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Cooley On Cars
On the road: 2015 Volkswagen Golf RBrian Cooley drives one of the most durable brands for compact, affordable cars and checks the tech.
[NOISE] This is a fun little box. It takes you back to the first [UNKNOWN] GTI I drove way back in the day. This is what it felt like. [MUSIC] The world is full of affordable cars with kind of gray and white personalities. And 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 th 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 call that shouts, look what my owner bought! And instead says rather confidently, look what I can do. [MUSIC] Now 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 smartphone. Luckily there's not much of it. It is touch-based and it's got some very crude pinch, zoom and swipe that is 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 that investment into things like much faster voice commands. Please state a country or a state first. California. Sometimes it even starts by asking me what country I want to drive to. You have no modern infotainment applications or anything like that. AM, FM, HD Satellite. You've got this pig-tailed device there, MDI, that they use, which is It's really horrible. You've gotta 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 on to 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. [MUSIC] Now, in here is a big part of where you're spending that extra 14 grand or so over a GTI. Two liter, turbo charged, direct injected four cylinder sitting side saddle. 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 feet of torque. vehicle weighs 3300 pounds, gets up to 60 in just under five seconds, but still delivering 23/30 mpg. So it wants those MPG to be done on the backs of premium gallon. Now behind that engine is one drive train right now. All wheel drive, and a sporting fashion with a howdex center differential. This is Audi quattro cousin stuff. Interestingly, you cannot get a manual gear box on the '15. You can only get a 6-speed dual quad fuel. DFG as VW calls them. In 2016, that'll be joined by a 6-speed manual option. It'll reduce the cost by a grand or so as well as bringing you some purity of purpose. [MUSIC] The first thing I noticed in our [UNKNOWN] is, let's face it, A two liter in line four with a turbo is always gonna feel like a two liter in line 4 with a turbo. You can get buried under a lack of boosts or two [UNKNOWN] pretty easily. So it's a car you gotta stay involved in but that doesnt bother me cause that's why you bought an [UNKNOWN]. You got a whole mess of power coming on here right when i need it, as long as i keep the [UNKNOWN] up [NOISE] And keep that turbo spooled. Now we have that DCC adaptive suspension. I haven't been on 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 it turns out what I'm hearing isn't necessarily just the engine. There's some thing 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 Many of the engines doesnt sound very good. About many of you [UNKNOWN] the fact we [UNKNOWN] a manual gear box in this vehicle but i can tell you, this is a super snappy, sharp and quick [UNKNOWN]. And 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 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 rowdy red friend. A Golf R starts 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 grand. Here's what I'm going to do though. I want purity in this, to really honor it's Gulf roots, but also enjoy its special hardware. I'm going to take out the adaptation, suspension and nav package. I'm also going to wait until 2016, and buy the next generation that has the six feet manual. That takes 11 hundred dollars off the price, and now I'm just over 36. This is not a Golf for everyone. In fact, you don't need my opinion to buy one, you've already made up your mind. But what this car really does show is that Volkswagen, as much as more than any other carmaker, knows how to extend the line without blurring. More cars driven CNet style standing by now at CNETOnCars.com Click on the road.