The United States has been teased with the Golf R for more than two years now. We've known it was coming. We've driven it in Europe. But we didn't get a taste for VW's all-wheel-drive, 256-horsepower, six-speed-manual-equipped super Golf on our own turf until very recently.
Following that drive of a two-door Golf R, we had a four-door 2012 Golf R visit our test track to see if the hottest new Golf since the R32 lives up to the hype.
Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Golf R
Driver: Mike Monticello
Price: $34,760 (base price)
Drive Type: Front engine, all-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed manual
Engine Type: Turbocharged inline-4
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 1,984/121
Redline (rpm): 6,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 256 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 243 @ 2,400
Brake Type (front): 13.6-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): 12.2-inch solid discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type(front): Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 225/40R 18 (92H)
Tire Size (rear): 225/40R 18 (92H)
Tire Brand: Pirelli
Tire Model: P Zero Nero All Season
Tire Type: Asymmetrical all-season
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,407
0-30 (sec): 2.2 (3.1 w/ TC on)
0-45 (sec): 4.0 (5.2 w/ TC on)
0-60 (sec): 6.2 (7.8 w/ TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 6.0 (7.4 w/ TC on)
0-75 (sec): 8.7 (10.3 w/ TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 14.4 @ 97.2 (15.5 @ 95.2 w/ TC on)
30-0 (ft): 32
60-0 (ft): 124
Slalom (mph): 66.7 (65.0 w/TC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.82 (0.82 w/TC on)
Db @ Idle: 44.7
Db @ Full Throttle: 75.1
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 62.8
Acceleration: 5,500-rpm clutch launch produced the fastest run. No wheelspin, as all four tires hooked up and actually bogged the R just slightly off the line. Then it rockets forward and you have to shift almost immediately. Requires a shift to 3rd gear before 60 mph. Engine runs out of steam before redline, revs slowly in 4th gear. Shifter has long throws, but easy-to-find gates.
Braking: Nice, firm pedal with short travel. Solid, drama-free stops. No brake odor, no side-to-side movement, but lengthy distances considering this is an R. First stop was shortest at 124 feet. Third stop (out of 6) was longest at 132 feet.
Skid pad: The skid pad shows more than anything just how intrusive the Golf R's stability system is, as its constant desire to cut throttle produced pathetic grip numbers, far worse than the R32 we tested in 2008.
Slalom: There's lots of potential here, with quick and precise steering and a communicative chassis and AWD. Yet because the ESC cannot be defeated, constantly intervening and cutting the throttle, the R's potential remains untapped. It's an absolute abomination that VW does not let the R model fully switch all its nannies off.