an engine and chassis that are just as happy lugging along in traffic as they are diving toward an apex on a canyon road. Hence, the model range’s perennial appearance on our 10Best Cars list.

Then there’s the Golf R, the ultimate incarnation of the breed, with four-wheel drive and a massaged EA888 turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 292 horsepower. The current-generation R launched solely with a dual-clutch automatic, just like its fraternal twin, the Audi S3. Now, however, it’s also available with a manual, a choice that saves 80 pounds at the scale and $1100 off the bottom line.

Dual-clutch Is Quicker

While gaining a third pedal improves the man-machine interface, it doesn’t help at the track. Unfortunately, the manual loses to the automatic Golf R against the stopwatch. The 0.7-second deficit from zero to 60 mph, which takes 5.2 seconds, is almost fully attributable to the two shifts required to reach 60; the gap shrinks to 0.5 second at the quarter-mile, which is dispatched in 13.7 at 103 mph. The Golf R manual is still respectable—and much quicker than the GTI—but it trails its counterpart from Subaru, the (manual-only) STI.

Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) is bundled with navigation and 19-inch wheels for a $2245 premium, and our example had it, just like our previous, automatic test car. So equipped, the R rides more firmly than the rest of the Golf family, but it isn’t bone-rattling by any means. With braking from 70 mph at 157 feet and lateral acceleration of 0.95 g, chassis performance of this manual version is solid—and nearly identical to the automatic.

Practical Matters

One of the best parts of the car is how unassuming it is to drive, unless you decide to get aggressive with the steering and suspension settings. A typical commute is family-sedan comfortable. The clutch isn’t so heavy that being stuck in traffic makes you wish you’d spent the extra money on the automatic. And 21 mpg in our hands during a week that also included flogging during 10Best Cars testing is impressive. Basically, this is a well-rounded car. Engineers could have opened the exhaust to rival the Fiat 500 Abarth or the Alfa Romeo 4C, but they didn’t. Your dates will thank them for this—let’s face it, nobody’s wife would let them spend this much on a Golf—because they won’t be slouching in fast-and-furious exhaust-note shame.

Inside, there are but a few subtle differences to a Golf. The biggest is the center console, or rather, its lack of a functional elbow-rest cover from the factory. According to VW, NHTSA regs demand a latching closure on bins when there is a driveshaft underneath, or something like that. Fortunately, if you owned the car you can pop out the vents on the rear of the console and remove a single screw to get full access to the bin and the ratcheting and telescoping armrest.

The only genuine criticism of the R, excluding any subjective critiques of the styling, is the cost. The toughest thing the R has going for it is the existence of the GTI. Our test car cost nearly $39,000—basically double the price of a base Golf. Granted, this car is close to twice as good as a base Golf, but is it 50 percent better than a $26,000 GTI? Buyers make that call, but there’s no denying the greatness here.

2016 Volkswagen Golf R Manual Test ? Review ? Car and Driver
 

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Wow. Seven tenths faster with the DCT. Would you order your RS with a similar transmission in order to have a sub 4 second 0-60?
 

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APR has a DSG R that runs in the mid 12's and sub 4 second 0-60 with just a downpipe and tune. I believe they claim 400/400 crank on 93 octane.
 

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Thanks for that post. I love the golf look, but not so much the price.

One of the pros listed in the article was "EPA compliant" ...LOL
 

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I loves me a manual too - but I am disappointed that Ford did not invest the minimal development $ needed to bring a rev-matching system to this car. Even the Camaro has that now.
 

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Wow. Seven tenths faster with the DCT. Would you order your RS with a similar transmission in order to have a sub 4 second 0-60?
Absolutely!
 

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APR has a DSG R that runs in the mid 12's and sub 4 second 0-60 with just a downpipe and tune. I believe they claim 400/400 crank on 93 octane.
R's and S3's have run mid 11's with downpipe and tune afaik

I loves me a manual too - but I am disappointed that Ford did not invest the minimal development $ needed to bring a rev-matching system to this car. Even the Camaro has that now.
Does the Mustang have rev matching? The camaro got it because they had already developed it for the corvette. [Not saying Ford should have left it out.] I do like it when I'm casually driving, but I'd rather do it myself when I'm driving on the track - if I wanted the car to do it for me I'd just buy an auto/dct.
 

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No manual transmission rev matching on any Ford product.

Do-it-yourself heel and toe is fine for the track but doesn't work well on the street as it can only really be done when you are jamming down hard on the brakes, which gives you the brake pedal placement needed to carry it out. Not only is such hard braking wearing on your car but it increases the likelihood of accidents in any sort of traffic.
 

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The new mustangs automatic transmission has rev matching. I've never tracked a car so I've never attempted a heel-toe. During normal driving I'll just blip the throttle a little before coming off the clutch normally. Even that isn't necessary all the time.
 

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Had an order in for a 2016 Golf R manual but pulled it when I found out I can get an allocated RS. I drove the Golf R and it is an incredible car. The interior feels so solid, the doors make the right sound when you close them, everything looks and feels right. I was never really worried about the horsepower gap when Ford released the HP numbers I would have done an ECU flash or some bolt-on upgrades if that was the case. I just really appreciated ford finally bringing the RS to america and not toning the car down but in fact tuning it up for the U.S. Finally an american car that fit all of my check-boxes quick, hatch, manual, and 4 doors. Couldn't pass it up even though I really did love the Golf.
 

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The only area I see the R possibly being superior is in ride comfort, as the RS is very tightly sprung and seems to have very firm shocks (there was that comment by a Ford engineer that the RS was faster around the Nords on the softer damper setting). Time will tell.

(Addendum: Well tbh the interior is classier in the VW, and the outward visibility is a bit better.)
 

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Had an order in for a 2016 Golf R manual but pulled it when I found out I can get an allocated RS. I drove the Golf R and it is an incredible car. The interior feels so solid, the doors make the right sound when you close them, everything looks and feels right. I was never really worried about the horsepower gap when Ford released the HP numbers I would have done an ECU flash or some bolt-on upgrades if that was the case. I just really appreciated ford finally bringing the RS to america and not toning the car down but in fact tuning it up for the U.S. Finally an american car that fit all of my check-boxes quick, hatch, manual, and 4 doors. Couldn't pass it up even though I really did love the Golf.
I also had a 2016 R on order and pulled it because I got my RS order in and because of dieselgate. I was able to test drive the R twice and the second time I really pushed it. I had a great price locked in at $200 over invoice. One main reason to change was Ford seems to be a more honest and stable company and I really,really like my ST,ST3 so I know I will love, love my RS ;)

YMMV,

MidCow3



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No manual transmission rev matching on any Ford product.

Do-it-yourself heel and toe is fine for the track but doesn't work well on the street as it can only really be done when you are jamming down hard on the brakes, which gives you the brake pedal placement needed to carry it out. Not only is such hard braking wearing on your car but it increases the likelihood of accidents in any sort of traffic.
I disagree and I Heel & Toe everytime I stop my car. It is out of habit. I'm not sure what vehicle you have, I will say I had to put a pedal spacer in my ST. I could still do it the way it was from the factory, but a lot more contorting with the foot.
 

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Golf R advantages over Focus RS

The only area I see the R possibly being superior is in ride comfort, as the RS is very tightly sprung and seems to have very firm shocks (there was that comment by a Ford engineer that the RS was faster around the Nords on the softer damper setting). Time will tell.

(Addendum: Well tbh the interior is classier in the VW, and the outward visibility is a bit better.)
It is a moot point now because I cancelled my cancelled my Golf R when my RS order became firm, but actually the Golf R has several good advantages IMHO you may disagree and that is okay:

1. Larger interior room, esepecially back seat leg room.
2. More comforatable ride with DCC set on comfort.
3. Larger gas tank 14.5 gallons
4. better mileage about 2 mpg across the board.
5. Better safety electronics with DAP (Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC); Park Distance Control (front and rear); Front assist with autonomous emergency braking; Blind spot alert with rear traffic alert; Lane assist (lane departure warning system)
6. Much better colors - i.e. Tornado Red
7. Interior fit and finish is a little better.
8. There is an easy fix to add a spare tire using S3 spare.
9. Better Price - total cost was going to be $38,843

The RS looks better, much better horsepower, much better AWD, Ford is a better company, I like the ST and the RS is an ST on steroids. My personal preference is to have a moon roof.

YMMV,

MidCow3



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It is a moot point now because I cancelled my cancelled my Golf R when my RS order became firm, but actually the Golf R has several good advantages IMHO you may disagree and that is okay:

1. Larger interior room, esepecially back seat leg room.
2. More comforatable ride with DCC set on comfort.
3. Larger gas tank 14.5 gallons
4. better mileage about 2 mpg across the board.
5. Better safety electronics with DAP (Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC); Park Distance Control (front and rear); Front assist with autonomous emergency braking; Blind spot alert with rear traffic alert; Lane assist (lane departure warning system)
6. Much better colors - i.e. Tornado Red
7. Interior fit and finish is a little better.
8. There is an easy fix to add a spare tire using S3 spare.
9. Better Price - total cost was going to be $38,843

The RS looks better, much better horsepower, much better AWD, Ford is a better company, I like the ST and the RS is an ST on steroids. My personal preference is to have a moon roof.

YMMV,

MidCow3
I love that list and how not one thing pertains to the actual driving performance of the vehicle lol. I can not wait to see these two vehicles go head to head :D
 

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I just bought a 2016 Golf R DCC/NAV with DSG couldn't be more happy. I couldn't wait for the RS and although it's gonna be a great car the Golf r is really nice.

With a simple tune the R will beat an RS in power and torque and most drivers wouldn't be able to out **** a DSG transmission. So that it would smash it I'm not so sure. I guess we will see when they arrive.
 
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