Car Tech Video
2012 VW Golf RAfter years of neglect, VW finally brought the Golf R back to U.S. shores, but was it worth the wait. CNET's Brian Cooley takes a ride in the 2012 VW Golf R.
-After years of caterwauling by VW enthusiasts, Volkswagen finally brought the hottest golf to the US, the Golf R. This guy demotes the GTI to vice president in this country, but is it the right choice when you're gonna go CNET style. Let's drive this 2012 Golf R and check the tech. Now, if you wanna spot a Golf R aside from a little tiny badges that live around the body, look at the butt, you've got center mounted dual exhaust outlet that give away, also look for lower stents on the car, mild body hit. Under the skin, there's more power out of the engine, 6-speed only, sports suspension, all-wheel drive. Okay, our Golf R is missing option package, the navigation and sun roof thing, you know, real logical combination. Umm, no, no. but without that, we still have a touch screen media head unit, and you got all the sources you need and one or 2 that you don't. AM and FM both have HD capability as well, your satellite radio functionality. Good readout here. You get readout to the various stations information and such. Under your media tab, you got the 4 main acts here. CD is a 6-disc [unk] changer right up here at the top, very nice. SD car, yeah, that's one of those I mentioned that you don't need. Media input refers to thing, the MDI connector, which is an Audi Volkswagen thing. Now, the one I've got in this car as you can see still has the traditional 30-pin IOS connector or an iPhone or an iPad Touch. I've had to adapt it to this iPhone 5 right here and as you can see it works fine. We're seeing no issues with logic, control or screen readout. Now, because you're using this MDI connector and not a USB jack like a lot of other cars do, You're gonna have to buy different pig tails here for let say a USB female jack if you wanna plug in a thumb drive or any other device. This is a relatively old school backwards idea right now. I talked to Volkswagen this morning and so far nothing on the horizon to bring a lightning cable to this port, so you are gonna have to use this adaptor. This whole mess in the console is not very friendly. Here with this iPhone on a cable, I've got nowhere to put it, though it is kind of to hang there. Not real elegant to be honest, and of course finally that Bluetooth streaming audio, which looks good, nice use of meta tags, the logic and the response is kind of poky, but that's at least with my Android 4.0.4 phone. You may have different results. If you get, the nav package, you're also gonna get a better audio system. We have this interface here for the base, treble, and fader and such, but the Dynaudio 300-Watt 8 speaker reg comes with the navigation upgrade as well. And at this moment, let me get up on my soap box, not so much speaking on VW as almost every car maker. Why do you put these kind of settings on a touchscreen? Navs do it better. They are cheap and they are proven. Yes, you're gonna put some additional parts in I guess, but dealing with digging through menus and also these poke, poke nonsense for base and treble are dragging this around. That's not better than not. That's worst. This is screening interface for screen interfaces sake. Now, an R is basically a GTI on steroids under the hood, same basic iron block aluminum head 2-liter inter-cooled turbo engine, but with more ump, bigger turbo hotter tuning, 256 horse, 243 foot-pounds of torque. It's this 3300-pound car 60 in about 5.6 seconds and it also delivers 19/27 MPG, not bad. Those numbers are 56 higher on the horsepower for this car and 36 higher on the torque, substantial increase. Now, all R's are all-wheel drive. GTIs are not. All R's come with a 6-speed manual and that's it. GTIs can also get a DSG automated dual clutch. What I like about the Golf R, this is kind of meatiness. There is nothing fussy about this car, same can be said with the GTI. That's a German DNA thing and it's certainly not lost in this variant. The turbo charging in this car, bigger turbo, it's doing more a boost job, but it's not ending up leggier. Put it this way, it's not ending up being leggier than I'd like. I don't have a GTI here to compare it too, but this car has got power delivery, not frantic, but substantial. Now, since you only have a 6 speed manual to play with it, better be a good one. This one is the clutch and gearbox actions are pretty darn good. I'm not real crazy about the sort of popping in and out of each gear. I would like to smooth their engagement, but that may wear in with time. Another nice thing about this car is the power is not too much. In other words, you can drive it flat out when you really have fun with it and you're not gonna get exited off the orbit of the earth. It's substantial power but not goofy power. Ride quality in this car is actually quite nice, firm, well planted. You definitely feel a nice leveling support suspension, but without the nagging road inputs that I had recently and let's say the Nissan Altima, which also had its own variant about firm suspension, but it was just constantly kneeling you to the bottom of the car. The bottom line, I don't know if this car is anymore fun than a GTI. You got to be pushing it pretty hard to get that all-wheel drive system, which in this car is built for performance, not for off road traction so much to really get the benefit of that. It's really kind of a track car, which I don't know if you're gonna use in the respect so much. Okay, let's price this bad boy. We have a 2012/2013 prices of what I'm telling you just under 34 base for the 2-door. They have also got a 4-door, kind of doesn't make sense to me in an R, but to your money. The best deal out there, though it's kind of a weird package is 1500 bucks for navigation, the power glass roof, keyless access, and the Dynaudio audio upgrade. It's a great price, though I'm not a huge fan of the head unit in general, but at that price, I can become one. The other option you got on here are all pretty much non-tech. This car is about 36, CNET style.