Last Saturday a few of us got together for our usual round of teh tarik over at Desa Sri Hartamas. This time around two of them brought their new rides. One was a newly registered grey imported Volkswagen Golf R Mk6 and the other was one of those large C7 Audi A6 3.0TFSI. The Golf most of you would know is the range topping Golf whereas the A6 is the mid-tier A6, but as you will find out, a stonking one at that. So aside from the usual banter and exchange of thoughts, it was a night of driving around in some cars too.
So the Mk6 Golf R (remember that its the Mk7 Golf these days). This was a car that was the replacement for the Mk5 Golf R32. That car had a 247hp 3.2liter VR6 engine coupled to a haldex all wheel drive train. This one drops the normally aspirated 3.2liter for a turbocharged 2.0liter that originally made its home in the Mk5 Golf but having modified internals. At that point of time, Volkswagen thought that the earlier engine was a more stronger, tunable engine than the one in the Mk6 Golf GTI. It came into the market equipped with 267hp (271ps) and 350Nm torque. This went through either a 6 speed manual or a 6 speed wet clutch type DSG (dual clutch transmission) haldex all wheel drive setup. It also came in 3 door or a 5 door hatch forms.
The one brought that day however was a 5 door Japan specced car. According to its owner, this meant that it had a slightly detuned engine that was designed to cope with humidity and lots of traffic. It had 252hp (256ps) and 330Nm torque. It was a DSG equipped one too. Compare this with a stock Golf GTI – that had 208hp and 280Nm torque. So on paper it was supposedly faster than the GTI of the time.
Inside you get Recaro seats up front. Not the ones with the integrated headrests and shoulder wings like the official ones sold here by VW Malaysia but ones with a separate headrest. The rest is very similar to the interior of any Golf GTI or TSI for that matter. Outside, you do get different front and rear bumpers. The front has three distinctive, large gaping lower grilles on the bumper but the overall look is still quite tame. The car also runs the 18inch wheel and tyre combo instead of the larger 19inch combination that official imports came with. In short, this version is slightly more understated than usual. Especially with the very dark coloured wheels. Aside from the R badges front and rear. This one is a real Q car. Compare the main pic above to the one in the file photo below.
So how it it like to drive? Quite like how any Golf drives actually. With a bit more power. According to its owner, this car has 225hp at its wheels according to a recent dyno run. 225 from 252 is actually quite good when you factor in transmission losses that most cars, especially all wheel drive ones have. But we have to gauge against the stock Mk6 GTI, which is front wheel drive and would have less transmission losses to its 208hp compared to this car. Of course, lets factor in the extra weight the Haldex system adds into a Golf R. About 100kgs – 1615kg vs 1515kg. Even without drivetrain losses, the Golf R has a power to weight ratio of only about 20hp over the GTI. 156Hp/ton vs 137hp/ton or thereabouts.
So it actually does not feel that mch faster on the road. It however comes equipped with a really nice sounding exhaust system that stock GTI owners would love to add on and it is very much more planted than the stock GTI Mk6. Maybe too planted. You see, the Haldex, whilst isn't a system as crappy as the one in a Honda CRV is an all-wheel drive system that puts most of the power through the front wheels. I gather from research and driving feel that it is more front wheel drive oriented than any Subaru STI or Lancer Evo. In dry road conditions, the Haldex system puts less than 15% through the rear wheels and only adds more ones slip is detected. It isn't slow to do so, but it would never throw, say, 75% to the rear wheels in most circumstances.
So it does feel ultra grippy and very much driven, like any regular Golf GTI Mk6. Very good. But it does not bring any real extra to the dining table. All that extra stability actually made me rather have a stock Golf GTI Mk6 in preference to this Golf R. You see, the faster you go (or at the speed you're comfortable with) and for the thrill of driving enjoyment, the GTI Mk6 feels lighter, more eager to turn and more responsive. The Golf R Mk6 here is something super safe in nature and the extra technology has actually removed some aspect of driver to car interaction. In other words, the Golf R Mk6 is clinical. Compare this to the drive in the Golf GTI Mk6, at the start you'd be happy because when you stomp on the loud pedal, there roar (albeit slightly quieter than the R) is there, the tyres start chirruping and then the DSG changes up in a whump and a pop. The R does this too. But the Haldex does not allow wheel chirrups. Sometimes you need things to be a little manic. No? Yes. It's the thrill of driving and manhandling a car is what I crave these days. Of course, I am not like one of those crazed road testers that only get out of bed for less than 400hp. I am sensible.
I am sensible because the price my friend paid for, RM170,000 for a unregistered Golf R with less than 50,000km on the clock, is decent money (for Malaysia, remember) for a performance car with some pedigree. A brand new Mk7 version would have cost him at least RM290,000. Sometimes, you want more than just the normal sort of toys. You want something slightly different. Slightly being the word.
So the Golf R Mk6 is a nice car, well equipped but a little too clinical to sing. Maybe it is like a singer that has been using autotune. Too much of clarity to feel soulful. I suppose it is somewhat like the R32 before this. That however was soulful sounding. A spectacular soundtrack but coupled to a chassis that could not dance that much too. So in this case, maybe a Stage 1 upgrade to the engine seems necessary. And we've been telling the owner to stop modding his car after his previous one, a fully done up Polo GTI gave him tons of tuning problems to worry about. But he does need more power. About 30hp more at least.
But then, the Audi A6 3.0 that we later drove around had more than that. Much more than that. Something to really get out of bed for. Stay tuned folks. Will get that done once I'm done with testing something with a piddling 105ps.