2012 saw VW introduce the seventh generation of the Golf – this version debuted at the Paris Motor Show and shared its MQB platform with the Audi A3, Seat Leon and Skoda Octavia. Lighter and larger than the 6th generation of the Golf, this version of VW’s ever popular small car also offered GTI, GTI Clubsport, GTI Clubsport S and R models for those of us who like hot hatches.
All the above hot models use the same engine, VW’s inline 4 2.0 litre turbo petrol engine. The GTI offers that engine with 207bhp or 220bhp if the Performance Pack option is specified while the GTI Clubsport, released in 2016, offers 261bhp. The Clubsport S held the front wheel drive record around the Nordschleiffe circuit for a while.
Facelift – generation 7.5
In November 2016, Volkswagen facelifted the Golf, introduced LED lights all round and switched the instrument cluster to VW’s version of Audi’s virtual cockpit. Finally, VW also boosted the engine output of the hot versions. The GTI now delivered 230bhp (250bhp with the Performance Pack). If you are following one of these versions down the road, you will also notice it uses the animated indicators first seen in Audi models.
The R variant of this generation tuned the 2.0 litre engine to just under 300bhp and offered permanent four wheel drive using Haldex technology. The car can be ordered with adaptive suspension and either a manual transmission or VW’s DSG box. This version of the R is actually running the same engine that the Clubsport S used to conquer the Nurburgring albeit fitted with more creature comforts and is, at time of sale, the most powerful Golf model ever placed on sale.
As I mentioned above, generation 7.5 of the Golf gave us LED lighting and new bumpers while the interior benefited from more obvious updates. The instruments are replaced with a completely digital cluster following the lead of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit while the media and entertainment systems can understand gesture control. Good enough, but the 2015 Seat Leon I had used touch screen tech instead of buttons that sometimes didn’t respond to my actions, so I wonder how good this gesture controlling is in reality.
As for the other creature comforts – the seats are upgraded over the standard car, there’s bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple Carplay and the adaptive cruise control is something I’ve wanted for ages. Sounds like a nice place to be assuming that the gesture controlling works…
As with my Seat Leon, on the move the car has an artificial exhaust note piped into the cabin. I’m on the fence around this – it beats listening to road noise and a poor exhaust tone, but I think if I was buying a Golf R I’d specify the exhaust option that makes a real noise – the Akrapovic exhaust for me please.
The Golf GTI, in this variant, is a great car to drive – a buddy of mine had one without the PP option (Performance Pack) and it was a joy to drive. The R has the reputation of being better, so I’m itching to try one. It’s also interesting that the R can be had with a six speed manual or VW’s DSG transmission – the GTI I mentioned had the DSG system and it was really nice to use. However, I suspect the hot hatch idea is best served with a manual shifter even though the DSG-equipped car reaches 60 in 4.6 seconds while the manual version takes 0.5 seconds longer.
My only issue with these cars when new was the price paid for a car that mainly looked no different from a standard Golf (with the quad exhaust pipes protruding from the rear the only real visual giveaway). But as time moves on, these are becoming good value on the used market – this one is for sale at just under €33000 from a new sale price of just under €50000 – so the Mk VII Golf R is definitely a contender for a spot in my driveway.
What to look out for on a 2017 VW Golf R
As per usual, there are a few things to watch out for
- Ensure all the electrics are operational
- Check that the adaptive cruise control (if fitted) is working – when this car was first placed on sale, the dealers were not given the equipment to repair these systems if they malfunctioned
- Ensure the electric parking brake holds the car, as there are reports of these failing
- Oil consumption can be high. Check the oil level!
- If the panoramic sunroof is fitted, check for leaks or any tiny cracks. There have been reports of these imploding or leaking.
- Look for a full service history!
VW Golf R (2017) – Vital Statistics
|Power||228 kW (306 bhp) @ 5500rpm|
|Torque||380 Nm (280 lb/ft) @ 2000rpm|
|0-100 km/h (0-62 mph)||4.6 seconds (5.1 manual)|
|Maximum speed||250 km/h (155 mph) limited|
|Fuel consumption (average)||7.5 l/100km (37.7 mpg)|
|Fuel type, tank capacity||Petrol, 55 litres|
|Engine||Volkswagen group EA888,|
Cast iron block,
Alumimium alloy head,
|Cylinders and valves||Inline 4, 16v|
|Transmission||6 speed manual or|
7 speed DSG transmission
(dual clutch setup)
|Drivetrain||All wheel drive (Haldex)|