Long-Term

Four Seasons 2016 Volkswagen Golf R Arrival

No Joke: We spend a year with a $38k Golf

Long-Term 2016 Volkswagen Golf Update: Fall 2016 ( 1 of 4 ) Miles to date: 4,700

We’re not certain how long it took for the first “You paid $30k for a Golf?” crack to make the rounds after the 2004 Volkswagen Golf R32 debuted here in America, but it couldn’t have been long. Now, more than a decade and three-generations later, we’re hearing it again, only insert “$40,000” where 30 used to be for its direct descendant, the Golf R, which is now bumping up on that number in top-spec trim.

Interestingly though, when adjusted for inflation the $37,570 sticker of the 2016 Volkswagen Golf R, in our fleet for a Four Seasons evaluation, is roughly the same as the first R32’s. And that’s with the Golf R’s additional safety features, a slight weight reduction, and a substantially improved performance envelope. Make wisecracks all you want, but Volkswagen’s engineers have improved the Golf lineup relentlessly over successive generations, and to us the Mk7 Golf R is one of the best hot hatches ever.

We appreciated the Golf R enough to select it as a 2016 AUTOMOBILE All-Star and subsequently asked VW if we could bring one in for an extended play date. It obliged and provided us with a lightly-used, DSG-equipped example sprayed in Limestone Gray Metallic with 4,700 miles on the clock. While some of us would have preferred the manual (which also shaves $1,100 off the sticker), the DSG car is more than a half-second quicker to 60 mph.

2016 Volkswagen Golf R rear three quarter

Volkswagen doesn’t give the Golf R much of an option list short of a few minor accessories, none of which are included on this car. (If you want navigation and the Fender audio system you have to step up to the model with 19-inch wheels and VW’s DCC chassis-control setup.) But it features a decent amount of standard equipment, including an eight-speaker sound system with a 6.5-inch touchscreen media player, Bluetooth, and a leather interior.

Other than its quad-tip exhaust, 18-inch alloys, and LED daytime running lights, there is little to indicate from the outside that this car is anything more than a pedestrian-looking gray Golf, and that’s the way most of us like it—sleeper style. As road test editor Eric Weiner put it at All-Stars, “Only gearheads will know you’re not driving a plain-Jane Golf. A dirty little secret that never has to apologize for itself. My kind of car.”

During its stay, we plan on getting answers to burning questions like whether the Golf R’s all-wheel drive, sportier suspension, and significantly more power and torque make it worth the premium over a GTI. Likewise, we will attempt to settle the DSG vs. manual debate, decide if a similar car like the Focus RS is better, or if there’s any point to leaving drive select in normal (not really). Oh, and we’re also planning to have plenty of fun, because duking it out with pony cars from behind the wheel of a compact, practical hatchback puts a smile on your face, and isn’t that the whole point of getting a $38k Golf in the first place?

Overview

  • Body style 4-door hatchback
  • Accommodation 5-passenger
  • Construction Steel unibody
  • Base price $37,570
  • As tested $37,570

Powertrain

  • Engine 16-valve DOHC turbocharged I-4
  • Displacement 2.0 liters (91 cu in)
  • Power 292 hp @ 5400 rpm
  • Torque 280 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed dual-clutch automatic
  • Drive All-wheel
  • EPA Fuel Economy 23/30/25 (city/hwy/combined)

Chassis

  • Steering electrically assisted
  • Lock-to-lock 2.1 turns
  • Turning circle 35.8 ft
  • Suspension, front Strut-type, coil springs
  • Suspension, rear Multilink, coil springs
  • Brakes F/R Vented discs
  • Wheels 18-inch aluminum
  • Tires Bridgestone Potenza REo50A
  • Tire size 225/40R-18

Measurements

  • Headroom F/R 38.4/38.1 in
  • Legroom F/R 41.2/35.6 in
  • Shoulder room F/R 55.9/53.9 in
  • Wheelbase 103.6 in
  • Track F/R 60.6/59.7 in
  • L x W x H 168 x 70.5 x 56.8 in
  • Passenger capacity 93.5 cu ft
  • Cargo capacity (rear seats up/down) 22.8/52.7 cu ft
  • Weight 3340 lb
  • Weight dist. F/R 60.7/39.3%
  • Fuel capacity 13.2 gal
  • Est. fuel range 330 miles
  • Fuel grade 91 octane (premium unleaded)

Equipment

  • Standard Equipment

    • Four-wheel independent sport suspension
    • Front and rear vented disc brakes
    • 18-inch alloy wheels
    • LED daytime running lights & LED front turn signals
    • Tilt-and-telescopic, multi-function sport steering wheel
    • Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob
    • Split folding rear seats
    • Leather seats
    • Alloy pedals
    • Rearview camera
    • 6.5-inch touchscreen display
    • USB/iPod interface
    • Bluetooth
    • 8-speaker audio system
    • Satellite radio connectivity
    • Cruise control
    • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
    • Keyless access with pushbutton start

Options

  • options for this vehicle:

    • Limestone gray metallic exterior – $0
    • Titan black leather interior – $0
    • 6-speed DSG automatic transmission – $0

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