Golf R arrives in Singapore

Having commandeered the F1 Pits and turn 1 of the track, VW invited press and interested clients to a sampling of its latest R-ware the Golf R. If one observes VWs on Singapore roads today, you will come to the inescapable conclusion that VW only sells GTI and GTs, lightly sprinkled with TSIs and lesser models.

(Read about Motor Prime's impressions of the Golf R HERE... with a special appearance by the R32)

Yup, GTI is VW's most famous sub-brand, with a luminosity even greater than the mother brand itself. Recently VW announced that they would form a department called R GmbH rather like M GmbH of BMW and quattro GmbH of its sister brand Audi.

The real precursor to the R GmbH was the "Individual" department responsible for customizing vcarious VWs for more discerning clients. VW has turned that department into the R GmbH and is responsible for the designing, production and marketing of R VWs including the R-designed body kits and interior decorative bits.

Can the Golf R match the R-Hype? Our first tantalising experience with the Golf R in Singapore was a short two lap run at the Marina Pit building of Singapore's F1 circuit. Not a full lap alas but sufficient for some initial impressions of the latest Golf R.

Without the tuneful V6 tenor of the previous R32 those waiting for their laps were treated to a rather sombre soundtrack. The 3.2-litre V6 was killed off by CO2 and various emission concerns as will many other great engines in the future.

However to make it interesting, VW turned up the wick and made the turbocharged 2-litre unit pump out 270PS (this has been detuned to 256bhp and 330Nm for Singapore's application), which tops the 250 bhp of the R32 by just a smidgen; the huge savings will come from the road tax difference between the previous 3.2L and the current R's 2L.

Of course the strength of a turbocharged engine is its torque and with 330 Nm at 2500 rpm plus barely discernible turbo-lag, the new engine makes up for the lack of acoustic verve with substantial performance gain and to those who care, lower CO2(195 gm/km) and better(-21 per cent) fuel efficiency as well.

There is a launch-control mode which is enabled by a combination of ESP-off, left-foot brake/hold and hit the accelerator pedal hard. The engine revs to 3-4000 rpm then release the brake and the Golf R scoots to 100 km/h in just 5.7 seconds  all rather undramatically as the active 4-Motion all wheel drive distributes torque so effectively to both axles that wheelspin and torque steer is non existent and perversely less exciting.

Larger brakes also handle the stopping and it hauls the 1541 kg Golf R to a halt quite impressively. With very little acclimatizing one gets used to its initial pressure progression easily and the initial impression of grabbiness fades into insignificance.

While the previous R32 was noticeably softer in its responses than the GTI (mk5) the new Golf R gets closer. But push hard and that added weight of the 4-Motion system begins to show up compared to the lighter Golf GTI. It gets close but will not beat it.

There is no denying the Golf R's performance and with 270 PS and 350 Nm of torque the active AWD is necessary (this has been detuned to 256bhp and 330Nm for Singapore's application), but it is so effective it has removed some of that excitement experienced in the GTI as the front wheels fight a bit with the power and taxes it more at the limit. The R is just too composed; perhaps 300 PS is necessary to excite the AWD system but then the tyres and suspension needs a quantum upgrade as well.

The jury is still out on the Golf R. We shall endeavor to bring you a full test. Watch this space.

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