Volkswagen Golf R Variant Review

The Volkswagen Golf R Estate is back! Introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show 2014 it is the first time since the R32 back in 2002 that estate Golf fans have access to the most potent version. With that, we headed to the south of Spain to experience one of 2015’s most anticipated cars, the Volkswagen Golf R Variant. The exact location for our first experience with this ‘Rapid Wagon’ was Malaga’s Asacri Race Resort and the surrounding area.

We arrived in Malaga on the Friday to some fantastic weather (this is an important issue when, like I, you live in the UK) and were greeted by the Volkswagen team who promptly handed over the keys to the 300 hp metallic ‘Lapiz Blue’ R Variant. On a brief look around the car, one of the first features that draws our eyes is the 18″ “Cadiz” alloy wheels and the high-gloss black diffuser with four chrome-plated tails pipes poking out. With the expected R design front and rear bumpers and “aero flaps” on the D-Pilars, the Golf R Variant gives off an appropriately aggressive look.

Upon jumping into our car, we select the “race” mode and set off on our pre-programmed, 105 minute, mountain route to the Hotel Vincci Selección Posada Del Patio. Instantly a big grin is put on our face as we press the accelerator and the 300 hp 2.0 TSI engine comes alive and the four tail pipes start to sing, even more in the tunnels along our route to the hotel. After a quick freshen up, it was a short walk across Malaga for the official presentation of the R Variant, GTD Variant and Alltrack.

The presentation was for Volkswagens three new Variants, the R, GTD and all new Alltrack. First up was the Golf Alltrack, designed to bridge the gap between on-road and off-road. Germany’s most successful automaker has raised the ground clearance by 20 mm and added a permanent 4MOTION four-wheel drive system. The Alltrack sits on 17″ alloys, and comes with the three engine options, the 110 PS 1.6TDI, 150 PS 2.0TDI and 184 PS TDI, with the later two coming with a six-speed DSG as standard. The Alltracks standout feature is it’s Haldex-5 coupling which is activated by an electro-hydraulic oil pump, with its management system continually calculating the ideal driving torque to deliver to the rear axle.

Next was the Golf R Variant, the focal point for our trip, delivering 300 hp and 380 Nm of torque from its turbocharged 2.0 TSI engine. The Golf R Variant comes equipped with the 6-speed DSG gearbox as standard, reaching a limited top speed of 250 km/h and 100 km/h in just 5.1 seconds whist consuming 7.0 litres of fuel per 100 km. As previously mentioned, the R Variant receives a new “R” style rear bumper, high-gloss black diffuser, that works perfectly with the four chrome-plated exhaust pipes and “aero-flaps” on the D-pillars. At the front, we see the expected R-specific bumper, noticeable by the large air inlets, a unique radiator grille with “R” logo and the standard bi-xenon headlights with R-specific integrated daytime running lights. The R Variant is glued to the ground on a set of 225/40 tyres that can be wrapped around either 18″ or 19″ ‘Cadiz’ alloys or the 19″ ‘Pretoria’ motorsport inspired alloys.

The last car present, but by no means least, was the Golf GTD Variant. The GTD offers 180 hp of power with 380 Nm of torque from its 2.0-litre 4-cylinder diesel engine. This engine powers the GTD Variant to 231 km/h and a fuel consumption of as little as 4.4l/100km. The GTD features a sporty look, with a dynamic GTD style front and rear bumper, dual chrome exhaust pipes and 17″ alloys. Bi-xenon headlights and sports suspension with XDS, vehicle dynamic functions and ESC sport added to the sportiness of the car.

Exterior design

The Golf R Variant features a new rear design concept, following the dominant line of the R hatchback up to the B-pillars and with special modifications outlining the unique design of the Variant, one of which is “aero flaps” on the D-pillars. The rear is distinguishable from other Golf Variants by the new “R” style bumper, high gloss diffuser and four chrome-plated tailpipes that poke out of it. The rear is finished off with dark-red tail lights and a number plate illuminated by LEDs.

The front has the expected “R” specific bumper with very large air inlets and unique grille. Bi-xenon headlights with integrated “U” pattern daytime running lights come as standard, producing a distinctive pattern during the both night and day. Down the side, your eyes are drawn to the specially designed 18″ Cadiz alloy wheels, wrapped in 225/40 tyres. These can be upgraded to 19″ Cadiz alloys or 19″ Pretoria motorsport designed wheels available in metallic grey, black or black with blue wheel flanges. There is also “R” logos on the front wings, matt chrome door mirrors and high-gloss black window trim.

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Interior design

Inside the Volkswagen Golf R Variant is an exclusive sports seat system, wrapped in a fabric-Alcantara mix with crystal grey stitching and “R” logo. Volkswagen also offer a Nappa Carbon Leather package that sees the inner side panels and head restraints upholstered in a dark “Carbon” style leather, whilst the middle seat panels can be either light or dark Nappa leather. As expected the steering wheel also features the “R” logo, whilst when the ignition is switched on, the dials illuminate in light blue and sweep to the end of their range.

Driving

Day 2 started early to make the most of our time driving these three cars, and our destination was the Ascari Race Resort 92 km away. For this first trip, we are giving the new Golf Alltrack. The Alltrack tackles this with comfort and ease, and we are at Asacri in what feels like no time, ready to have a more in depth play with the new R Variant that are waiting for us. After a quick look around the facilities, we’re talked through the days experiences by the Volkswagen experience drivers and then we are sat in the Golf R Variant in the pit lane.

With the sun breaking through the clouds, we head out onto the track in a group of four following the experience driver in his ‘regular’ Golf R. With each lap of the track we asked more of the car, picking up our speed and pushing the car harder into the corners, waiting for it to say no more and step out of line. The Golf R handled the track great, and at times made us forgot it was an estate capable of carrying a family around and making trips to the DIY store. After a quick lunch break by the pool, we are back in R Variant for more flying laps of Ascari, picking up where we left off and our confidence in the car rising each lap.

Day 3 and we get the keys to the Golf R again and decided to take the long 130 km route along the coast, through Marbella and Puerto Banus, before heading up the mountains back to Ascari. Unfortunately, the weather during the day didn’t look too good on the forecasts, with Ascari looking likely to be covered in rain. With that in mind, we took our time along the coast taking in the rather quiet Sunday streets, and headed up the mountain, stopping along the way for some photos. The higher we went, the worse the weather got and by the time we reached Ascari, the heavens had fully opened and the days planned activities had been put on hold in the hope that the weather may pass. After an hour or so, checking the the weather forecast regularly, the weather wasn’t going to clear before the end of the day.

As a result, we decided to grab the keys to the Golf R again and made our way back down the mountain in the hope that the weather on the coast would be better. As we waded our way back down, the 4-Motion four wheel drive system kept us planted to the drenched tarmac. Back down on the coast and the sun was out, and we cruised back up to Malaga through the centre of Marbella, grabbing the attention of the locals and tourist with our striking look and low rumble from the quad-pipes.

GTD & Alltrack

During our time at Ascari we also had the pleasure of experiencing the other two cars Volkswagen had revealed, the Alltrack and GTE Variant. As well as the first drive up to Ascari, we also took the Alltrack through Ascari’s offroad course during the second day. This course involved offroad tracks that would push fully fledged 4x4s to their limits, with uneven terrain that forces the car onto three wheels, a 45° camber track and a decent of 60 per cent. The Alltrack, equipped with its 4Motion four-wheel drive system, Haldex coupling, that acts as a longitudinal lock, and EDL system handles these tasks with easy. Due to this system, the Alltrack is capable of descending inclines of up to 60 per cent at a constant speed between 5-25 km/h with no need for the driver to apply the brake!

On our fourth and final day in the south of Spain, we took the “Metallic Carbon Steel Grey” GTD Variant with the 2.0l, 180 hp TDI engine and DSG transmission. The GTD made a great cruiser for the 80 km loop round the back of Malaga and back to the airport. Surprising us by how sporty it could be when unleashed on the quiet mountain roads, whilst providing a comfy and durable ride expected from a car designed for touring.

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Conclusion
The new Volkswagen Golf R Variant is a well rounded car, and a lot of fun. So much so that sometimes you can forgot you are in an estate car. The style catches your eye for all the right reasons, whilst retaining the great usability and comfort expected form an estate car. It also has an addictive sound track to bounce off of those tunnels. Pricing of the Golf R Variant starts at €42,925 in Germany.

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