Law enforcement aside, nothing stops a car party like an unplanned impact with a foreign object. For our Four Seasons 2016 Volkswagen Golf R that honor went to a chunk of retread that had come off a semi truck’s tire, which the driver was unable to evade. Not only did the front bumper get taken out, the techs at Galpin Volkswagen found that the intercooler, radiator, condenser, and underbody panels were also in need of replacement.
Total damage? $5,648.78 and a month off the road (fortunately, we only had to cover the $500 deductible). If this were a house party, it’d be equivalent to someone falling down the stairs and taking out a wall along with some furniture. We’d have been better off if the cops had showed up and made everyone go home early.
A few weeks later, we noticed that the original Bridgestone Potenza tires were worn out, leaving the Golf R in need of new shoes. We ordered a new set from Tire Rack, but before the four new RE050s ever came in, costing $151.45 each, we had to drop $20 on a patch job when the right rear picked up a nail. The new shoes came in a couple of weeks later. Out of convenience we had them put on at the local Volkswagen dealer, which we’d visited a couple days after the nail incident for the Golf R’s second service. The regularly scheduled service set us back $125, while the tire mounting ran a considerable $80.
Despite the misadventures, our enthusiasm for the 292-hp German hot hatch has not waned — although associate editor Jonathon Klein did lodge a gripe over the absence of Dynamic Chassis Control and the associated adjustable suspension. “The standard springs offer a slightly bouncier ride,” said Klein, who owns a Golf R with DCC. “Adjustable suspension also means you can better customize individual preferences, and without that option, the car feels a little less personal and more sedate.” For 2017 models, Volkswagen clearly listened to its customers, who overwhelmingly opted to tick boxes for DCC and navigation – all new Golf Rs come in a single, fully loaded trim.
For my part I have spent plenty of time exploring the versatility of the hatchback body style as part of my ongoing (and escalating) surfing addiction. The large opening for the cargo area makes it easy to get anything shorter than an 8’ Wavestorm inside once you’ve got the seats folded, regardless of fin size and configuration, and there’s plenty of space left for the rest of the gear — wetsuit, bucket for the wetsuit, change poncho, towel, etc. Longboards like my 9’4” simply won’t fit lengthwise, but the Golf R’s low roof height makes roof-mounting an easy task. While I use a pair of foam blocks as a temporary roof rack, a permanent one is no trouble to fit, making the Golf R a good choice for enthusiasts that lead active lifestyles. Too bad there isn’t a rally version. No doubt the Golf R would look good with a roofrack and a set of mudflaps.
While there’s not exactly an expiration date on fun in the sun in Southern California, the clock is ticking on the Golf R’s year-long stint. We hope to squeeze one last adventure in before it heads home to Volkswagen, so stay tuned.
Our 2016 Volkswagen Golf R
|MILES TO DATE||18,848|
|ENGINE||2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/292 hp @ 5,400 rpm, 280 lb-ft @ 1,800 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION||6-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine AWD hatchback|
|EPA MILEAGE||23/30 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||168.4 x 70×8. 56.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.5 sec|
|TOP SPEED||155 mph|