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First drive: New VW Golf R lands from under $50,000

R-rated: Golf R completes the rollout of Volkswagen's sixth-generation hatchback.

Volkswagen launches new Mk6 Golf R with a sub-$10K premium over the Golf GTI

Volkswagen logo11 Jun 2010

VOLKSWAGEN has released its all-new Golf R hot hatch in Australia with prices starting from under $50,000 – some $7000 less than the Golf R32 it replaces.

Priced from $48,490 as a three-door six-speed manual and $49,990 in five-door manual form – with a six-speed DSG twin-clutch automatic transmission adding $2500 to both prices – the new Golf flagship is now less than $10,000 more expensive than the popular Golf GTI.

While the new Golf flag-bearer comes with a host of additional standard equipment over the GTI, including all-wheel drive and a cracking new turbocharged 2.0-litre TSI petrol engine to replace the R32’s 3.2-litre V6, a range of top-end options were also announced at today’s national press launch in Tasmania.

They include an electric glass sunroof ($1900), four silver or black ‘Talladega’ 19-inch alloy wheels with 235/35 tyres ($1300), a ‘Dynaudio Excite’ 300-Watt sound system ($1300), RNS510 satellite-navigation ($2500), RNS510 with Dynaudio Excite ($3500) a rear-view camera ($500 - only in conjunction with sat-nav or Dynaudio), Media Device Interface ($270), ‘Vienna’ leather trim ($3300), motorsport-style ‘San Remo’ front seats with micro-fibre/leather trim ($5300), a powered driver’s seat ($600 – only in leather-clad five-door models) and Adaptive Chassis Control ($1500).

Volkswagen’s newest R model – which no longer carries an engine capacity abbreviation in its name – is based on the new Mk6 Golf, which shares the same basic foundations as the Mk5 Golf it superseded in Australia in February 2009. The Mk6 GTI was released here in three and five-door guise last October, with Australia’s first Golf wagon joining the range here in February this year.

Like the R32 it replaces, the Volkswagen Individual-designed Golf R offers even more performance than the circa-$40,000 front-wheel drive GTI, and VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system to harness it.

However, its 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine is also more powerful, more efficient and lighter than the R32’s 184kW/320Nm 3.2-litre V6, as a result of Volkswagen’s “intelligent downsizing” approach to the R-badged Golf.

As we’ve reported, vital Golf R statistics include a power output of 188kW at 6000rpm (up from 155kW at 5300rpm for the GTi and 184kW for the R32) and peak torque of 330Nm between 2400 and 5200rpm – up from 280Nm at 1700rpm for the GTI and 320Nm for the R32.

Apart from making it the most powerful Golf ever produced, it is enough to make the Golf R, which has a tare weight of 1476kg in manual guise (some 116kg more than the GTI but 34kg less than the R32), sprints to 100km/h in 5.9 seconds as a manual and just 5.7 seconds with the DSG auto.

That makes it at least a second quicker than the new GTI (which with a claimed 6.9-second 0-100km/h sprint is almost as quick as the R32), yet the Golf R returns average fuel consumption of 8.7 litres per 100km with either transmission – about 1.0L/100km more than the GTI (7.7L/100km manual 7.6L/100km DSG) and more than 1.0L/100km less than the R32 (10.8L/100km manual 9.8L/100km DSG).

Similarly, claimed average CO2 emissions fall from 259 grams per kilometre for the R32 to 201g/km (manual) and as low as 197g/km for the DSG version – about 20g/km more than the GTI (180g/km manual 178g/km DSG).

3 center imageCompared with the TSI direct-injection turbo-four in the GTI, the Golf R engine runs higher (1.2 bar) boost pressure, a higher 9.8:1 compression ratio, stronger connecting rods, cylinder reinforcing bolts and a reinforced cylinder block. Like the GTI (and the entry-level Golf’s 1.4-litre Twincharger engine), the Golf R requires premium 95 RON unleaded.

According to Volkswagen, the R’s 4Motion AWD system has also been upgraded over the R32’s version, and now offers improved power transmission between the front and rear wheels because its centre coupling no longer requires a speed differential between the axles to direct torque to the rear wheels.

VW says that’s because an electric pump is used to build pressure for the first time, supplying oil to a hydraulic reservoir with a working pressure of 30 bar. An electronically operated valve controls how much oil pressure is applied to the working pistons of the multi-plate clutch, with contact pressure at the clutch plates rising in proportion to the desired torque at the rear axle.

Because the amount of torque that is transferred can be varied continuously by the amount of pressure applied to the clutch plates, VW says the upgraded 4Motion system operates independent of slip, since the system’s working pressure is always available.

Apart from preventing wheelspin at the front more effectively, VW says the new AWD system’s ability to regulate torque distribution based on dynamic axle loads allows nearly 100 per cent of engine torque to be directed to the rear wheels.

The Golf R rides on a modified version of the Mk6 Golf chassis. The ride height is lowered by 25mm and VW says the springs, dampers and anti-roll bars have been “completely retuned” for the R, which continues to employ MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension architectures.

A new option is Adaptive Chassis Control, which offers three switchable choices of damper settings: normal, comfort and sport, while the Golf’s electromechanical power steering system also comes with a sportier tune.

Brakes have been upgraded for the Golf R too, and now comprise four vented brake discs – measuring 345mm in diameter up front and 310mm at the rear – plus R-specific brake callipers with a high-gloss R logo at all four corners.

Rounding out the mechanical package are Talladega 18-inch alloy wheels with 225/40 tyres.

The Golf R is differentiated from the GTI by standard bi-Xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and LED tail-lights with darkened lenses, plus a rear roof spoiler, an aggressive new front bumper and dual central chromed exhaust outlets that emerge from under the rear bumper’s central diffuser – a trademark feature of the outgoing R32.

Interestingly, when 19-inch alloys are specified, the Golf R’s headlight housings are painted completely black, while the hottest Golf’s windows are tinted from the B-pillars back.

Inside, the Golf R offers ‘Top sports seats’ with extra lateral side bolstering and ‘Kyalami’ sports cloth trim, a flat-bottomed three-spoke leather steering wheel with piano black inserts and DSG shift paddles, front and rear carpet mats and an RCD510 AM/FM sound system with six-CD changer, 6.5-inch colour touch-screen and MP3 compatible SD card slot.

A full complement of safety features includes twin front, front side, curtain and driver’s knee airbags, ESP electronic stability control, ASR traction control and ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.

Other standard equipment includes dual-zone climate-control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, black gloss exterior mirror, metallic/pearl effect paint, a low tyre pressure indicator, aluminium-finish pedals, ‘Silver Lane’ dashboard and door inserts, brushed chrome trim for the instrument cluster, vent surrounds and gearshift surround, chrome headlight switch and front reading light surround trims and R-badged front door sill scuff plates.

2010 Golf R pricing:
Golf R three-door $48,490
Golf R there-door (DSG) $50,990
Golf R five-door $49,990
Golf R five-door (DSG) $52,490

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