2016Volkswagen Golf R: Everything you’ve heard—believe it

10 Aug 2016 | 1,149 views | No Comment
By Don Hammonds So-called pocket rockets are all the rage these days. Ford Focus RS, Honda Civic Si, Subaru WRX STi, Volkswagen GTI and others mainly designed for overseas markets all have their own loyalists, enthusiasts and advocates. But we at Automobile Journal had a chance to get behind the wheel of a car that you almost certainly don't want to put in  your pocket, and as for rocket, well...we strongly suggest you hold on tight. And all those others better run for cover because this one can eat the others for breakfast. It's got it all.  I cannot think of a blessed thing this car doesn't have.  And I just love that it's so darn practical!  All that space under the hatch, room for several friends and goosebumps and raised hair on you head and arms when you drive it?  I'll take it  Don't threaten me with a good time. I'm ready! It's Volkswagen's 2016 Golf R w/DCC & Navigation four door sedan. 2016_golf_r_4562 That's a long name, but all you need to know is that it is bloody fast. It also has absolutely peerless, superb handling that bows to nobody. And it has an interior that is to die for. 2015_golf_r_4552   Volkswagen says that  Automobile Magazine loved it so much that they chose it for its“All-Star”  list from the entirety of all-new, heavily revised, or newly significant variants on sale or otherwise available in the U.S. in the 12 months preceding the publication’s fall test. Editorial staff and contributors cast private ballots for their favorite vehicles, including passenger cars, sports cars, sport-utilities, minivans and trucks. Winners are determined solely by staff preferences. Do I look surprised?  I'm not. I know some of the good folks at Automobile, one of my favorite buff mags and trust me--they know what they are talking about! VW says in a news release, that the Golf R is" the most powerful version of the Golf ever to be sold in the U.S. market. It redefines the hatchback category with enough space for five adults and more trunk space than most mid-size sedans. It features an even more advanced version of Volkswagen’s EA888 four-cylinder turbocharged and direct-injection TSI® 2.0-liter engine that’s fitted to the Golf GTI, which was named an Automobile “2015 All-Star.” Boasting 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, the R model is also fuel-efficient, with an EPA-estimated highway fuel economy rating of 31 mpg with the six-speed manual transmission. " Our Lapiz Blue Metallic example with a black leather interior is an all-wheel drive car with a base price of $38,995. Standard equipment includes the 2.0 liter, 292 horsepower turbocharged four with a Dynamic Chassis Control adaptive Suspension; vented disc bikes front and rear; 19 inch alloy wheels, a selective drive mode system; performance summer tires, automatic, adaptive bi-xenon headlights that turn as you turn; LED daytime running lights and LED front turn signals, rear spoiler, Golf R bumpers, side sills and exterior trim; chrome-tipped quad sport exhaust system; rain sensing front wipers with heated washer nozzles; dual zone automatic climate control; tilting and telescoping, multi-function sport steering wheel; steering wheel mounted shift paddles; leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; heated, power drivers sports seat with lumbar support; heated power reclining front passenger sport seat,  split folding rear seat with armrest and pass-through; leather seats; alloy pedals and door sill scuff plates; and front center console with armrest and upholders. Some notable technological features include rearview camera; Discover Media, 6.5 iinch touchscreen navigation; AM/FM/HD radioowith CD player, USB & ux-in; Fender premium audio system; Bluetooth mobile phone connectivitiy; satellite radio; cruise contro; and ther features. Of particular interest is Volkswagen's Car-Net system that includes App-Connect (Smartphone integration and Interface); Guide & Inform (Navigation and entertainment); security and service (Emergency assistance, Remote Access and Vehicle Health. In fact, the Golf R features a suite of new connectivity features that includes USB and VW Car-Net® App-Connect technology, as well as a number of newly available driver assistance systems. The Golf R comes standard with Volkswagen’s Automatic Post-Collision Braking System and the DCC and Navigation model is available with the Driver Assistance Package, which adds Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist), Lane Departure Warning (Lane Assist), Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Traffic Alert, and Park Distance Control (Park Pilot). The 2016 Golf R (along with the Golf, Golf GTI and Golf SportWagen models), earned a 5-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Safety equipment includes Front and Side airbags with supplemental restraint systems for both driver and passenger side curtain protections, head impact airbags, three point safety belts for all seating positions, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, intelligent crash response system, and tire pressure monitoring system. The lusty 2.0 liter turbocharged engine gets 25 miles per gallon overall, with 23 city and 30 highway ratings.  The R uses four gallons of gasoline per 100 miles driven, and you will spend $1,000 more a year for gasoline over five years than you would compared to the average new vehicle--but we hasten to add strongly that every penny you spend on this car is well worth it! Before we go on, we must tell you once more that although this car is a breathtaking piece of machinery to drive, it is absolutely docile and quiet when you are doing your normal everyday driving back and forth on errands. There is nothing to suggest what lurks beneath the hood until you punch that accelerator pedal and then all bets are off! You're in for an unforgettable driving experience. Pittsburgh, our home base, is known for its terrible potholes and road buckles.  But you would never know it in the R. Barely a ripple.  And this car psychologically makes you feel like you are in charge.  You never, ever worry about stability in such a powerful small car.  I don't like worrying about tipping, lurching  or turning over or signs of ill behavior.  I like knowing I can get out of trouble in a pinch quickly.  And the R delivers on all of that. I know some much larger ones than this one that only wish I could say that. What's fascinating about the Volkswagen Golf R is that it is so "down low," so to speak. It looks very sedate and normal, even suave and elegant on the outside, with no clue of its heritage and demeanor except for the stylized R emblem you see on its flanks. In fact, VW's equally desirable and fun to drive GTI is far more obvious about what it's all about when you see it, in our view. Let's say you get into your R during nighttime.  When the door opens, you see soft, understated shades of blue ambiance lighting on the door and elsewhere. The needles on the gauges are a lovely shade of blue, too when you turn on the car. Gauges and controls are arranged around you for a true cockpit experience. The shifts in this car with the six speed DSG automatic  transmission come lightning quick, and you are pushed firmly back in your seat when you hit the gas.  Handling is unquestionably some of the best we have experienced in any car; potholes and ridges in the road are virtually nonexistent, even with the firmness of the suspension; you simply feel nothing untoward at all.  It is the best behaved car on the open road that I've driven in some time. A fun point: The headlights turn in sync with your steering wheel movements. Seating room is adequate in front, and not bad at all in the back. You will notice that carbon fiber can be found on the dashboard and elsewhere in a nice high performance touch. The biggest problem or issue, I suspect will be the price tag.  I know that's true for me because I would love to have an R. The terrific VW Golf GTI sells for much less, can hit 60 in about 5.9 seconds, and is practical as all get out.  The R on the other hand is far rarer and costs thousands more, but 60 arrives in about 4.5 seconds.  The fact that the R comes with 75 more horses,  all wheel drive and some other features would make the difference for me, but at almost $37,000 base?   Wow. Well...I'd love to have one, but I think I'd  go with the GTI, especially because I prefer its wilder, "Don't Mess with Me" look, compared with the stealthy look of the R. But hey, that's why they make vanilla and chocolate ice cream--and I'm ecstatic that Volkswagen has BOTH of them.      

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