First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Golf R

Volkswagen is pretty much cooking up a Golf for everyone on the planet. You have the standard Golf, the diesel TDI, and an all-electric eGolf. Enthusiasts around the globe love the GTI. There’s also a wagon version coming soon called the Golf SportWagen.
This, however, is the one for… us. This is the Volkswagen Golf R, and it’s a turbocharged, all-wheel-drive hot hatch designed to make you a happier person. For just under $40k, you can pilot a nearly 300-horsepower five-door that also happens to have one of the (if not THE) best interior in its class.
Oh and Hans Stuck helped make sure the handling doesn’t suck.
Win-win? You best believe it…
[Disclaimer: Volkswagen invited me down to San Diego and put me up in a hotel for the evening. I took a train down to the location so I could drive a Golf R back and spend even more time with the car. Nice ride down… better ride back.]

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  1. roguetoaster Avatar

    Arrrrrrrrrrrrr, about time VW let you actually turn TCS off! My 2005 GTI always loved to try and pull you off the road and shut down every hard launch, glad they fixed it!
    Still, why does it remind me of an old SEAT Ibiza, just the tail lights? Further, why does the standard GTI not have this level of power with the R coming around 350 horsepower? Maybe the route to go for the next super hot Golf should be diesel.

    1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      Diesel?!? Wash your mouth out with soap and water, young man!

      1. roguetoaster Avatar

        But (soap bubble), (bubble) what if (bubble) the ne(bubble)xt Gol(bubble, hiccup)f is a mild hybrid? (bubble, rinse)

      2. JayP Avatar

        Really- the GTI Diesel would be a GTD.
        It’ll have some weight since Audi’s diesels are winning LeMans every friggin’ year.

        1. roguetoaster Avatar

          I know the GTD is around, and maybe even here as I heard rumors of its existance. But it really would be an interesting way to go with the halo model of the best seller to have diesel power. Maybe it’s more of an Audi thing.

          1. JayP Avatar

            VW hasn’t really pushed the diesel performance like Audi. I’d expect to see a diesel RS3 before a real GTI oil burner.

          2. Eric Rucker Avatar

            It’s not going to happen in the US for emissions/suspension/spare tire reasons.
            Essentially, a diesel in the US, to get reasonable economy, needs a urea aftertreatment system. So, VW added one to the Mk7 Golf TDI. However, the only place they had for the urea tank interfered with the independent rear suspension, so they had to use the low-end torsion beam (and, in fact, the TDI is the only Mk7 Golf in the US with the torsion beam, usually that’s just for 1.2T and 1.6 TDI cars in Europe).
            Now, VW’s not going to sell a GTD with the torsion beam. They’ve said that the solution for Europe, once urea is needed there, will be to remove the spare tire and put the urea tank there, but the US market won’t accept that. Upshot, we don’t get a GTD.
            We actually could get a GLD or a SportWagen GTD, mind you, as there’s room in both the Jetta and the wagon for the urea tank without interfering with the suspension (although I’m not sure if the wagon actually gets the IRS), but I really don’t see VW doing that, either.

          3. roguetoaster Avatar

            Great info there! Several points I wasn’t aware of.
            I have a few thoughts on what VW could do to actually fix the dilemma: design a different urea tank, or even two tanks to fit in the available space; make the torsion beam setup better, if it was fun in the Mk1/2 GTIs then it can be fun again; plenty of other cars come with no spare tire (and in many cases, no place for one) as standard these days, from BMW to Volvo to M-B, to Audi, if customers there can accept that so can VW folks.
            A GTD Sportwagon would be great, and it would be a mostly parts bin exercise, so I really can’t see why they don’t just try it, studies/focus groups aside.
            Frankly, these sound like the same tired reasons manufacturers have been feeding folks in the US for ages. I am certainly tired of manufacturers simply giving in to the easy way, ignoring innovation, and denying certain cars to certain markets almost arbitrarily. Engineer, lobby, and fix it, heaven knows they have the money to do so.

          4. Eric Rucker Avatar

            Another thing they could do is shrink the fuel tank to make room, but they already DID that in the Mk7s as it is, and the urea tank’s about 5 gallons. That’d give about a 9 gallon diesel tank, which would actually provide decent range still (especially with the real world numbers people are getting out of the Mk7 TDIs – the urea system uses urea at about the same rate as the old Mk5/6 NOx trap used fuel, IIRC), but less than VW would want most likely.

          5. roguetoaster Avatar

            VW should really just put the tank in the spare well, perhaps they can even make a tank that will fit the inner diameter of the spare wheel. This might necessitate more frequent urea refills, but would undoubtedly be the best solution if it complies with current regulations.
            Reducing the size of the main fuel tank would probably deter many buyers as the majority of TDI owners I know love to brag about the maximum they have squeezed out of a tank.
            This is by far the most interesting conversation I have had about VWs since I jumped ship to BMW years ago.

          6. Eric Rucker Avatar

            The main thing that concerns me about a tank that fits inside of the spare tire (which, by the way, isn’t compatible with the Fender subwoofer, which also fits inside of the spare tire) is that you then have to deal with hose routing for filling the tank (but in a way that’s able to be taken out of the spare tire easily to get at the spare), or just filling it directly.
            Ask Passat TDI owners how much filling a tank that’s in the trunk sucks. (Urea spills get EVERYWHERE in the interior, and quickly.) The Golf has a second filler neck next to the diesel one for urea, outside of the car.

          7. roguetoaster Avatar

            Hmm, well the subwoofer would be easy enough to option out, but routing the filler could be a challenge without resorting to a smaller tank (like an expansion tank) with a pump.
            Option one in my mind, have the tank raise the spare slightly as if it were on a platform, and route the hose to the base of the tank, either internally or externally to the cabin. This would probably eliminate a full sized spare, and might also limit the size of the running wheels that can be fitted considering the spare tires dimensional restrictions. An option here might be to raise the load floor with a different cargo cover/organizer similar to the V60 setup.
            Option two, tank in spare well similar to above, with a removable cap flush with the load floor (to keep debris out of the filler neck) and a funnel with one way valve/check system with a bag to minimize the urea odor. Of course this would mean filling from the trunk, so it’s troublesome and inconvenient.

        2. crank_case Avatar

          Diesels peaked in Europe, it’s not a massive backlash, just a slow swing to turbo petrol, so I doubt the GTI will be diesel. The Audi RS5 prototype looks awesome though. It’s kinda funny how the combo of diesel + electricity can cancel out each others suckyness.

      3. Jeff Glucker Avatar
        Jeff Glucker

        The GTD is pretty awesome though…

  2. Greg Kachadurian Avatar
    Greg Kachadurian

    That Yaris was not amused by your filming.

  3. JayP Avatar

    Golf R vs Focus RS
    Hans Stuck vs Ken Block
    Yeah. Hans wins hands down.