Tested: 2016 VW Golf R Variant

2016 VW Golf R Variant | Shaun Keenan for Ignition
2016 VW Golf R Variant | Shaun Keenan for Ignition

Golf R: Check Box for Wagon

I test drove a handful of new Golfs during a recent trip to Germany. This 2015 VW Golf R Sportwagen is one of them. My travel cohorts and I each got seat time on and off the autobahns, as well as some interesting secondary roads in between Munich airport and the small, lakeside town of Velden am Wörthersee. We were there to attend the 34th annual GTI Festival, which itself is a great reason to make the trek across the pond, but getting to drive the Mk7 Golf R on its home roads makes it even more special.

While this particular wagon variant of the Golf R has yet to be green-lit for Canada, the U.S. will be getting it along with its smaller sibling – the regular Golf R hatchback. We’ll get that too, but to be clear, calling the R regular is heresy to say the least. It is the most powerful production-spec Golf ever made.

The “R” is what you get when you take the high-performance GTI and soup it up with more power via a bigger turbo and more grip vis a vis VW’s 4Motion (Haldex) all-wheel drive system. Developing 292 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, the two-litre EA888 Gen. 3 TFSI inline-four is feisty. Paired with the twin-clutch automatic DSG, the test car farts out its quad tailpipes – I mean it literally sounds like it’s breaking wind as you move through the gears under power during passing maneuvers, or when merging onto the highway – to show it is a bit naughty by nature.

2016 VW Golf R Variant | Shaun Keenan for Ignition
2016 VW Golf R Variant | Shaun Keenan for Ignition

Having not driven the regular Golf R, it’s impossible for me to compare the performance of the non-wagon versus wagon. That said, the latter leaves nothing on the table, and would impress the most enthusiastic of Golf fanatics – the ones this car is clearly meant for. It handles like it’s on rails thanks to its uprated strut-type front and multi-link rear suspensions, and there is nary any body roll to complain about.

There are three driving modes – normal, eco and race – with the latter capable of putting you back in the sporty R seats en route from 0-100 km/h in the five-second range. The tester wore Alcantara trimmed cloth, though leather is standard on North American Golf Rs. If and when the Golf R Sportwagen comes to Canada, it will be interesting to see if a manual transmission will be offered in it like other Rs.

Continue reading my review of the 2016 VW Golf R Variant on the IGNITION MAGAZINE website!