The big R returns with a grunt.
The dual climate control was heavenly as it was really cold on the mountain, but I didn’t feel like rolling up the windows. So pointing the warm air at my feet and heating the seats up while cold air was blowing around me felt really nice.
The tech inside is pretty similar to the GTI, in that the full options version comes with the RNS 510 navigation system. It can play WMA and MP3 files off a CD, DVD or through any iOS device and through the auxiliary jack. And then there’s the SD card slot right under the screen if you want to have songs played through that. Of course, this top-of-the-line system comes with 30GB hard drive and a fully tuned Dynaudio 300 watts 8 speakers system.
As with the GTI, syncing my iPhone 4 was a 30 second process with the internal Bluetooth system link. Calls sounded perfectly, and the person on the other line never had any problems listening to me. Another thing carrying over from the GTI is the ParkPilot system which basically uses all the sensors to create a sonar image to detect how close objects are while parking the car. A camera is also present when reverse-parking.
I was impressed with the fuel economy too, as after having the car for 3 days, with highway drives and city driving, including a very punishing session on Jebel Hafeet, I had used up 514 kilometers since I got the car and was left with 1/8th of the tank. The last 1/8th is basically fuel reserve which meant the car could only go on for another 40 kilometers, if you don’t push it.
The Golf R is in a very competitive car in its price range, the performance numbers alone are worth the price tag, especially when you consider the 4-wheel drive system. Bottom line: you may find a more luxurious car for this much money, but nothing as much fun and feature packed as the Golf R. It looks lean and sounds mean, what with all the black highlights on the trim, big wheels and that loud exhaust system. It can be very humble on the roads, making it a perfect daily driver, but you know that going buck wild is only one gearshift away. So with all the tech and power crammed into such a nimble 4-door hatch, the Golf R is both a very competent family car, and a true driver’s car.