The Volkswagen Golf R is the hot-rod edition of the Golf and GTI hatchbacks. Our Automatic Golf R comes well loaded with Satellite navigation system with colour display touch screen, Lane departure warning system activates steering, Automatic air conditioning with two climate control zones, Automatic full and part-time four wheel drive, Automatic smart card/key includes keyless entry and keyless start, Bluetooth includes phone connection and music streaming, Electrically foldable mirrors and Traction control, Front/Rear radar-type parking distance sensors, Media control touch screen, Mobile Integration using Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink Multi-collision braking, Navigation via mobile phone, and plenty more.
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Location: County Motor Works Vauxhall - Stock At This Dealer
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Best part-ex price paid
Ready to test drive
Qualifies for Warranty4life
VW Golf R seats five and comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine 288 horsepower and well equipped with plenty of safety, technology and in-car entertainment features.
Emissions and Fuel
* Price does not include road fund license
Electric front windows, Electric rear windows, Heated rear windscreen, Rear window wash/wipe with intermittent wipe, Windscreen wipers/ intermittent wipe + 4 position delay
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Hydraulic Brake Assist (HBA), Automatic post collision braking system, Electronic parking brake with auto hold, Electronic stability control (ESC) including Electronic differential lock (EDL) and ASR (Traction control) with deactivation via infotainment system, Front ventilated disc brakes and rear disc brakes
Bluetooth telephone and audio connection for compatible devices
ACC - Adaptive cruise control with front assist, forward collision warning, distance monitoring, city emergency brake and speed limiter, Driver alert system, Driving Mode Selection with four preset modes - Eco, normal, sport or individual modes, Power assisted speed sensitive electro-mechanical steering, Rear view camera, Ultrasonic front and rear optical and audible parking sensors
Push tank flap, Stop/start system
'Lights On' Reminder warning buzzer, Brake pad wear indicator warning light, Multifunction computer with visual gear change recommendation for fuel consumption, Speed limit display, Speedo, rev counter, electronic odometer, trip, service interval display, exterior temperature and fuel gauge, Think blue trainer driver tips and journey analysis, Unique R instrument cluster, Warning buzzer and light for front seatbelts unfastened
Electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors
Carbon touch decorative inserts, Chrome plated air vent surround, Chrome plated electric mirror adjustment switch surround, Chrome-plated light switch surround, Piano black decorative inserts in centre console
Battery regeneration during braking
Composition media system, DAB Digital radio receiver, Driver Personalisation profile selection, MP3/WMA compatability, Multi device interface (MDI) via USB connection, Premium USB cable in choice of either Apple or Android smartphone compatibility, SMS Functionality, Title and cover art display, USB and SD card connectivity, Volkswagen media control
Exterior Body Features
Black front air intake and radiator grille with chrome insert, Body colour door handles, Body colour rear roof spoiler, Chrome trimmed front air intake surrounds, Extended sill strips flared, Fully galvanised body, Rear window aerial, Reflectors in all doors, Sill extensions, Unique R badging, Unique R design key, Unique R radiator grille with matt chrome strip, Uniquely shaped front/rear bumpers
3D-LED tinted rear light clusters with indicator sweep function, Dusk sensor + automatic driving lights, High level 3rd brake light incorporating LED Technology, LED headlights with dynamic light assist, Range adjustable headlights via infotainment system with LED daytime running lights, Rear fog lamp, Rear number plate lights incorporating LED technology
Climate control - 2 zone electronic air conditioning with automatic air recirculation and allergy filter, Dust/pollen filter
12V socket in luggage compartment, 4 load lashing points in luggage compartment, Bag hook in luggage compartment x 2, Black roof lining, Cooled glovebox, Cover for storage compartment in centre, Front centre armrest with storage compartment and two rear air vents, Grab handles front x 2, rear x 2 with integrated coat hooks, Height and reach adjustable steering wheel, Load through provision with rear centre armrest and cupholders x2, Overhead storage box, Rear diffuser in black with twin oval chrome exhaust tailpipes left and right, Storage box in luggage compartment, Storage compartment in roof console with cover, Storage compartments in centre console, Storage compartments in front doors, Storage compartments in rear doors, Stowable luggage compartment cover, Sun visors, Three spoke leather trimmed multifunction steering wheel with R logo and gear knob gaiter, Unique R gear lever knob, Variable boot floor, height adjustable and removable
Interior light delay, Luggage compartment lighting
Ambient lighting pack - Golf, Convenience Pack - Golf, Mirror pack - Golf, Winter pack - Golf
3 rear three point seatbelts, Airbags - Driver's and front passenger's, curtain airbag, Driver's knee, front side impact and passenger's airbag deactivation switch, Child locks on rear doors, Driver/Passenger optimised head restraints, Pre crash preventive occupant protection, Three point height adjustable front seatbelts with tensioners, Tyre pressure loss indicator
3 rear headrests, 60/40 split folding rear seat backrest, Front seat back storage pockets, Isofix preparation for 2 rear child seats
Alarm with interior protection and deactivation via infotainment system, Electronic engine immobiliser, Keyless entry with start/stop button on centre console
Mechanical limited slip differential
Illuminated vanity mirrors
Wheels - Spare
Steel space saver spare wheel
|Badge Engine CC:||2.0|
|Based On ID:||N|
|Coin Description:||TSI 300|
|Insurance Group 1 - 50 Effective January 07:||39E|
|Man Corrosion Perforation Guarantee - Years:||12|
|Manufacturers Paintwork Guarantee - Years:||3|
|NCAP Adult Occupant Protection %:||95|
|NCAP Child Occupant Protection %:||89|
|NCAP Overall Rating - Effective February 09:||5|
|NCAP Pedestrian Protection %:||76|
|NCAP Safety Assist %:||78|
|Service Interval Frequency - Months:||24|
|Service Interval Mileage:||10000|
|Standard manufacturers warranty - Mileage:||60000|
|Standard manufacturers warranty - Years:||3|
|Timing Belt Interval Frequency - Months:||N|
|Timing Belt Interval Mileage:||N|
|Vehicle Homologation Class:||M1|
|Noise Level dB(A):||70|
|Standard Euro Emissions:||EURO 6|
|WLTP - CO2 (g/km) - Comb:||195|
|Engine Layout:||FRONT TRANSVERSE|
|Fuel Delivery:||TURBO DIRECT INJECTION|
|Number of Valves:||16|
|EC Combined (mpg):||N|
|EC Extra Urban (mpg):||N|
|EC Urban (mpg):||N|
|WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb - TEH:||8.7|
|WLTP - FC (l/100km) - Comb - TEL:||8.6|
|WLTP - MPG - Comb - TEH:||32.5|
|WLTP - MPG - Comb - TEL:||32.8|
|0 to 62 mph (secs):||4.7|
|Engine Power - BHP:||300|
|Engine Power - KW:||221|
|Engine Power - PS:||True|
|Engine Power - RPM:||5500|
|Engine Torque - LBS.FT:||295|
|Engine Torque - MKG:||40.8|
|Engine Torque - NM:||400|
|Engine Torque - RPM:||2000|
|Emissions Test Cycle:||WLTP|
|Tyre Size Front:||225/40 R18|
|Tyre Size Rear:||225/40 R18|
|Tyre Size Spare:||SPACE SAVER|
|Wheel Type:||18" ALLOY|
|Height (including roof rails):||N|
|Width (including mirrors):||2027|
|Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres):||55|
|Gross Vehicle Weight:||2020|
|Luggage Capacity (Seats Down):||1270|
|Luggage Capacity (Seats Up):||380|
|Max. Loading Weight:||495|
|Max. Roof Load:||75|
|No. of Seats:||5|
|Turning Circle - Kerb to Kerb:||10.9|
You've done the Volkswagen Golf GTI and now want something with sharper teeth? Try the latest Golf R. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Want the ultimate hot hatch? Volkswagen's rejuvenated Golf R could well be it. This can't claim to be the fastest car of its kind but its Wolfsburg maker reckons it's the most complete, most rewarding and most dynamic shopping rocket yet made. Depending on your mood, it can reach 168mph on the racetrack or register better than 35mpg on the school run. Your everyday supercar is right here.
We've had the Golf R around in various forms since 2009 and the formula it offers hasn't fundamentally changed much in that time. There's VW's 2.0-litre TSI turbo petrol engine in its fastest form, 4MOTION 4WD and a slice of Golf GTI engineering tuned up to the max. This latest version, based on the current MK8 Golf architecture, doesn't deviate much from that script but does usefully embellish it. And of course, predictably, it claims to be the quickest and most powerful Golf ever made. That isn't enough to allow it to fully take on uber-fast super hatches like the Mercedes-AMG A 45 or the Audi RS3. But the Golf R significantly undercuts both these models on price and in real world point-to-point motoring probably isn't much slower. Plus a major draw is that its pavement presence is that bit more understated. You could get away with one of these in the company carpark without Directorship-level eyebrows being raised. Sounds tempting.
So to what you need to know here. The fourth generation 'Evo 4' version of this Volkswagen's EA888 2.0-litre TSI turbo petrol unit now puts out 320PS. Just as it does in the Tiguan R and Arteon R models that also use it. 62mph from rest occupies 4.7s (0.2s faster than the previous car could manage) and if you pay extra for the optional 'R-Performance upgrade' package, Volkswagen will remove the 155mph speed limiter so that 168mph is possible. All this motor's pulling power is available from just 2,100rpm. Power though, is nothing without control - and this Golf R has more of that. For the first time, power can be distributed not only between front and rear axles but also between the rear wheels. Thanks to a new torque vectoring system using a pair of electronically operated multi-disc clutches, output can be balanced across the rear axle from 0-100% within milliseconds. You're going to want that optional 'R-Performance' upgrade package because it includes two extra driving modes. 'Special' was configured for optimum performance at the legendary Nurburgring Nordschliefe race track (around which the latest car is apparently 17 seconds quicker than its predecessor). There's also 'Drift', configured for general wild racetrack use. Changes common to both Golf R variants include 10% stiffer springs, a 1.3-degree front axle camber change and steering software tweaked to be more direct. The brake discs are 17mm bigger and feature crisper pedal response. And the front aluminium subframe is 3kgs lighter. All good to know.
Apart from that hoovered-to-the-tarmac ride height, the Golf R is distinguished by its 18-inch 'Jerez' alloy wheels (upgradeable to 19-inchers), full R body kit, roof spoiler and quad exhaust pipes - a feature that subtly hints at the model's potency compared with other Golf models. The model's brake callipers are finished in the hallmark shade of Volkswagen R blue, and feature the R division's logo, while the car's door mirrors are finished in a matt chrome effect - another identifier of the powerful and enthusiast-focused Golf R. Inside, a bespoke, heated R steering wheel features, with a new R button which allows the driver direct access to the car's newly enhanced range of drive modes without needing to take their hands away from the wheel. Extended paddle shifters also add to the driver-focused convenience of the model's cockpit. Sports seats with integrated head restraints feature a 'Sardegna' design in black-blue cloth, unique to the new R models, while the outer areas are in ArtVelours. Otherwise, everything is much as it would be in an ordinary Golf. There's comfortable space for a couple of adults on the back seat and the convenience of a reasonably-sized 380-litre boot.
This Golf R was priced from just over £39,000 at launch. Most customers will want to find the £2,000 extra necessary for the optional 'R-Performance Package'. It brings upgraded 19-inch 'Estoril' alloy wheels, a performance rear spoiler for added downforce, and an increased top speed of 168 mph (where permitted). The pack also adds two new driver modes; Drift and Special. Drift mode is entirely focused upon driver enjoyment away from public highways. This mode uses the full potential of the new R-Performance Torque Vectoring and enables the driver to drift the new Golf R on private tracks. The pack also introduces a 'Special' mode that provides the car with the perfect setup to tackle the famously challenging N??rburgring. This is an extension of the standard Race driving mode, in which the engine sound is increased, while the DSG, optional DCC, progressive steering and the all-wheel drive system are adjusted to a sportier set-up. Several accessories are available for the Golf R including an Akrapovic titanium exhaust, panoramic sunroof, Harmon/Kardon sound system and a head up display. Volkswagen also says that this current generation model will be upgradeable, so if required, features like adaptive cruise control, light assist and a wi-fi hotspot can be added and enabled after you bought the car. Most owners will want to consider the option of adding DCC adaptive damping. The car's driver assistance systems include lane change assist and Travel Assist with Side Assist and Emergency Assist.
Granted, you don't buy a car like the Volkswagen Golf R to wow your friends with its environmental credentials, but it's hard not to be impressed with a combined fuel consumption of between 35.3mpg and 36.2mpg on the combined cycle. Likewise, emissions are also very good, registering between 177 and 181g/km. Insurance is group 31E. And the warranty? Well the standard package is three years and 60,000 miles. We can't see why Volkswagen couldn't extend that mileage limit to 100,000 miles, since that what you get on its mechanically very similar Caddy model. Doing that though, wouldn't give Volkswagen dealers so much of an opportunity to sell extended warranty packages. There's one for four years and 75,000 miles or, if you plan to see a bit more of the world in your Golf GTI, there's a five year / 90,000 mile package.
The Volkswagen Golf R might seem a bit of a conundrum. On the one hand, it's a four-wheel drive, 320PS, two-litre turbo road rocket; the sort of car that you thought had gone out of fashion. On the other, it's a wholly civilised, beautifully built family hatch that can better 35mpg and emits less carbon dioxide than many much slower hot hatches. That, more than its incredible performance figures, shows us how times have changed and how fast hatches have needed to rehabilitate themselves or die. Offering a strong value proposition and no shortage of capability, it's hard to see how this rejuvenated Volkswagen Golf R can fail. Can it match the polished capability of a BMW M135i or the vivacity and excitement delivered by the Renaultsport Megane or the Honda Civic Type R? That will very much depend on how you like your sports hatches but one thing's for sure. You've never had it so good.
By Jonathan Crouch
With the Volkswagen Golf R, the Wolfsburg brand tried to provide the definitive super hot hatch. This post-2013 version was the second Golf R model we'd seen from the company and it came equipped to cause some serious waves in the fastest part of the shopping rocket sector, featuring 4WD and packing 300PS, enough to reach 62mph from rest in just 4.9s. It'll also register better than 40mpg on the combined cycle. Your everyday supercar is right here.
The GTI might be the definitive sporty Golf but there are those for whom even this iconic sports hatch doesn't quite deliver the goods. They want more. More grip, more speed, more presence, just more. The thing is, the market for exactly this sort of thing was turned on its head at the end of the Noughties by BMW's M135i. Here was a car that delivered more. 306PS to be exact, and delivered a premium badge in the process for less than £30,000. It was a game changer. Volkswagen needed to respond and deliver a vehicle that could put the upstart M135i in its place. The GTI couldn't do it. But Wolfsburg delivered a hot hatch that could. Step up the Golf R, launched first in 2009 in 270PS form, then re-launched as part of the MK7 generation Golf range in 2013 with 310PS. Both R models boasted 4WD - but it's the later post-2013 car we look at here as a potential used buy. This era Golf R was lightly facelifted in 2017, at the same time as power from its 2.0 TSI turbo petrol engine was marginally uprated to 310PS, then reduced again to 300PS near the end of the production run in 2019 to meet ever-tightening emission regulations.
Apart from that hoovered-to-the-tarmac ride height, the Golf R is distinguished by its revised front bumper assembly, indented with massive air inlets, a modified radiator grille with 'R' logo and daytime running lamps that are integrated into the standard bi-xenon headlights. Move round to the side and you'll clock the aggressive body-colour sills and matt chrome-capped door mirrors. From launch in 2013, the R came as standard with a tasty set of 18-inch 'Cadiz' alloy wheels wrapped in 225/40 tyres, but many owners chose the optional 19-inch 'Pretoria' alloys. The brakes are ventilated discs all round, measuring 30mm by 340mm at the front and 22mm by 310mm at the back. A big part of the Golf VII design process was a determined weight loss plan and the R benefitted from this by shedding around 45kg from the kerb weight of its predecessor. Its kerb weight of 1,476kg might seem quite hefty for a family hatch sized car but factor in the all-wheel drive transmission and it doesn't seem quite so bad. The interior features cloth sports seats with Alcantara bolsters (leather upholstery was available as an option), while the instrument dials are unique to the R and include some smart touches such as blue needles. If you come to this post-2013-generation R model fresh from its direct predecessor, you'll find yourself feeling slightly more comfortable at the wheel but perhaps unable to precisely reason why. Let us tell you. The brilliantly comfortable seat was shifted back for the posr-2013-era model, at the same time as the pedals were made a little more widely spaced and there was more adjustment possible from the leather-trimmed, flat-bottomed multi-function steering wheel, through which you view lovely instrument dials reminiscent of high-end chronometers. Start the engine and the needles swing once to the end scale position and then back. Lovely. In between the gauges is a centre display with carousel-style graphics that deliver everything from sat nav information to a lap timer. Some of this information is also replicated on the 8-inch colour infotainment touch screen that dominates the centre of the dash and will be the biggest cabin change for buyers of the previous 2009-2013-era R model, a feature you can control merely by swiping your finger across its surface as you do on a smart 'phone. This display is the starting point for operation of the Driver Profile selection system that can alter the throttle mapping and engine management set-up to suit your chosen driving style. More conventionally, there's access to the stereo with its DAB digital radio, the trip computer and all manner of Bluetooth telephony - enough to make your mobile device feel right at home. Especially if your car has been fitted with the 'Advanced telephone connection' option that'll enable you to link it in to the car's external aerial for improved reception. Thankfully, ventilation controls were left off the menu of screen functions, operable instead by three chunky dials below. Stabbing away at a touchscreen every time you want to change the fan speed or cabin temperature is a modern innovation most owners, we think, could do without. A bit like the electronic handbrake in fact, something you have to have here. In the back seat, you'll most notice the improvements wrought through the introduction of the hi-tech MQB platform - and the 53mm wheelbase increase it allows. Rear legroom rose with this post-2012 R model by 15mm, despite the change we mentioned earlier, that of the front seats being moved further back to better suit taller drivers. Shoulder and elbow-room were both improved too and headroom's also quite adequate, despite this generation model's small reduction in exterior roof height. As usual in this class, three adults would be a little squashed here but a trio of kids will be quite happy. Out back, there's more space for luggage than there was in the 2009-2012-era Golf R, the cargo bay 30-litres larger than before at 380-litres - that's 10% bigger than a Megane Renaultsport from this time and 20% bigger than a Focus RS from this period. It's easier to use too, with probably the lowest loading sill height in the class, a wide hatch aperture and a wide base on the dual-height luggage floor. There's a ski hatch too for longer items. Fold the 60/40 split rear seats down and you get useful 1270-litres - again one of the biggest spaces in the class from this era.
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Most owners of this 2013-2019-era Golf R model we surveyed were very happy with their cars, but inevitably, there have been those who have had problems you'll want to look out for. There have been a few reported issues with the DSG auto gearbox, so make sure the gearbox changes properly. Timing chains fitted to the 2.0 TSI petrol engine have been known to snap prematurely; this can cause a lot of damage - and more than that if the car isn't regularly serviced, so insist on a fully stamped-up service record. Golf R models can also suffer from high oil consumption, so it's vital to keep checking the oil level, even between services. If the level gets too low, it can cause damage to the engine or timing chain. One owner reported squeaky noises coming from the suspension over speed humps. Another noted that his steering wheel made a slightly wheezy noise when going round bends slowly. There were reports of the boot juddering when closing. And fuel caps that were difficult to open, making re-fuelling a struggle. One owner reported vibration from the door cards at the front and the rear. And another reckoned that his infotainment system was choosing not to function in very cold weather - and at times, was choosing to control itself. As for mechanical stuff, well we came across one owner who'd had a clutch go after just 4,600 miles - but that's very unusual. Another experienced faulty injectors. And another experienced a power failure related to his DSG auto gearbox. Also look out for smearing wipers, problems with the cabin air blowers and a rattle from the gearbox over speed humps.
[based on a 2017 model Golf R ex VAT] An air filter will be priced in the £13 to £20 bracket, an oil filter will sit in the £5 to £15 bracket. A radiator will likely cost between £95 and £115. The front brake discs we came across commonly sat in the £50 to £70 bracket, with pricier-branded discs costing between £120 and £250. The rear brake discs we came across commonly sat in the £40 to £86 bracket, with pricier-branded discs costing up to around £115. Front brake pads are in the £27 to £65 bracket for a set but for pricier brands, you could pay up to nearly £75. Rear pads cost in the £20-£37 bracket. A thermostat is around £19. A water pump is around £53-£73,. A radiator is around £152-£158. Wiper blades cost around £9.
That 300PS power output is the headline number as far as the Golf R is concerned (upgraded to 310PS at the time of this car's 2017 model year facelift but then subsequently reduced to 300PS again). Delve a little deeper into this car's stats though and you'll find some other facts that will stop you in your tracks. In manual form it gets to 62mph in 5.3 seconds, but unleash its potential with a DSG twin-clutch sequential transmission and it rockets through that benchmark in just 4.9 seconds. Power is delivered through a fifth-generation Haldex all-wheel drive system, which sends drive to the front wheels during modest throttle loads, but can then direct almost 100 per cent of drive to the rear axle if required. Top speed is limited to 155mph. The ride height is 20 mm lower than the standard Golf's and 5 mm lower than the GTI's, while Adaptive Chassis Control (DCC) was a popular option. This offers a 'Race' mode, which increases damping, reducing body movements in the process. In conjunction with the driver profile selector, Race mode also sharpens the throttle response and alters the shift pattern of the DSG gearbox.
The 2013-2019-era Volkswagen Golf R might seem a bit of a conundrum. On the one hand, it's a four-wheel drive, 300PS, two-litre turbo road rocket; the sort of car that you thought had gone out of fashion with the demise of the Subaru Impreza WRX and Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. On the other, it's a wholly civilised, beautifully built family hatch that can better 40mpg and emits less carbon dioxide than a VW Lupo GTI. That, more than its incredible performance figures, shows us how times have changed and how fast hatches have needed to rehabilitate themselves or die. Offering a strong value proposition and no shortage of capability, it's easy to see how the Volkswagen Golf R found such a ready market amongst more mature hot hatch fans. Whether it's for you though, will very much depend on how you like your sports hatches.
By Jonathan Crouch
The Volkswagen Golf GTI wears one of the most iconic badges around and this post-2012 Mk7 model proved to be a class act. It was bigger, quicker, better built and more efficient than its predecessor, offering a choice of three doors or five, standard or 'Performance Pack' models and manual gearbox or DSG semi-auto transmission. This car proved to be the best all-rounder from its era in the hot hatch division. But does it make sense on the used market?
3dr/5dr Hatch (GTI, GTI Performance Pack, GTI Clubsport S)
Before Volkswagen dreamed up the Golf GTI, there was no such thing as a 'hot hatchback'. Today of course, the phrase has entered everyday parlance and virtually any manufacturer that has a hatchback also has a hot one - or a warm one at the very least. It was 1976 when the original version of this car was born and since then, through continual generations and with the help of countless imitators, it has brought performance, handling and fun to the masses on an unprecedented scale. The Golf GTI we look at here was the mark seven version and claimed to be the best yet at its original launch in 2012. But did that mean 'best of breed' or 'best in class'? This car, after all, may define the hot hatch genre but prior to 2012, it had rarely been recognised as the most accomplished car in its sector. In fact, to be brutally honest, there have been some distinctly average Golf GTI models over the years, the low point reached in the Nineties with unremarkable third and fourth generation models. All that changed though, in 2005 with a completely re-developed fifth generation version that also lent its platform and most of its 2.0-litre turbo mechanicals to the slicker MK6 design that followed in 2009. For the first time since the Seventies and early Eighties, a hot Golf was a credible driver's choice once again. By 2012 though, Volkswagen's iconic shopping rocket was beginning to be overtaken by a whole host of rivals, all of whom offered more firepower and greater technical superiority. Another big step forward was called for - and this seventh generation Golf GTI claimed to represent exactly that. Wolfsburg's hi-tech MQB platform made it lighter and more efficient, there was hi-tech suspension and steering, plus extra power up-front (220PS) along with the option of a pokier Performance Pack (boosting output to 230PS) if that wasn't enough. A rorty three-door GTI Clubsport S version with 310PS was launched in 2016. And the standard GTI was facelifted, along with the rest of the Golf range, for the 2017 model year, an update that boosted power of the standard model to 230PS and that of the 'Performance Pack' variant to 245PS. In 2018, the standard 230PS model was phased out and only the 'Performance Pack' variant remained until the end of the production cycle in 2019.
What do you think of in terms of the small but significant distinguishing features that have always marked out a Golf GTI from its ordinary stablemates? The red stripe around the radiator grille? The black border around the rear screen? The smaller sports steering wheel, golf ball-shaped gear knob or tartan-trimmed seats? All of these things have characterised this model line for nearly forty years and back in 2012 when this MK7 Golf GTI was first launched, Volkswagen wasn't about change them. But subtle evolution was required for this seventh generation version - and that's exactly what we got. One glance might suggest that this car isn't much different from what went before. Take another. A new MQB platform gave this model a sportier, more dynamic stance. That's down to the way that the front wheels were moved further forward, reducing the front overhang, visually lengthening the V-shaped bonnet and moving the passenger compartment a little towards the rear. The result is a gym-toned look that's particularly nice at the side, with the C-pillar design supposed to resemble the drawn string of a bow, giving the Golf a look of acceleration even when it's standing still. Confident and assertive then, without being overly showy - but then this has never been a model to champion lairy spoilers and drainpipe exhausts. Instead, you get a car that sits 15mm lower to the road than its humbler siblings, the lovely 18-inch alloy wheels with their red callipers filling the arches purposefully. As is usually the case, the three-door version looks a bit better than its five-door counterpart, the longer doors having the visual effect of lengthening and lowering the profile. On to the detail visual changes made to the MK7 Golf GTI. At the front end, you get a red styling line that extends not only across the grille but also clean through bi-xenon light clusters that sit above three lateral high gloss black aerodynamic fins sitting either side of the honeycomb-trimmed screen that covers the lower air intake. At the side, there are red-on-chrome 'GTI' wing vents that begin the stronger of the two character profile lines, a crease that flows down the flanks into a silver centre section of smoked LED tail lights marking out a rear hatch styled to continue the understatedly purposeful theme. The roof spoiler is supposed to be larger than that found on any ordinary Golf but you wouldn't know it. More obvious are the twin chromed tailpipes that sit either side of a black diffuser. Take a seat inside and there's just enough differentiation to justify this car's heritage and substantial asking price. We've already mentioned the three features that brand aficionados will expect - the chunky three-spoke sports wheel, the tartan seat coverings and the golf ball-shaped gear knob. But this cabin is anything but a throwback, with buttons and switches precisely where you'd want to find them and everything just as it should be. The carpet that lines the storage boxes so that your keys don't scrape around on the move. The upholstered material used for the upper section of the dashboard that's lovely to the touch. The central armrest that adjusts for length and five stages of height. And a 2Zone climate control system that can even adjust itself according to the direction of the sun. It's better than a BMW from this era, every bit as good as an Audi from this period and it all means that if you were to sit in a Ford Focus ST or a Renaultsport Megane from this time after driving one of these, it'd be a bit like stepping from Harvey Nichols into Primark. Could it be a little more showy? Perhaps, but the red stitching, the dark roof fabric, the GTI trim strips and the stainless steel pedal caps do just enough to set the performance theme. Can the same be said of the red ambience lighting? We think it a little 'Hamburg night club': you may disagree. At least Volkswagen resisted the urge to slather this cabin with carbon fibre, material that at one point was going to be used for the entire roof section - until the idea was abandoned due to the production complications it would have created at the Wolfsburg and Zwickau factories. If you come to this seventh generation model fresh from its direct MK6 predecessor, you'll find yourself feeling slightly more comfortable at the wheel but perhaps unable to precisely reason why. Let us tell you. The brilliantly comfortable seat was shifted back for the seventh generation model, at the same time as the pedals were made a little more widely spaced and there was more adjustment possible from the leather-trimmed, flat-bottomed multi-function steering wheel, through which you view lovely instrument dials reminiscent of high-end chronometers. Start the engine and the needles swing once to the end scale position and then back. Lovely. In between the gauges is a centre display with carousel-style graphics that deliver everything from sat nav information to a lap timer. Some of this information is also replicated on the colour infotainment touch screen that dominates the centre of the dash and will be the biggest cabin change for buyers of previous GTI models, a feature you can control merely by swiping your finger across its surface as you do on a smart 'phone. In early MK7 Golf GTI models, it was 5.8-inches in size as standard but could be upgraded to an 8-inch item if, as was mostly the case, the original buyer opted for the more sophisticated sat nav option. The 8-inch screen was standardised after the 2017 model year facelift. This display is the starting point for operation of the Driver Profile selection system that can alter the throttle mapping and engine management set-up to suit your chosen driving style. More conventionally, there's access the stereo with its DAB digital radio, the trip computer and all manner of Bluetooth telephony - enough to make your mobile device feel right at home. Especially if your car has been fitted with the 'Advanced telephone connection' option that'll enable you to link it in to the car's external aerial for improved reception. Thankfully, ventilation controls were left off the menu of screen functions, operable instead by three chunky dials below. Stabbing away at a touchscreen every time you want to change the fan speed or cabin temperature is a modern innovation most owners, we think, could do without. A bit like the electronic handbrake in fact, something you have to have here. In the back seat, you'll most notice the improvements wrought through the introduction of the hi-tech MQB platform - and the 53mm wheelbase increase it allows. Rear legroom rose with this MK7 model by 15mm, despite the change we mentioned earlier, that of the front seats being moved further back to better suit taller drivers. Shoulder and elbow-room were both improved too and headroom's also quite adequate, despite this generation model's small reduction in exterior roof height. As usual in this class, three adults would be a little squashed here but a trio of kids will be quite happy. Out back, there's more space for luggage than there was in the MK6 Golf GTI, the cargo bay 30-litres larger than before at 380-litres - that's 10% bigger than a Megane Renaultsport from this time and 20% bigger than a Focus ST from this period. It's easier to use too, with probably the lowest loading sill height in the class, a wide hatch aperture and a wide base on the dual-height luggage floor. There's a ski hatch too for longer items. Fold the 60/40 split rear seats down and you get useful 1270-litres - again one of the biggest spaces in the class from this era.
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Most Golf GTI MK7 owners we surveyed were very happy with their cars, but inevitably, there have been those who have had problems you'll want to look out for. One owner reported squeaky noises coming from the suspension over speed humps. Another noted that his steering wheel made a slightly wheezy noise when going round bends slowly. There were reports of the boot juddering when closing. And fuel caps that were difficult to open, making re-fuelling a struggle. One owner reported vibration from the door cards at the front and the rear. And another reckoned that his infotainment system was choosing not to function in very cold weather - and at times, was choosing to control itself. As for mechanical stuff, well we came across one owner who'd had a clutch go after just 4,600 miles - but that's very unusual. Another experienced faulty injectors. And another experienced a power failure related to his DSG auto gearbox. Also look out for smearing wipers, problems with the cabin air blowers and a rattle from the gearbox over speed humps. There have been a few reported issues with the DSG auto gearbox, so make sure the gearbox changes properly. Timing chains have been known to snap prematurely and cause major engine damage - yet another reason why a full service history is critical. GTI models can also suffer from quite high oil consumption, so it's important to keep an eye on the oil level, to avoid damage to the engine or timing chain.
[based on a 2017 model GTI 2.0 TSI ex VAT] An air filter will be priced in the £13 to £20 bracket, an oil filter will sit in the £5 to £15 bracket. A radiator will likely cost between £95 and £115. The front brake discs we came across commonly sat in the £50 to £70 bracket, with pricier-branded discs costing between £120 and £250. The rear brake discs we came across commonly sat in the £40 to £86 bracket, with pricier-branded discs costing up to around £115. Front brake pads are in the £27 to £65 bracket for a set but for pricier brands, you could pay up to nearly £75. Rear pads cost in the £20-£37 bracket. A thermostat is around £19. A water pump is around £53-£73,. A radiator is around £152-£158. Wiper blades cost around £9.
So. Just how quick does a Golf GTI really need to be? Performance-wise, this car certainly has to fit into a very tightly-defined slot. This MK7 model had to be faster than any of the conventional models in the range of course - and of course it needed to be able to duke it out with the rest of the hot hatch brigade. But it couldn't be so rapid that Volkswagen had nowhere to go with the even more focused 4WD Golf R that by 2012 had superseded the GTI as the Golf model line-up's flagship. Within these constraints, you think you know exactly what you're going to get with the GTI and yet... well, we'll get to that in a minute. It's certainly true that the engine stats are reasonably predictable. The original version of this car back in 2012 offered 220PS - or 230PS in 'Performance Pack' form. As part of the facelift changes in 2017, those stats were changed to 230PS and 245PS. Either way, you're looking at more than double the kind of power that was generated by the original MK1 Golf GTI we saw way back in 1976. You might think that still doesn't sound very much given that all this car's direct rivals from this period offer more - a Ford Focus ST from this era has 250PS, a Megane Renaultsport 265PS. But this Volkswagen's efficient MQB platform means that both these cars are heavier - the Ford 100kgs more portly, which is one reason why this Golf, even in 220PS form, can pretty much duplicate their performance, rest to sixty two mph occupying 6.5s en route to 152mph. Still not convinced? Then opt for the 'Performance Pack' version that as well as the power hike comes with bigger brakes and an electronically controlled locking front differential. Whichever version you go for, you'll appreciate the 2.0-litre TSI direct injection turbocharged engine that was further refined for this 7th generation model. OK, so it doesn't have too much aural personality, either on start-up or under hard acceleration, but you can readily forgive it that for the way it goes. Like all the best turbo installations, this one actually feels like a bigger normally-aspirated powerplant. There's no lag and lunge, just a smooth and flexible surge that swells at around 2,500rpm before gradually tailing off as you edge past 4,000rpm, confirming that wringing the thing out to the redline isn't the most effective way to drive this car. Besides that, mid-range punch is what you want for overtaking and merging into fast-moving traffic flows. So it's fast enough - but that you expected. What's more of a surprise is the ride and handling balance on offer here. We used to think Ford were the only brand with a real handle on making a sporting family corner tightly yet ride beautifully. By 2012 though, it was clear that Volkswagen had mastered the art too. Or perhaps you just better notice the dynamic step forward this Golf made in this form thanks to its standard Driver Profile Selection system, essentially the same as Audi's 'drive select' set-up. Here, the four available programmes you can select from the centre dash colour touchscreen - 'Eco', 'Sport', 'Normal' and 'Individual' - alter the throttle mapping and engine management to suit your chosen driving style - gearshift times too if you've opted for a DSG automatic model. Add the optional DCC Dynamic Chassis Control system, which enables you to tweak the suspension to suit the road and your mood, and there's a fifth 'Comfort' mode. We're not actually sure that the standard set-up really needs the extra cost assistance of the Dynamic Chassis Control electronics, so incredibly supple and well balanced is it but if you do choose a car whose original owner specified the DCC option and select the 'Comfort' mode, then you'll get yourself a Golf GTI that tackles urban roads with more composure than some luxury saloons we've come across. Which is nice because no matter how much of a driving enthusiast you are, it's tiresome to saddle yourself with a hot hatch that constantly, wearingly has to remind you of its red mist pretensions when you've had a long day, you just want to get home and the whole of the road network seems to be infested with infernal speed humps. If that's a common scenario for you, then you'll probably be one of those considering a version of this car fitted with the 6-speed DSG automatic gearbox. We'd think twice before doing that. OK, so this Golf is a more sensible and mature proposition than more track-orientated rivals from this era like Renaultsport's Megane or Vauxhall's Astra VXR but it's still a package that has the potential to thrill and excite, so damping it down with auto transmission - even one as good as Volkswagen's DSG system - doesn't do it any favours. True, you can set DSG into a Sport mode to hold gears longer and there are steering wheel-mounted paddles but it's still an auto 'box - and one with a slightly irritating tendency to climb straight into sixth gear in order to save fuel. In any case, the six-speed manual transmission is a joy to use, with a short clickety-click action that makes you want to flip up and down the 'box just for the fun of it. Another pleasant surprise is the 'Progressive' steering system, slick, fairly light, unerringly accurate and designed to reduce the amount of lock you have to put on through the corners without you noticing. True, the set-up could offer a touch more response and feedback. Along with the reduced size door mirrors, it's one of the few things we don't like about this car and the feel on offer at the helm certainly doesn't encourage you to switch off all the control systems, fling the car into a corner and see what happens. You have to learn where the limits of the front end are by gradual experimentation rather than through an intuitive connection through the wheel. But once you have, this can be an astonishingly rapid back road brawler. Focus yourself, select 'Sport' on the Driver Profile selection system and on a typical British B road and at typical British B road speeds, the Golf GTI feels ruthlessly good, the suspension artfully tuned so as not to continually upset the car or its traction control systems. Throw a Megane Renaultsport down a fast, twisting, bumpy country lane and you'd likely emerge at the other end a bit sweaty-palmed with your adrenal glands waving the white flag. The Golf might arrive a tenth or a second or two behind but it's driver would be serene, relaxed and with enough mental capacity in hand to enjoy a play on Radio 4. And therein lies the joy of this car.
When the Golf GTI was first launched in 1976, Volkswagen wondered whether it would struggle to sell an early production run of 5,000 vehicles. By 2012, two million sales later, the issue the issue the brand faced was not whether this car would sell, but who might buy it. After all, previous to 2012, this model had mainly sold to folk who, if they were honest, would probably admit to having out-grown the shopping rocket genre it originally created. In 7th generation form, this car needed to return a little to its roots - add an old fashioned dose of fun into the mature mix. It did. You might not know that from the figures. In all the dynamic measures that tend to matter to hot hatch drivers - 0-62mph acceleration, top speed, lap times, lateral grip, braking performance and so on - this Golf never really seriously bothers the class best. You might not be immediately arrested by the looks either, or the initial experience on the drive round the block. But persevere. Forty years of experience in creating a car of this kind has to count for something. It does. Importantly, Wolfsburg didn't here make the mistake of developing this GTI for the track rather than the road, so bumpy British tarmac doesn't bother it. You're always confident in pushing the performance envelope in a way that few rivals can match, yet that's possible without the sweaty palms that usually characterise red mist motoring. MK5 and MK6 Golf GTI models were also accomplished in this way, but with its extra power, lighter lithe responses and brilliantly sorted suspension, this MK7 version can not only be a confident performance car but a credibly exciting one too. So yes, it should sell to folk who want a proper hot hatch experience as well as a very mature one. The very first generation version set out to define a fundamental standard for performance that was more precise than any other compact car. So it is here. Long after the novelty of some rivals has worn off, this GTI will always feel a class act. Crucially though, in this form, it's also a very entertaining one.
Mr Simon Dabell - 11/12/2018, owner of a Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI BlueMotion Tech SE 2dr
User rating: 4/5
Mr Graham Earwood - 13/08/2018, owner of a Volkswagen Golf Gti S-A
User rating: 4.5/5
Mr Raymond Hurricks - 13/07/2018, owner of a Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI 125 Match Edition 5dr
User rating: 5/5
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