Most of us are quite familiar with the Golf GTI, Volkswagen’s popular hot hatch that has been on the market for quite some time. While a little less popular among the younger crowd of enthusiasts due to its more premium price tag, the Golf R takes things a step further with some amazing results.
We are in the Mark 7 age of Volkswagen’s Golf Lineup, and while Volkswagen is still recovering from its issues due to the whole US emission scandal, the GTI and R are still seeing acceptable sales due to the car’s design and popularity.
The Mk7 Golf R is a hatchback like the GTI, but unlike its counterpart it offers a more powerful motor, an all-wheel drive drivetrain, and an awesome suspension setup called Dynamic Chassis Control, or DCC for short, which allows the user to change the suspension based on their driving by using 3 different modes for comfort, normal, and race setups, with the now added option of a custom suspension setup.
The Golf R is powered by a newly developed version of the four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged EA888 TSI petrol engine used in the latest Golf GTI and Audi S3, but has a modified cylinder head, exhaust valves, valve seats and springs, pistons, injection valves and larger intercooler and turbocharger than the previous models that allows the R to produce 292 horsepower from factory.
Now, compared to the GTI’s more affordable price tag that starts at $24,995, the most base model of the R is priced at $35,655, with the option of getting the higher model which comes with Navigation and the DCC that comes out around $39,000. While a bit of a price bump, we find that the best option is to go with a fully-loaded model as I can tell you personally that having the DCC in the vehicle makes a world of difference when you are ripping the car around tight corners and back roads.
Even with Mitsubishi pulling out its popular Lancer Evolution, the Golf R does still have some competition with newer model years. The ones current for 2017 are Ford’s Focus RS, which is also an all-wheel drive hatchback with a turbo that makes 350 horsepower from factory, the Subaru STI, which makes 305 from factory and still gives you all-wheel drive and 5-Star safety ratings, and if the rumors hold true, Honda’s new Civic Type R which is said to make around 295 horsepower from factory with all-wheel drive.
All of these cars fall into a familiar price range, with the Ford and Subaru starting around 36k, and the Honda rumored to be around the 35k mark. A question that many fans of American and Japanese cars may ask would be:
“okay so why should I buy an R?”
Well as mentioned before, Volkswagen is still reeling from the whole emissions issue, so their sales have definitely taken a hit. That being said, you, the buyer, will likely have some nice negotiating power because Volkswagen really wants to move some cars, especially if you hit the dealership around the end of a month.
The new Golf R does have several options when it comes to modification, assuming you’re okay with voiding your factory warranties. If not, some Volkswagen dealers actually offer a software upgrade depending on the actual dealer, some use the ever-popular APR software, while others offer Unitronic or even both options, which will NOT void your warranty when installed by them. Aftermarket options that involve actually changing parts will of course be your standard warranty-voiding affair, but if you’re like some of us here at NETC then you don’t care about warranties and that’s why you’re here.
So let’s talk tuning: another thing people often overlook with European cars is the fact that most of the time they are seriously de-tuned for the factory. Probably the most well-known and popular tuning out there for Euro vehicles is a company called APR, which offers both aftermarket performance parts and tuning for Audi, Volkswagen, and Porsche in the American market. APR offers some serious power gains over the factory tunes, just take a look at this excerpt and dyno sheet from their website on the Golf R stage 1 software:
“The APR Stage I ECU Upgrade is the first step towards making more power! This simple upgrade requires no engine hardware modifications, and produces 357-381 HP with 349-392 FT-LBS of torque. Gains as high as 66-93 HP and 68-109 FT-LBS of torque are available throughout the power band, making the vehicle exceptionally quicker in all scenarios.
The upgrade is offered in both high and low torque versions, and is available for various fuel grades. The high torque upgrade may require an upgraded clutch, or APR’s TCU Upgrade to avoid clutch slip, so low torque software is available, offering an impressive 349-366 FT-LBS of torque.”
And that’s just stage 1! Grab yourself APR’s intake system, Intercooler, and Downpipe, and then you can bump yourself up to the Stage 2 tune which looks a little something like this:
Those gains you have to admit are pretty crazy! I myself am more of a Japanese tuner fan, but some of the cars I see with those basic bolt-ons and a professional tune will usually net somewhere around the 50-70 horsepower mark, but APR takes it up to 93 horsepower and 113 foot-pounds of torque over stock numbers.
Yes, yes, we all know We’re looking at crank numbers here, so here’s a picture of APR’s Stage 2 dyno sheet again, this time with wheel numbers instead:
So here you go. Over stock wheel horsepower, APR tuning with an upgraded intake, downpipe, and intercooler nets about 96 horsepower and 115 foot-pounds, TO THE WHEELS! Of course individual engines behave differently, but just looking at those numbers direct from APR is something fierce. Imagine what you could do with an upgraded turbo and fueling!
One thing that is very important to note about the Golf R if you’re going to be modifying it, is that even with the Stage 1 upgrade it is highly recommended to upgrade the clutch system alongside it, which will run you around the 1500 dollar mark, give or take a few benjamins.
All this being said, the Golf R makes for a pretty impressive hot hatch if you want a car that can carry the groceries and scratch that “go fast” itch.
If you’re looking for some performance on a lower budget, go check out our article:
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