by Jared Rosenholtz
But is it the most exciting hot hatch on the market?
On a recent visit to Los Angeles, we wanted a car that was fun to drive on some of the city’s awesome canyon roads. We wanted to get a car with a manual transmission, but in the world of press cars this isn’t always an option. When we picked the Volkswagen Golf R, we quickly learned that we had lucked out in getting what might be the best car for tooling around LA. Our car came equipped with the six-speed DSG transmission, which is actually the one that we would buy. Sorry manual lovers!
We really wanted to get the whole manual versus DSG debate out of the way quickly by explaining why the DSG is better in this instance. Despite our love of the manual box, the Golf R is simply better suited for the DSG. We immediately found out why LA traffic is so universally despised when our 40 minute trip home from the airport took over two hours. Luckily, we had the Golf R and its adaptive cruise control system to conquer the congestion. We’ve used systems like this in the past and the Volkswagen system is highly advanced. After setting a set distance from the car in front, the driver can basically keep their feet off the pedals. The gas pedal only needs to be tapped after a full stop.
The adaptive cruise control isn’t available with the six-speed manual transmission (for obvious reasons). The DSG does add $1,100 to the car’s MSRP, but is definitely worth it. In addition to the adaptive cruise control, the DSG also comes with a sport mode that makes the car more aggressive. For 2017, Volkswagen has simplified the Golf R lineup and there is now only one trim level that is basically fully loaded. Some odd exclusions from the options list include a two-door version, which is available in other markets, and a sunroof. With these options aside, the only decision on the Golf R is which one of the five colors looks best, and whether to get the DSG transmission.
On the inside, the Golf R doesn’t really stand out over the GTI, but it is still a very nice place to be. Almost all of the surfaces are soft-touch materials that can put some of the entry-level German luxury cars to shame. The flat-bottom steering wheel is great for sporty driving, although it did take us some time to get fully acquainted with the hoard of buttons that control the radio, cruise control, Bluetooth and the center screen menus. Speaking of that center screen in the gauge cluster, it was filled with good information, but we look forward to the 2018 model year when Volkswagen will update the Golf R with the virtual cockpit technology from the Audi TT.