Audi has its S-Line, BMW has M-Sport, Mercedes has AMG Line, and now Volkswagen has R-Line.
The question is, are the new breed of R-Line cars simply styling exercises, or does the R-Line badge add some substance to the package? Weâ€™ve driven the Scirocco and Touareg R-Line models to find out.
First impressions count, and the visual improvements to both these cars over lesser trim lines are superb. The Scirocco gains wide sculpted sill extensions and meatier bumpers, with familiar Volkswagen R features such as the horizontal grilles where the fog lights would normally sit. Having recently benefitted from a facelift, this Scirocco we drove with its Ultra Violet Metallic paint looks fantastic. The lines have all been sharpened up, and with just a few small tweaks, the whole appearance has been visually chiselled.
Across the car park, the Touareg, sat resplendent in Pure White and with its big chrome front end looked very imposing. Every line exudes robustness, ruggedness and durability. There are some great design points, like the way the bonnet creases line up perfectly with the outer limits of the grille, and the large chrome strip in the bumper continues its way rearwards along both flanks, further enhancing the masculine lines.
But enough about the looks, these are R-Line cars, how do they drive?
Well fortunately the talents of the R-Lines arenâ€™t just skin deep. The Touareg benefits from sports suspension with a 25mm drop all round, and it certainly feels good out on the road. For such a big truck you really can hustle it along. Itâ€™s no super stiff sports car, and itâ€™ll still cruise comfortably on a motorway, but the way it takes a lateral weight shift really does defy its size.
Our test car was fitted with the 262PS version of the 3.0 V6 TDi mated to an 8-speed Tiptronic Auto box. The engine pulls strongly and delivers nigh on hot hatch levels of performance, and being a V6 it makes a lovely noise while it goes about it. Performance wise, whilst on test in a straight line it could just about hang on to the Scirocco, not when the going got twisty however.
On the twisty sections, the Scirocco was just in a different league. But then it would be, itâ€™s a light, nimble, two-wheel drive Coupe fitted here with the 184PS 2.0TDi unit, hooked up to a 6-speed DSG box. Our test car also had the optional XDS electronic differential lock, which nigh on eliminates torque steer, and really gives you confidence to plant your foot and go, especially through tighter corners.
Weirdly, for a diesel, the Scirocco also has a Golf R style soundakator fitted to improve the aural experience within the cabin. Thrashing a diesel and hearing the five-cylinder style howl is a strange experience, but a pleasurable one nonetheless. The pleasure doesnâ€™t just come from the driving either, both these cars have beautifully crafted interiors from the sports seats in the Scirocco to the LCD screen in the Touareg that wraps around the dials. Top notch all round.
So, these cars have substance and style, where better place to take them too than Goodwood? Nestled in Lord Marchâ€™s fabulous estate, we parked outside Goodwoods Kennels in the winter sun to stand back and reflect on the two cars.
The R-Line is not a substitute for an R; letâ€™s get that one out there. The R-Line is the top trim level with aesthetic, handling and interior upgrades that give a luxurious yet sporting feel that apes the R cars.
So think of these cars as a way of bridging the gap between the R car and the rest of the range. They offer sportiness, refinement and high class interiors whilst retaining normal running costs. The official figures for the Touareg state 42.8mpg on the combined cycle and 58.9mpg for the Scirocco with the DSG â€˜box.
Should you buy one? Well, theyâ€™re fast, frugal, fun, and supremely well furnished, but not too frivolous. The Touareg as tested here has an OTR price of Â£48,215 but if you talk nicely to your dealer, youâ€™d be looking at closer to Â£43â€¦ That is great value for such a huge machine, with a gorgeous plush interior. Besides, the Touareg is worth it for the heated steering wheel alone.
Unexpectedly, I found the Scirocco a really pleasurable thing to pilot. Being based on the previous generation Golf underpinnings, I wasnâ€™t expecting it to feel quite so up to date. I liked the FWD only chassisâ€¦ it felt edgier than my Mk7 Golf, and slightly more alive. The DSG box really works well even couple with the diesel motor, and the whole package strikes a great balance of comfort and handling.
You can probably tell that I am impressed, so letâ€™s go back to that opening questionâ€¦
Does the R-Line badge add some substance to the package? Yes, it does.
Article: Jon Spriggs
Photography: Dan Sellar
Weâ€™d like to thank Andy Gray at Peter Cooper Volkswagen (Portsmouth) for the loan of their two R-Line Cars for our test, and the warm welcome they offered us. Peter Cooper has been an independent Volkswagen retailer since 1981, and has dealerships located in Southampton, Hedge End, Portsmouth and Chichester.
Their Portsmouth showroom has just undergone a Â£250,000 refurbishment which gives them a fresh new look and ensures they give their customers best possible service, from the moment they come into contact with them, all the way through their ownership of a Volkswagen.
Oh, and here's a little bonus video! There's a lot of wind noise, but the footage is good...