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SilverChariot's Golf R Test Drive

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First, a bit of background. I’ve owned 2 Mk 5 Golf R32s. Previous to that, I had a Mk 5 Golf 2.0 GT TDI. My current daily drive is a 4 year old Mondeo TDCI.


I’ve briefly driven a Mk 5 GTI, but never driven or even looked in a Mk 6 GTI. So, unfortunately, I cannot make any valid comparisons with the Mk 6 GTI.


The day finally arrives for my test drive and I pull up at the dealership on a dull, wet Yorkshire day.




The Mk 6 Golf R is sitting outside. The car’s in Blue Graphite which does it no favours. Apart from the wheels, it could be a normal cooking Golf. None of the R details show due to the dark flat colour.




On the subject of the wheels, I find them more attractive in real life than in photos I’ve seen. Even the 18” alloys look purposeful and fill the arches nicely.






The front Xenon headlights and LED tail lights are nice, if subtle, details.




Round the back and the twin tailpipes are almost (if not completely) identical to those on my old Mk 5 R32. The gloss effect diffuser is another great detail which is not really visible on this colour car.




The interior, again, is very much cooking Golf with subtle details. There are R badges in the cabin and on the sills. I’m surprised by the cloth seats – I was expecting to hate them. But, in real life they’re not at all bad. Still glad I specced leather though, even if it’s just for practical reasons.


The only other option on this car is the RCD510 which, with its colour screen, brings the cabin upmarket.


So, I start the car. The blue needles do a cool Audi-esque sweep of the dials. The exhaust note from the exterior settles into a nice growl. At low revs, it sounds nice and meaty (almost like the R32) and pops/crackles when the revs drop. Revved harder and it begins to sound more like a normal 4-pot. But, still not unattractive and certainly has character.


Having been a Mk 5 owner, all the switchgear is familiar. I would have to say the cabin quality and interior ergonomics are pretty much faultless IMHO.


So, we set off in the pouring rain. The engine noise from the interior is good. They have somehow carried the noise from the exterior into the car (sound generator?). I used to drive my Mk 5 R32 with the window down to hear the engine, but there’s no need with the Mk 6 R.


Crawling out of the city and the car rides beautifully, but you can feel it poised ready for the country lanes. After a few miles and a turn left off the main road, we find them.


The car has 58 miles on the clock. But the salesman gives me permission to thrape it (“These modern engines don’t need running in”). Result.


The acceleration is impressive and definitely faster than the R32. Whereas the R32 was linear all the way up to the red line, there’s an extra whoosh from the turbo after about 5,000 RPM. The sound and the power delivery are immediately addictive. The car has passed the “grin factor” test.


The R has the same planted feel as my old R32, but feels slightly less understeery and nose heavy in the corners. It’s still a very neutral and safe handling car. If you’re after a “real driver’s car”, then the R is probably not for you. However, if you’re after an all-weather point-and-squirt weapon, then the R is extremely satisfying.


I also found the gear change a bit vague. But, to be fair, I’m more of a DSG man. So that can probably be put down to my own ineptitude.


Brakes are - as expected - solid and fade-free.


Even though the road is streaming with water you get a tremendous sense of security. Overtaking cars is a breeze. Just floor the throttle around sharp bends and the car sorts it all out. I didn’t even see the ESP light come on.


After several minutes of spirited driving it’s time to settle down again. We pootle along and it’s back to a normal Golf again (apart the faint throaty exhaust note and that taut suspension urging you on to use it to its full ability). And that’s the amazing thing, how this car can switch personalities.


We arrive back at the dealership and sit down to do some PCP finance figures on the R I've ordered.


Not only have VW given this car a ludicrous price tag, but they’re offering a ridiculously low GMFV on PCP. This results in astronomical monthly payments – it really is taking the p**s.


Fortunately, I have other finance routes I can explore. But, it did make me think what an expensive car it is.


So, in summary, the car is brilliant. It is everything I expected plus a bit more. Not a driver’s car, but a real rounded package (dare I say boring!). It wants for nothing, apart from a discount.

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