2015 Volkswagen Golf R: No handicap here (CNET On Cars, Episode 68)
Cooley On Cars
Volkswagen's latest Golf R, no handicap here.
Figuring out why your car is dead in the morning, and the most fuel-efficient high-tech V8.
It's time to check the tech.
They see cars differently.
We love them on the road, and under the hood, but also check the tech and are known for telling.
Telling it like it is.
Ugly is included at no extra cost.
The good, the bad, the bottom line.
This is CNET On Cars.
Welcome to CNET On Cars, the show all about high tech cars and modern driving.
I'm Brian Cooley.
Well, Volkswagen's Golf R is the king of the Golf line, which Is Proximo's doable brand of compact, affordable driver's cars.
I'm sort of understated.
Yet we've never driven one here on the show, so it's time to get to it.
Let's get out there on the road in the 2015 and check the tach.
This is a fun little box.
Takes me back to the first Golf GTI I drove way back in the day.
This is what it felt like.
The world is full of affordable cars with kind of gray and white personality.
The Golf has always been different.
No variant more saturated than this guy.
The Golf R. Now, it's not a car for everyone.
It's high in price and low in production volume, but it casts an important halo over the entire Volkswagen line with its road-going prowess.
Spotting one is surprisingly tricky.
You'll see some very small, subtle R badges Is around the side flanks and the rear, it's got some different functional air scoops around the sides of the chin, a little different set of wheels and body kit, but overall, it's not a car that shouts look what my owner bought.
It instead says, rather confidently, look what I can do.
Right off the bat, I've always liked these VW cabins and I still do, they're clean, they're kind of classic, the quality of materials in here remains really good.
As for this head unit, this is the best Argument for using a Smartphone.
Luckily there's not much of it.
It is touch based.
And it's got some very crude pinch, zoom and swipe and it's barely responsive.
They did waste time on things like proximity sensing, so ribbons of buttons come and go which doesn't really get me anywhere.
They should have put that effort and investment into things like much faster voice command.
Please state a country or a state first.
California, sometimes it even starts by asking me what country I wanna drive to.
You have no modern infotainment applications or anything like that.
AM, FM, HD, satellite.
You got this.
Pigtail device there, MDI that they use which is really horrible.
You've got to buy specialized cables and don't lose them.
The overall interface, display quality and clunkiness of the voice command system on here is dreadful.
That of course is not the point of buying a golf r so let's get onto our drive controls.
Here is your current one choice only gear shift which is your DSG shift lever.
You click through four drive modes, each one ups the aggression of the shifting and the power train.
That includes our adaptive suspension, which is optional on this car, our electric steering assist level, our engine power on rush.
Now in here is a big part of where you're spending that extra 14 grand or so over a GTI.
Two liter turbocharged direct injected four cylinder sitting side saddle.
Now that may sound like a story you've heard before, but this one's more uptight than the other ones.
We're getting some real power here.
292 horse, 280 pound vita torque.
Vehicle ways 3300 pounds, gets up to 60 in just under 5 seconds, but still delivering 23/30 MPG, though it wants those MPG to be done on the backs of premium gallons.
Now, behind that engine is one drivetrain right now, all wheel drive in a sporting fashion with a haldex center differential.
This is Audi Quattro cousin stuff.
And interestingly you can not get manual gear box on the 15, you can only get a 16 dual clutch or DSG as VW calls them.
In 2016, that'll be joined by a 16 manual option that'll reduce the cost by grand or so as well as bringing you some purity of purpose.
Now the first thing I noticed that in our goal car.
Now let's face it A two-liter inline four with a turbo is always gonna feel like a two-liter inline four with a turbo.
You can get buried under a lack of boost or too tall a gear pretty easily, so it's a car you gotta stay involved in, but that doesn't bother me, cause that's why you bought an R.
Got a whole mess of power coming on here right Right when I need it as long as I keep the revs up and keep that turbo spool.
Now we have that DCC adaptive suspension, I haven't done an AB against the dead steel version, but this car does not suffer from any under steer.
You point it and it kicks right in that way.
I love the sound this car makes, but turns out what I'm hearing isn't necessarily just the engine.
There's something up in the [UNKNOWN] at the base of the windshield, an electronic device called the Sound Actor, which resonates a synthetic growl up through the bottom of the glass apparently, a lot of folks get in there and unplug it.
I gotta say, it's kind of unseemly for one of the last great honest driving cars, so I'm sad they put it there, but Maybe the engine doesn't sound very good.
Now I know many of you rue the fact we don't yet have a manual gearbox in this vehicle.
But, I can tell you this is a super snappy, sharp, and quick DSG.
It's got pretty good around town manners, with the exception of getting caught flat footed sometimes in automatic mode.
However, I'd still like to have that third pedal just to really get in touch with the simple, but brawny, honesty of this car, just a little better.
And despite our 19s and our low profile tires, ride quality is really good.
You will have no problem in everyday driving with your R. Since the last Golf R. We've picked up 36 Horsepower and 3 MPG highway, plus some torque.
Let's price out our little [UNKNOWN] red friend.
Now, a Golf R start a little bit over $37,000 with destination And by the time you add the adaptive suspension and nav package, that's one line item like we have, you're at about $40,000.
Here's what I'm gonna do, though.
I want purity in this, to really honor its Golf roots, but also enjoy its Special hardware.
I'm gonna take out the adaptive suspension and nav package.
I'm also gonna wait until 2016 and buy the next generation that has a 6 speed manual.
That takes $1100 off the price, and now I'm just over $36,000.
This is not a Golf for everyone.
In fact, you don't need my opinion to tell you to buy one.
You've already made up your mind.
But what this car really does show is that Volkswagen, as much or more than any other car maker, knows how to extend the line without blurring it.
Find our full review on the '15 Golf R over at cars.cnet.com.
Well the conventional wisdom would have you thinking everybody's running around texting and driving these days.
Turns out the truth is a little more nuanced than that in both good and not so good ways.
When we can back, we'll find out what the smarter and not so smart driver is doing with handheld electronics behind the wheel.
Dealing with mobile devices in the car has been approached three major ways.
First of all, you've got the family of bluetooth hands free, either brought in or built into the car, and headset technology.
Secondly, you've got ever increasing voice recognition, both in the car and on the mobile device itself to try and get your hands and eyes off of it.
And thirdly, you've got laws and public awareness campaigns that use both Stick and carrot, to try and get you to do the right thing or at least do it in a safer way.
17 states currently ban any hand held use of a mobile device while driving.
48 ban texting specifically.
With only Montana and Arizona holding out.
How is it all working?
Well the latest U.S. Department of Transportation research Indicates two things.
The numbers aren't as high as you might think, and those numbers aren't changing much, either.
In 2013, the latest data available, researchers observed over 37,000 cars stopped for at least ten seconds in traffic or at a light at almost 1,400 locations around the country.
Driver's holding a phone to their ear has been observed to decline modestly.
From 5.2% in 2012 to 4.6% observed in 2013.
That's still about 620,000 cars at any given time during the day being driven by someone who has half their hands and at least half their mind on a call.
The other interesting trendline is visible manipulation of a hand-held device.
Then that rules out texting, email, entering a GPS destination, skimming Facebook, what have you.
It's gone from 0.4%, before the iPhone was introduced, to 1.7% today, or about 230,000 cars on US roads at any given time of day.
It pays to double check your state's laws on handheld calling, texting while driving, And handheld use at all.
And follow them.
There are so many technologies that make it easy to do now, it's just the right thing.
And remember that even a small percent of drivers doing those things adds up to the better part of a million accidents waiting to happen.
Welcome back to CNET on cars.
Coming to you from our home in the [UNKNOWN] Motor Club just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Well I can hardly think of anything more frustrating Than a battery in your car that's dead every morning, and the frustrating part is what causing it?
This so-called Parasitic Loss or Phantom Draw is frustrating to track down because unless it's caused by something visible, like a light bulb, how do you spot it?
But I can show you some simple tips to track it down very quickly that you're likely gonna need at some point with today's heavily electrical and electronic cars.
Now the first thing you want to do before you start this process is This is to make sure you've got a good battery state, good charge.
And since the car's been crapping out, I bet you've already invested in a battery charger.
So hook it up overnight, let it charge up the battery before we get started.
And you should see good numbers on the display.
Next make sure the car's not actually drawing any power.
Obviously it's gotta be switched off.
The key is out, doors are closed, and no lights are on.
And some of those take a moment because of internal timers.
Now set up your meter.
For a test like this, I want you to put the black cable that came with it into the port called Common.
And the red test lead goes in the one that'll typically say 10 amps, 10A, or 10A DC like this one.
That's the kind of test we're gonna be doing.
Then, turn your meter on and go to the 10 amp DC position on its dial.
Now it's time to attach your meter.
If you got a charger connected to the battery, now you wanna pull it off.
Now you wanna put your positive terminal back on.
Make sure the car has that on And tighten so positive is back on.
Negative stays off.
Then your meter is put in line between the cable for negative and the terminal for negative.
Now most clips are only big enough to go around your cable.
Getting around that terminal on the battery's asking a lot, so just hold your connector there.
And take a look at the reading on the meter.
What you wanna see is a number that is in the milliamps, a very low number, 30, 40, maybe 50 at most.
The battery's not gonna die very soon with that little bit of trickle.
But when I see what I've got here, nearly two and a half amps.
That's a dramatically bigger draw, and that's gonna kill my battery overnight.
Now that I feel I've got a draw, I need to go into the car to look for it but still see the meter operating.
So get some kind of a clamp, like one of these, and make sure you've got both of your leads from your meter connected to the battery so you can be hands free.
This is important.
When you've got your meter hooked up like this, do not start on the car, turn on the headlights Do anything like that, leave the car dead or you're gonna fry that meter and who knows what else.
Put this meter in the windshield where you can see it, then let's go around the driver's door.
Okay, now with our meter set up where I can see it in the windshield, I can go down to the fusebox.
And by the way, some cars have several scattered around the vehicle, check the owner's manual.
Luckily, here in the box here we just have one to deal with.
Now it's just a very simple process.
Just start pulling each fuse one at at a time, look at the meter, see if it drops your draw down where it should be, and if not, put the fuse back in.
Go on to the next one.
It's tedious, but it's easy, and it costs you nothing.
Okay, I've been pulling fuses for a few minutes here and getting no results, and then all of a sudden, I found one that did.
Look at that nice, low current reading.
That's c3 on this car, so I grabbed the little fuse map and see what it says, and it tells me that's basically interior locking and lights.
So I've discovered the system that is doing the draw.
So from here, it's going to be up to you whether you wanna have it fixed or whether you think you can look around and find out what the The problem is, if you do want to try and go further in diagnosis, there are four major areas to look at.
Is there a motor that's running when it shouldn't.
Is there a light staying on when it shouldn't.
Is there a switch that's causing one of those to stay on when it shouldn't.
Or is there a wire going.
Going to one of those that I've discovered that's frayed or damaged, that's arcing out against some piece of metal in car.
Now whether you're going to fix the problem you've identified, or take it to a shop and get it down, you've really accomplished two things just now with almost no effort and no cost.
You've got peace of mind about what the problem really is, and secondly, you've just found an easy way to buy yourself some time.
If you can live without the system that this fuse used to power up, You can leave it out, and now your car's not gonna discharge until you get the time and/or money to get it fixed.
In a moment, exploding sunroofs, and V8 engine cars that won't embarrass you at the pump.
When CNET On Cars returns.
Driver Assists seem to be coming into the world to take away from us the pleasure of driving.
And for that we will never forgive them.
But sometimes they can be a little bit useful.
For example in slow traffic up to about 37 miles an hour.
This car can read the traffic signs, it can read the road markings And how fast and how far the car in front of you is up to 37 miles an hour, and if you live in London like I do, that is the top speed you achieve most of the time.
Effectively meaning it can drive you to and from work.
Five more on the Xcar team of CNet UK at cnet.com/xcar Welcome back to Cnet on cars.
I'm Brian Cooley, here's that part of the show where I take one of your emails and this time it comes in from Alex M who says I've been recently hearing from friends about exploding suroofs and panoramic glass roofs, seems like no one really knows the exact reason.
Was wondering if you guys have some idea.
I have a sun roof in my car.
I want to know what I can do to Minimize, if not eliminate, having this problem.
Yeah, I bet!
Well Alex, we've checked into this a bit for you.
And it seems to affect, in fairly small numbers, some VW, Audi, Hyundai, and Kias by my research.
And it's not common even within those production runs.
Now, what's happening here, by the best guesses in the auto glass biz, is that we've gone to very thin glass on those overhead panels, really all around the car, to save weight.
And also, better and better door seals, to be honest, so when you're closing the door on one of these cars that has thinner glass, you're getting a pressure wave inside the vehicle and apparently Under certain conditions, that are not fully understood, it may cause that roof to shatter or get weak enough to shatter later.
Now the good news about auto glass in general, is that it's either tempered, laminated, or both.
Your windshield, for example, is both.
That means it's laminated with a thin sheet of plastic in between two sheets of glass.
If it breaks, it tends to hold together as one piece and not even fall down on you, unless it's a massive collision.
Other glass around the sides and over your head like you're concerned about, are tempered.
And that means that when they do shatter, they'll create these sharp, knifelike shards you see in the movies.
They make a bunch of little small pebbles of glass that are much less likely to injure you.
Though it's gonna freak you out if this thing goes bang while you're driving down the road, or even if you get in the car and close the door.
If you wanna find out if your car's affected by this, head over to the [UNKNOWN] website where you can look up, by VIN number, exactly what recalls apply to your car, not just your run of cars, but your exact model.
It's the best way to get some peace of mind.
I wouldn't lose too much sleep over it, but it is happening out there.
Well, throughout the year, we like to bring you a list of the most efficient four cylinders, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and most efficient electric vehicles, for that matter, all going that green direction.
But this time, we're gonna cut the other direction, into a direction that technology has made possible, top five fuel efficient V8's.
Now, we looked at MPG, sheer horsepower, and the car's power to weight ratio.
The list we came up with is all German, by the way, except for one American at the top, kicking all their Teutonic ****.
Number 5, the 2015 BMW 550i, a 4.4 liter V8 that delivers 20 MPG average.
It just pushed out the X1 Mercedes E550 coupe, by the way, to begin the list.
This beamer has 445 horsepower and a power to weight ratio just below that magic number of ten pounds per horse.
And a great handling car that just happens to be a very practical sedan.
There's a lot to like here for about $65,000, second cheapest on our list.
Number 4, the 2015 Audi S8.
4.0 liter V8, 20 MPG average.
The sporting version of the big Audi has a V8 that you'll know.
When you step on it, it cranks out the most horsepower on our list, 520.
Now, the average MPG of 20 is at the bottom of our list Well it's MSRP of 115 grand is at the top of our list and number four.
Number three, the 2015 Audi A8, same basic engine, but now 22 MPG average.
What a difference a single letter makes.
Going from F to A makes this the only car on our list to break 30 highway and still have that 22 average.
So we keep it at number three because this is a big boy And this smallish V8 means the power to weight ratio that was our worst at 10.3.
Number two, the 2015 Mercedes SLK55 AMG, a biggish 5.5 liter V8 but still 22 mpg average.
Who knew you bought an AMG to be fuel efficient?
This is the baby brother of the big SF, and it's got the power to weight ratio to show for it.
A lean 8.6 pounds per horse.
That makes it okay for it to be the lowest power car on our list at 415.
Well time for best average MPG [UNKNOWN] Number one you'll be glad to hear is the 2015 Chevy Corvette 6.2 liter V8 but still 21 MPG average.
The new C7 'Vette is amazing, having the biggest engine on the list, doing 455 horse, and has the best power to weight ratio as well.
MPG is 17 29, close enough to say, I get about 30.
Largely thanks to cylinder deactivation that make it a 3.1 litre 4 when you don't need everything.
Add to that the lowest price on our list, about 55k.
If you've got a sanctimonious Prius driving cousin, this is the V8 to drive to Thanksgiving.
Thanks for watching.
Hope you enjoyed this episode.
Keep those emails coming at OnCars@cnet.com.
We get a lot of show ideas from them.
I read everyone, reply to as many as I can.
And don't forget, if you haven't already looked for us on favorite streaming platform or destination, check it out, we're probably already there.
I'll see you next time we check the deck.
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