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Volkswagen Golf R: Test Drive

Just after being six minutes on the wheels of the new Volkswagen Golf R from Volkswagen, the fact that the car is indeed special can be confirmed by us. Expectations from this vehicle had been very high – we had spent nearly three years waiting for its launch. The car, at first glance, looked to be a higher powered all-wheel-drive variant of the 10-Best-winning model GTI. It can also be deemed to be an Audi TTS, with more practical aspects.

Both of the R32’s previous generations were powered with VW’s narrow angled six cylinders, in which power has been provided to all the four wheels. The latest version has a directly injected 4-inline and turbocharged engine like the TTS. It makes 256 horsepower (exceeding the previous R32 by six and missing the TTS power by nine) and generates torque 243 lb ft, which goes into the four shoes.

2011 Volkswagen Golf R

The Power Aspect:

VW has listened and reacted well to criticism made of their DSG-only model of R32 launched in 2008. Returning, after almost a generational absence to the R-line is manual transmission, automatic option has been left out. Driving experience is the core focus behind the vehicle’s design. In lines with that mission, it has been provided with shift-solid manual gearbox along with belches (off-throttle) for guttural exhaust. The five-door option is also something that is new, at least for U.S. Market. This points out the fact that R buyers wanted to combine practicality with vehicular performance.

2011 Volkswagen Golf R

Some Subtle changes enhance the driving comfort and safety:

The R sports the body similar to 200-hp GTI. However, there are two other four-wheel-drive models which would try to stop Volkswagen attempts of ruling this segment: the GSR Model of Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evolution and Subaru’s Impreza WRX-STI. These two vehicles are more powerful, the STI being lighter in weight compared to the R, which weighs 3450 pounds. We found that the Golf-R could reach 60 mph in about 5.6 seconds, which was slower by one second than the Evo GSR, which we had previously tested. The vehicle took 14.2 seconds to cover a quarter of a mile making it a bit slower than the TTS too. The previous Golf’s tendency to understeer has been nearly neutralized by a powerful rear axle, in the Volkswagen Golf R. Add to it a differential, driveshaft at the rear and half-shafts – this makes the front-axle load a very favorable 60 percent. A four-wheel-drive Haldex clutch provided reacts to slippage, also being able to send available torque into either axle.

2011 Volkswagen Golf R interior

As we were driving the R conforming to European specifications, we could sample the adjustable suspension, which won’t be present in the US model (aimed at lowering the price by VW). Luckily, for all of us, the tuning of the US model will nearly match the sportiest model of the European car.

2011 Volkswagen Golf R

The Handling Aspect:

The R has achieved a lot, with regards to its handling capability. The customized steering wheel is not very heavy and naturally makes the car pointed. The shock absorbers are adequate enough to not trouble the body of the passengers. Bigger brakes (front 13.6-inch, rear 12.2) do not merit extra feedback, offering only wee-bit resistance during the drive. The R comes at height of 57.5 inches, is a little short and dons the “R” badges at both the front and the rear.

2011 Volkswagen Golf R


The standard model is expected at a price of $35,000 whereas a fully-loaded with features version (keyless entry, sunroof, navigation and upgraded stereo) would cost $39,000.

We did not want to go deeper into research as we were simply delighted that Volkswagen Golf R had finally been launched!

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