Volkswagen Golf R Facelift

Since the Volkswagen Golf’s introduction in 1974, it has undoubtedly been the benchmark in its segment. Now in its 7th generation, it’s better than ever and things are set to improve still with a mid-cycle update having been announced in November last year.

In my mind, the Golf is the Porsche 911 of its segment – with build quality to rival its VW Group counterpart and a breadth of capability few cars can match, does one really need more than a Golf? The answer is probably no. If you’re looking for frugal, there’s a diesel and small capacity turbo-petrols, and if you’re a sporty fellow, there’s the GTI. If none of that is enough and you feel like having more power than you’ll ever need, the Golf R has got you covered with its all-wheel drive traction and quad tailpipes. There really is a Golf for everyone.

Here at The Messenger Motoring, however, we love a good hot hatch (Chris is the only one without one) so what we’ve been chomping at the bit for is the updated Golf R.

First and foremost, the R sees a boost in power. It makes use of the same EA888 unit as before but where in the past our R’s and Audi S3’s had reduced power to cope with the hot-climate and feeble fuel, we have been given the go-ahead to have all the power. Offering almost identical outputs to the GTI Clubsport S, minus 20 N.m, 228 kW and 400 N.m allow the R to complete the 0-100 km/h dash in just 4.5 seconds… Now consider that the claimed 0-100 km/h time of the V8 M3 (E90) was 4.6 seconds and you start to realise that this a preposterously rapid Golf. Unlike the M3, though, it’ll catapult you just as briskly in the wet or the dry, come rain or shine. This is thanks to the crafty Swedes at Haldex who have been supplying VW AG with AWD systems since 1998.

A similar system to the one you’ll find in the Volvo S60 Polestar, the GenV AWD Coupling was developed especially for Volkswagen with versions of it seeing use in Audi, Seat, Skoda, Lamborghini and Bugatti products. What is so remarkable about this system is that it is significantly less complicated than both traditional 4×4 and intelligent AWD systems, yet just as effective. It makes use of an electro-hydraulic clutch actuator which rapidly distributes power between the front and rear axles as the integrated ECU sees fit. Essentially, as the system detects slip on either the front or rear axle, torque is then distributed accordingly to where there is grip in an accurate and Germanic fashion. This isn’t revolutionary in itself but just how compact the system is due to the fact that it requires neither a solenoid valve with filter nor a hydraulic accumulator is. Clever stuff!

Other changes are as with the rest of the Golf range – redesigned headlights and taillights (both full LED) traffic-jam assist (not yet confirmed for SA) and a vast array of passive and active safety systems. The interior also sees a few upgrades with Active Info Display now making its first appearance in the Golf.

Expect to see the first units on our shores in the third quarter of 2017.

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