I settled this debate a short while ago: The Volkswagen Golf R is the final answer. If you need more convincing, read the following.
Let’s begin by establishing the top would-be competitors to the 2019 Volkswagen Golf R. In no particular order other than the Honda Civic Type R being is arch rival and nemesis, we find the Subaru WRX STI, Hyundai Veloster N, Toyota 86, Nissan 370Z, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Mazda MX-5, Audi S3, BMW M240i, Mercedes-AMG A 35 4MATIC and that just about covers it.
With an exception or two, all of these cars can hover in the low $40k price range. They vary greatly is size, content and performance but what they all share in is a driving experience designed to please. Some do it better than others, some could easily be stricken from the list. But above all, the Volkswagen Golf R is the sole car of this grouping that can do it all, and I do mean all
Earlier this year, I organized a comparison test for one of the most respected auto media books in the country and pitted the Golf R, Type R, N, MX-5 and BRZ against each other and the Dub took the honours.
Here’s more fodder to consider.
Why you should buy a 2019 Volkswagen Golf R:
- The turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder produces an easy 288-horsepower at 5,400 rpm and 280 lb.-ft. of torque as of 1,800 rpm. It’s not the most powerful but it is one of the most torque-rich. In the proper hands with the manual gearbox, 0-100km/h goes by in 5.5 seconds. Drop 0.3 or so with the 7-speed DSG.
- Quick and powerful as it may be, the Golf R can consume as little as 9L/100km in normal driving situations.
- Of the lot, the Golf R, tied with the A3 and A 35, is the most refined and comfortable daily driver. On a whim, it also transforms into an immensely potent track-day weapon.
- As a daily, it will accommodate five passengers and a considerable amount of gear in its trunk. And everyone’s comfortable.
- With the exception of the projected-to-be-pricier Mercedes-AMG A 35 ($47,000?) and Subaru WRX STI, the VW Golf R is the only other car to offer AWD as a standard feature. This further elevates the Golf’s abilities. On a wet track or in the dead of winter, it is king.
- At $42,495, the 2019 Volkswagen Golf R is fully loaded with Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC), VW’s Digital Cockpit, App-Connect, leather sport seats, Fender audio, 8-inch touchscreen, LED headlights and much, much more.
- The 2019 MK7 Volkswagen Golf R is truly a no-compromise all-situation automobile.
Why you should not buy a 2019 Volkswagen Golf R:
- The Honda Civic Type R. This is, bar-none, the best street-legal track-focused car your money can buy today. Its shortcomings are limited to its questionable styling, and lack of AWD. The Type R would likely not be as good if it was AWD. Seriously, the Honda Civic Type R is the Japanese Porsche 911 GT3. It’s that good.
- The R’s performance/price ratio is not especially advantageous. The Civic Type R is about $1,500 cheaper (on paper) and is quicker. The Hyundai Veloster N is a solid $7k less expensive and nearly as quick, not to mention with a little more kit.
- 2019 is the MK7’s final model year. VW’s Spectrum of colours is no longer offered. You can no longer order a new Golf R but there are many still available at dealerships. Some have ordered unique colours however they will be difficult to come by. As well, price premiums could become a thing if demand rises for specific colours. The new 2021 (?) MK8 VW Golf R will again be offered with the colour Spectrum.
- Unlike the MK5 Golf R32 and MK6 Golf R, the MK7 Golf R is a very common car – it’s not as special, but this should not be a reason to shop something else.
In the real world, the 2019 Volkswagen Golf R is the best-balanced, easiest to live with hot compact car. Surprisingly for many, it also happens to be relatively reliable. The second best is the Honda Civic Type R but if you take one for a test-drive, you’ll be forced to select it over the Golf. Come winter or a wet track day event, you’ll repeatedly be lapped by a Golf R.
In the right hands, there’s precious little the VW Golf R cannot tackle. Its brakes are immensely powerful and resistant, the DCC with its adjustable dampers provide as much or as little damping as desired. And finally, the R’s 4MOTION AWD system with XDS (works like a limited slip differential with brake-biased torque vectoring) will keep you headed in the desired direction at all times.
The Golf R’s main disappointment is that it feels normal; it behaves like a regular Golf. That is, until the throttle is mashed and the steering wheel is yanked. If constant drama and noises are what you are looking for, consider a WRX STI. Actually, the new Rex and Rex STI are expected very shortly and could pose a huge threat to the Golf R and Civic Type R. I am very much looking forward to meeting it.
In the meantime, get a 2019 VW Golf R.