Month: October 2017

Launch Drive: Range Rover Velar

Range Rover Velar

Our first drive of the Range Rover Velar

2017 has been a funny year, time has seemed to disappear and in the past 10 months we have seen some great cars announced and launched, which now seems like an age ago. As the year draws to a close there has been much hype around one particular car – The Range Rover Velar.

Dubbed the most customizable Range Rover yet, the Velar has been referred to as a piece of art just as much as a vehicle and because of this, the Dylan Lewis Sculpture garden hidden deep in the Stellenbosch mountains made sense as a suitable location to begin the South African media launch.

Before we ate Velarish type food prepared by one of South African’s best chefs, Neil Anthony, we enjoyed a tour and explanation of the unique sculpture found here, followed by an unveiling of the car itself. Having seen the Velar in the flesh before this event, I knew what to expect. Still, the Range Rover Velar makes you stop and stare, a big emphasis has been placed on simplicity with it’s design and this can be clearly seen in the concept styled front end and streamlined edges that flow past door handles which pop out and become visible only when you need them. It is without doubt the most beautiful car ever produced by JLR.

Range Rover Velar

It not just the visual appearance that has been hyped up either, the technology within has also received much attention. The Velar uses over 10 km’s worth of cable and we were interested to see what this results in, but first, a good night’s rest at the beautiful L’Ermitage hotel located nearby.

After waking up to beautiful views, it was now time to experience a beautiful car. It’s worth noting that the Velar is the fourth model in the Range Rover line up, and doesn’t serve as a replacement for the Evoque or the Sport but rather slots in between the two.

Our morning started in the Velar R Dynamic D300 – D for diesel, and 300 for the amount of Horsepower it produces – this new naming system will be rolled out among all models eventually. The 300 hp or 221 kW is aided by 700 N.m of torque, all produced by 3.0 V6 turbodiesel. The power and response from this drivetrain was impressive with plenty of low down torque fixing one’s body firmly into the Velar’s seats, which aided the massage function even further – something that was definitely not minded.

For me the beauty of the D300 was simple, it provides a wonderfully smooth and quiet driving experience when needed, with in gear acceleration which makes me dream of Durban to Cape Town road trips in December. Before I got carried away, my driving partner took control and I began to play with the tech.

As you may or may not know, the Velar features JLR’s new Infotainment system called Touch Duo Pro. This system features two high-definition 10” screens which operates many of the car’s electronic systems such as comfort seating options, Navigation, Climate Control and even driving modes and off-road systems such as wade control and low traction launch.  First things first, this system is beautiful. It takes center stage in the Velars cabin and really emphasizes the whole interior experience. With the ignition off, the lower screen simply looks like luxurious interior trim, when the ignition is engaged however, magic happens and the lower screen comes to life, while the top screen tilts upwards towards the cabin.

Range Rover Velar

There is a third screen under the driver’s control, this being a digital display which replaces the classic dashboard dials and can display varied information such as speed, navigation, media etc. Steering wheel controls are not the usual type either, with the increase and decrease in volume done by simply sliding your finger in a circular fashion around the dial.

Range Rover Velar

Amongst all of the touch and digital tech, you won’t find any gimmicky gesture control and JLR have left a volume knob on the center console, this makes me immensely happy. There is no easier way to control sound volume when driving, if you choose not to use the on-wheel system, or you have one of those passengers that mess. After the ooo’s and ahh’s that come with fiddling with the industry leading tech, we exchanged vehicles for the other diesel variant on launch, the HSE D240.

The 177 kW AND 500 N.m produced are very enticing figures but as I drove this variant, I instantly regretted driving the more powerful 3.0 Diesel first. Obviously, the difference in performance was instantly noticeable but when this is overlooked, the D240 is a fantastic option for those looking for a diesel variant where performance isn’t high on the priority list but comfort and efficiency perhaps are and 500 N.m is still a plenty bunch to have on your side. I feel this variant is not the option you choose just because your budget is limited and it’s a cheaper variant, it’s the option you choose if it fits your purpose.

After a spot of lunch at the beautiful (…) river, we enjoyed uninterrupted views of the gardens surrounding us, unique architecture and a chance to reflect on the morning so far while enjoying a selection of lunch platters. For me, the most exciting variant was yet to come, being the P380.

The 3.0 V6 Petrol variant is the most powerful engine currently available with 280 kW and 400 N.m of torque. For me, this drivetrain suits the Velar very well, not just because it’s fast, but for a host of reasons. The P380 produces a beautiful performance note on hard acceleration, a note that isn’t too loud doesn’t attract too much attention but provides the driver with the sporty experience. Don’t expect breakneck force but rather enjoyable acceleration, as the car climbs higher into the RPM range, the engine comes to life. At this point I found myself constantly chasing the red line and sweet note that comes with it, changing gear and thus starting the cycle over. Velar P380 provides a great balance of sport and comfort, it is definitely no SVR but who knows, maybe that will come in the future – a 5.0 V8 would be wild in a car like the velar and the name had quite a ring “ Velar SVR”

With over 17 Wheel options, …. interior trims and … paint colors, one can really create a Velar in line with their personality, there are a multitude of options that can be specced depending on your personal preference and this makes the Velar the most customizable Range Rover to date. In a world where customers want uniqueness, Velar makes this possible.

So where does the Velar fit in?

The premium SUV market is a competitive place to be but when compared to its German competitors, the Velar really offers something different, a bold product which possesses more character and substance – from a brand whose SUV variants are all priced very closely, this is of utmost importance. The Velar has a starting price of R940 000 but in all honesty, don’t walk into a JLR dealership expecting to only spend R1 million. Yes, your Velar will still be very nice, but for me, that’s not what the experience of buying a Velar should be about.

Just like an artist takes time, effort and precision in his work, purchasing your Velar, which has been compared to art many times over, should be a similar experience. One that is unrushed, personal, crafted and time consuming. You should be comfortable speccing all of the options if you so wish, or just the 5 or 6 you want your Velar to have. Many people may disagree, but skimping on a car like the Velar is just not worth it in the long run. If you want the full experience, go the full mile.

Range Rover Velar

In overview, Land Rover have developed a car which really stands out in terms of design and technology. Would I buy one? That is a question that I still need to answer, I’d rather see myself in a Range Rover Sport. For my wife on the other hand, the Range Rover Velar would be perfect. At the end of the day, the Velar is car which will not disappoint, it offers something I feel is unique in its segment, and I would rather purchase a Velar over any of its German rivals, but then again,  I am an Englishman.

Some cars don’t need long titles: Polestar 1

Polestar1

Polestar 1

It’s here. Like ABBA making a return, but better. The day has come and gone and Volvo has finally launched their standalone performance brand, Polestar, after what seemed like many moons and suns.

Many of you may have heard the Polestar name before, and that is because up until now, they have even fettling common or garden Volvo’s and turning them into feisty blue upstarts – think of Polestar as being to Volvo what M Performance is to BMW, until now…

Having completely reinvented the brand, Polestar is now Volvo’s answer to the likes of M GmbH, AMG and Audi Sport, but with a sensible twist – they specialise in hybrids.

Unfortunately for those of us who love a little bit of a performance car here and there, we are headed into a cul-de-sac of woe and misery come the day we run out of petrol and choke all the rabbits and wombats with our noxious gasses. Polestar have seen both the gap in the market and the need for a performance hybrid, and while they most certainly aren’t the first to have done it, they have done a wonderfully good job.

Dubbed Polestar 1, their first foray into big-boy’s territory – think M6, E63S Coupe (when that becomes a thing) and RS7 two-door (when that also becomes a thing) – it’s not only a looker, but a serious bit of kit.

What is it?

Underpinned by Volvo’s SPA modular platform, it shares much of its chassis bits with the S90, however, it the wheelbase has been shortened by 320 mm with the bum, and oh what a bum it is, losing an additional 200 mm. The gents at Polestar most certainly know what they are doing, and they claim that 50% of Polestar 1’s chassis is unique to the vehicle, as well as being 45% stiffer than the S90’s chassis and 230 kg lighter. The majority of that weight saving and extra stiffness comes courtesy of Polestar 1’s carbon fibre bodywork.

What makes it go?

Beneath all that carbon fibre lies a hybrid setup somewhat similar to what you’ll find in Volvo’s current T8 models, but not really. Same same but different in that there’s an electric motor for each of the rear wheels – yay for real torque vectoring – and then the same old poke 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged mill we’ve all grown to love sitting up front. Total output is a staggering 448 kW and 1 000 N.m, which will likely propel the swishy Swede from 0-100km/h in under 4 seconds in ‘Power Mode’ yet should the mood take you, around 150 km in ‘Pure’ mode is possible using electricity only.

Aren’t those batteries heavy?

Well yes, they are, but thanks to the aforementioned carbon fibre, clever weight saving and preposterous amounts of torque, Polestar 1 will definitely not handle like a fat kid on a roundabout. Its centre of gravity is very low and as we all know, that’s a good thing. Not only that, but that other famous Swedish company and long-time friends of Polestar, Öhlins, have developed Polestar 1’s suspension. Dubbed Öhlins Continuously Controlled Electronic Suspension (CESi), it’s their first foray into continuously variable suspension and it sounds pretty nifty, being able to make adjustments in just 2-milliseconds, taking into account both road conditions and driver input. Changes to the setup can also be made from within Polestar 1’s exquisite cabin, a first for Öhlins, and will likely feature a range of settings from ‘Comfort’ mode to ‘Race’ mode.

Famed Japanese brake manufacturers, Akebono, have contributed their 85 years of braking expertise into Polestar 1’s braking system, which makes use of 400 mm discs sandwiched between six-piston callipers – serious stuff.

Can I have one?

Sort of, but it’s tricky. Potential customers are only able to purchase the vehicle online – a world first – either via a smartphone app or through an online portal. A smart idea, but don’t expect a Takealot scooter to rock up with your Polestar 1 in tow. It’s far more complex and revolutionary than that and, just like we saw with the XC40 which debuts Care by Volvo, you will be able to ‘subscribe’ to the vehicle for two or three years, without a deposit, and have access to vehicle accessories such as a roof box, the ability to rent other vehicles from within the Volvo stable and pick-up and drop-off assistance when the time comes for your vehicle to be serviced. Polestar 1 will also do away with the traditional concept of a key-fob and will make do with a virtual key, embedded into your mobile phone. This also allows for the owner to send a virtual key to whomever they please, remotely, allowing them access to the vehicle, too. It’s a smart and revolutionary way of thinking and likely to be something that other manufacturers adopt in the very near future.

Where are they making it and are they hiding more Polestars?

Polestar 1 is set to be produced in Chengdu, China at the all-new Polestar Production Centre. Polestar claim that it will be the most environmentally-responsible car factory in China and while initially only geared for low volume production of Polestar 1, it has been designed to cater for larger volumes come the dawning of the age of Aquarius – or a few new models, whichever comes first. We can expect to see both a Tesla Model 3 and Model X competitor from the brand in the coming years, and with BMW’s i Vision Dynamics Concept closer to production than many think, things are about to get interesting…

Now, scroll back and ogle over those images again!

The Golf R32 – The best fast AWD Golf thus far?

Golf R32

The Golf R32 Driven Review

With October kicking itself off with gloomy and stormy weather and muscle tops and sunglasses replaced with coats and boots, it’s safe to say the overall “suns out guns out” atmosphere has changed drastically. The only real way I could do any road testing in what seems to be an endless torrential downpour was in a boat, this was until an unexpected conversation with a rather attractive lady owner of a black 2007 VW Golf R32…

The conversation led to the conclusion that I would take her number – because of course, and we would link up again for a day of rigorous road testing. The “date” had arrived and late on a Saturday, the inquisitive lady saw it fit to tag along during my escapades in her pride and joy. The car was a very clean example, with only 97 thousand kilometres on the clock, fully original with the exclusion of an imported Milltek full exhaust. Sadly I noted the tires were a set that I hate most in the world, Yokohama S-drives, which I dislike for their lack of grip when compared to rival tires, but nevertheless, it would prove to be an interesting day.

Driving Impressions

After being dragged out of my warm house and away from my snuggle buddy – Mr Cuddles a plush toy teddy, with only the flooded roads and full body wetness to look forward to, I set off to the prescribed meeting location.  After the obligatory “Hellos” and pretending to be interested in the happenings and day of others, I began about on a full walk around and examination of this specimen of German engineering. Rather grumpily climbed into the driver’s seat and was almost fondled by the optional buckets fitted to this vehicle. The seats are incredibly aggressive and hold one’s figure tightly and proved to be rather well suited to aggressive cornering. The interior is typical VW, the layout simple and uncomplicated. Everything functional and full of leather and soft-touch surfaces. Handed the keys, a simple twist to the ignition let loose a loud and aggressive six- cylinder burble, unmistakably Volkswagen’s famed 3.2-litre VR6 Motor. The exhaust drone was extravagant and let a touch too much noise into the cabin when driving around in town, and this didn’t help my mood, nor did the passenger and owner who selected to drown this out with the hard-hitting bars and cuss words all too familiar with a classic Snoop Album. Now I like Snoop, maybe even more than most, but I wanted to return to the warmth of my bed and fill my face with coffee and my gran’s baked treats.

Leaving the empty city roads behind, I flicked the references to shootings and marijuana off and flicked the DSG box into “S”. Given the road was very wet and slippery, knowing I had 4Motion All-wheel drive as my safety net; I began the dance of G-forces. The owner began to look more and more concerned as the speed climbed. With the choice of road being rather familiar now, I entered each corner rather rapidly and the steering was bang on, pointing the nose at the apex, relaying exactly where the front wheels were facing and as grip began to wash at the front, my organs began to feel the power moving around to the rear wheels. The grip is endless and very much confidence inspiring. Driving you out the apex is this deep and throaty VR6 delivering 184 kW all the way up at 6 300 rpm. The journey to the rev-limit is immense and this theatrical experience with the revs climbing and reaching impressive eargasmic levels of audio solace. The motor pulls strong on a wave of N.m delivering 320 torques from a lowly 2 500 rpm, and this translates to a linear and constant shove rather than the push to into your seat that a turbo car would deliver. The experience is fantastic as the engine screams to 7000 rpm before its time to bang in the next cog, it’s brilliantly agile and the extra weight of the differentials and electronic Haldex magic machines is not enough to unsettle the properly sorted MK5 chassis. The tricky dynamic stuff now done and the R32 having impressed, the true test was now in the typical let down of the fast Golf AWD.  The endless grip and clever Haldex trickery often leaves you cold when looking for fun rather than precision quickness. I’ve always maintained the MK6 and Mk7 R’s were like a night out with the choice of drink being Beck, non-Alcoholic beer. Look, you’ll have a great time but, you can’t be silly and dance on tables till you vomit everywhere and wake-up to the black eye the bouncer gave you. This did improve with the Mk7.5 with it being more fun, but still being likened to cheap vodka – great fun, horrible hangover. The hangover in its case being the Stupid R657 000 asking price.

The Mk5 R32 does the fun element very well, the VR6 adds so much character and when being manic with the handbrake on entry to wet corners and traffic circles, the 320 N.m do a great job of keeping all fours spinning, enough to pull cute AWD skids, moving the 90% front power bias around to the wheels with grip and this is rather amazing, scary for your passengers but rather epic. Even the humble undercover parking lot provides for some merriment, the V6 and a heavy throttle input almost always manage to scare a few parked cars into alarm blaring cries of fear. After all the fun and jolliness of skids and being kicked out of parking garages,  the return trip saw the pretty lady rather impressed with what I’d like to believe was the modicum of talent and overwhelming stupidity I possessed, and like a magician I announced my final trick was launch control at the sight of the red light.  This was a bit of a letdown given the lowly 3 000 rpm launch limit doesn’t allow for enough slip to make it properly brisk but 6.5 seconds is impressive given the car’s 10 years of existence, so too the top speed of 250km/h.

SUMMARY

The R32 is very impressive as an all-weather machine, its old school in its demeanour with no turbo lag, no invasive electronic nannies, just a great big engine, a loud exhaust and a clever way of delivering the power. Its Haldex based 4Motion AWD system feels less restrictive than the new safety-conscious models and the engine still very strong. The addition of an exhaust to this just makes it truly epic, I would still argue this is the best AWD golf thus far and to prove this point I’m prepared to have an actual fist fight in its defense – I’d lose but it’s the principle that counts.

GOLF MK5 R32 PRICING IN SOUTH AFRICA

The R32 can be had for around R200k, with the cleaner models with low mileage climbing into the R250 000 mark. The engines are strong and last forever and see over 300 000 km. The VW reliability comes standard, and so too does the 10l/100km when driving around town and double that when “On a night out”   

Electric this, hybrid that – Meet the new Range Rover.

New Range Rover Goes Electric

Just weeks after the release of the 2018 Range Rover Sport, JLR have surprised us with another release, and this time it’s the oldest sibling in the family receiving the updates, the Range Rover.

With 50 years behind its belt, the Range Rover has continually developed and is know one of the most luxurious vehicles on the road. With the latest model, this is taken a step further with increased comfort, better technology and the introduction of a hybrid electric powertrain.

So whats changed? Well a newly designed cabin hosts a wide range of comfort adding features. In the front, for example, new seat frames allow 24 way movement, along with this comes added comfort thanks to the use of wider and deeper foam and the the introduction of heated armrests – for those that like sweaty palms.

Jumping into the back, one will notice an abundance of legroom, 1206 mm to be exact. The rear seats, also benefiting from wider and softer foam, recline by up to 40 degrees and can be heated or cooled, depending on your preference, while the arm, foot and calf rests can only be heated.

Connectivity isn’t an issue either, the new Range Rover has a total 17 connection points, including domestic plug sockets, USB, HDMI and 12-volt power. On top of this, the Range Rover features a G4 WI-FI hotspot which can connect with up to 8 devices.

The centre console is where the technological magic happens, the new Touch Pro Duo system features two high-definition 10” screens with the ability to swipe information between them for personal preference or ease of use. The system is dubbed “blade” and is JLR’s most advanced infotainment system yet, and the coolest we have seen!

This is not all on the technology front as the new Range Rover introduces Gesture Sunblind, which is operated by an advanced gesture control system. Air Cabin Ionisation is also available, this system used charged water particles to cleanse and purify the cabin air. My favorite piece of technology though has to be the Pixel-laser LED headlights, on full beam they provide lighting for a distance of 500m and intelligently blank sections of LEDs when oncoming traffic is detected as not to blind other drivers.

Range Rover P400e

First mentioned in our Range Rover Sport article, the P400e is a hybrid electric powertrain which makes use of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 221 kW, and an electric motor producing 85 kW.  This provides a total power output of 297 kW and  640 N.m of torque, delivered to wheels by a permanent four-wheel drive system.

Two driving modes are available with this powertrain. The first being a Parallel Hybrid mode, which makes use of both the petrol engine and electric motor to balance fuel economy and battery level-which will never drop past a predetermined level.

The second mode, dubbed EV Mode, enables pure electric and emission free driving with a maximum range of 51 km. This kind of mode is perfect for town driving, the school run and even bumper to bumper traffic.

As with everything electric, the Range Rover P400e will need to be charged. There are two options available here, the standard system goes from zero to full charge in 7 hours 30 minutes, but make use of a 30 amp Rapid Charging system and this time drops to an impressive 2 hours 45 minutes.

So how will this hybrid electric powertrain fair offroad? Well JLR have introduced the Terrain Response 2 system into the 2018 Range Rover. It has been designed to work in conjunction with electric power and can offer 100% of torque to all four wheels at zero rpm. We can imagine this capability will offer fantastic control in unusual and difficult terrain.


Range Rover SVAutobiography

For those not yet ready to give up V8 power, the SVAutobiography which was originally released in 2016 will also be an available variant. The Supercharged 5.0 V8 now benefits from an 11 kW power increase over the previous model, bringing the total power to 416 kW and allowing for a 0-100 km/h time of just 5.4 seconds. Not quite SVR level, but still very fast.

The SVAutobiography will also benefit from some slight visual adjustments, mainly in two areas. The first being a new exclusive Graphite Atlas mesh grille, and the second being a redesigned bumper featuring integrated chrome tailpipes. We imagine these features will help the SVautobiography stand out amongst the other variants, but we are pretty sure the sweet sounds from the 5.0 V8 would manage that task just fine.

We are yet to know pricing and availability in South Africa, so stay tuned!

The Updated Range Rover Sport now comes in hybrid.

Range Rover Sport P400e

Land Rover introduces a plug-in hybrid option: Range Rover Sport P400e

Good news! If you wanted the nobility and the imperialism that only a Range Rover could exude, but have grown conflicted given the recent fuel price increase, then Land Rover may be able to reduce the number of litres you need at R14 each. The answer lies in their new P400e Plug-in-hybrid model. The new model is in line with JLR’s ethos of electrification for their new models by 2020 and is the firm’s first attempt at a PHEV.

The Range Rover Sport P400e will ditch the larger displacement V6 and V8 Engines in favour for the 2.0-litre four-pot Ingenium petrol engine. This may initially be a scary thought, but thanks to an 85 kW electric motor mated to a 221 kW combustion engine, the P400e has a total output of 297 kW and an impressive amount of torque, at 640 N.m.

These figures are good for a 6.7 second 0-100 sprint time and a 220 km/h top speed. Enemies of progress will scream blasphemy, still grumpy that the V8 burble is gone, but should understand that this PHEV will match the previous generation Range Rover Sport in terms of sprint and top speed. Fuel consumption figures are impressive and, well, rather unlikely at 2.8 l/100km, but the JLR engineers have made adjustments to the Terrain Response 2 system that allow for seamless integration between the electric motor and the system.

Drivers can select from two driving modes:

The first is Parallel Hybrid mode, which allows for the petrol and electric drive motors to work together and to better fuel economy and offers a Predictive Energy Optimisation (PEO) that finds the most efficient routes to destinations. The second mode is a fully electric mode that allows for the Range Rover to function fully electrically for up to 51 km, on or off-road.  Charging times from home are a lengthy 7 hours 30 minutes unless one makes use of the Rapid Charging 32 Amp Outlet, reducing that time to a mere 2 Hours 45 Minutes.

The new Range Rover Sport

The most significant changes to the new range of Sports is the design, with the changes to the front end now incorporating the Pixel-laser LED headlamps and the new grille, which falls into a newer and more aggressive bumper. The interior will feature the new “Blade” Touch Pro Duo infotainment system which comprises of two High-definition 10-inch touchscreens that make up a single centrepiece. Key new features include a new gesture operated sunblind and advanced tow assist trailer control systems.

SVR performance SUV

The adrenalin junkies seeking more potency and fans of ridiculous levels of speed will be glad to know that the new Range Rover SVR will deliver 423 kW from the 5.0L JLR V8, and will be good for 4.5 seconds to 100km/h. More carbon fibre will help keep the weight down and enhancements to the oily bits will help vehicle dynamics and keep the SUV as agile as possible.  

 

 

Finally, VW have made an exciting Golf R!

Golf R 7.5

Golf 7.5 R Driven Review

It’s all about goals. You find something that you love, aim for it and strive to get there. For any young petrolhead, the VW Golf is a natural aim on the vehicle dartboard and the GTI, being the Crème de la crème of the hot hatch sorbet. Now, I must be honest and say that the GTI has been a firm favourite of mine since it started its crack gym diet back in Golf 5 days. Many hatches could do the same, sometimes even better, faster and sleeker than the GTI but as an overall package, the GTI was just unbeatable. Enter its older brother, the Golf R32, with its fruity sounding exhaust note and so the battle for favourite sibling began, for a price. See, the Golf R’s have always carried a natural premium over their GTI sibling and for good reason. It packed more in its already svelte suit and with the latest ones ditching the VR6 Motor and opting for a similar motor to the one found in the Audi S3, it became the “One” to own and outshone its little sibling, the GTI. Now, I must say that until the Golf 7.5 R, I was a GTI fan through and through and this was due to lack of funds to stretch to the R. I also found that the drive of the R was not nearly as engaging nor was it as exciting as that of the GTI but then again, that may have been my wallet steering me away from poverty…

Enter the Golf 7.5 R and everyone at The Motorist office was buzzing. I had attended the Port Elizabeth launch of the Golf 7.5 and found my love rekindled with the already near perfect hatch, bar the pricing of course. Inflation they say. Francisco attended the launch and came back swearing that he had found the perfect hatch. He explained that the car felt like this and drove like that but being his elder brother, I was skeptical. What do younger siblings know in any case.

On a fresh spring day, I was woken up by the friendly VW personnel, who had deemed it fit to entrust this new Golf 7.5 R to TheMotorist. See the other boys were swamped with other work stuff and being the one with flexible hours, we decided that its best that I keep the car, to really cement that fact that the Golf GTI was the best all-rounder. So, what is this revised R packing? How about 213kW and 380 N.m of torque, being sent to the tarmac via its tried and test 4Motion AWD system and the 7 speed DSG box. I walked around the car and did the expected “I’m just going around the block to get feel” drive. I got in, cleared the speed humps in the neighborhood while saying hi to Steve who walks his dog every day at 13h30 and I was at the first traffic light where I could explore the first two gears of the R. What happened next was something that didn’t feel very GTI-ish at all. This car was angry, very angry. Before I got myself into serious trouble, I decided that this vehicle had something wrong and drove back home to do some research. At R647 300, pricing puts this car square in the fight with the BMW M140i at a starting price of R652 802 and the Ford Focus RS at R699 900 which is a bit of a stretch. Had I disrespected the R as always seeing it as a GTI with more muscle? Yes, yes I had.

Nightfall came and made sure that I was on good terms with the lady of the house and decided that we needed a snack from the Woolies up the road, literally 900 meters from us. I kissed her on the head and said that I shouldn’t be long, code in our home for I’m going for a drive and might be two hours or so. What followed was a night in a Golf like no other. In the crisp air, the R was like a muscular American Bully and was roaming county-ish roads with authority I had never felt from a Golf before. Gone was the numb steering that I didn’t enjoy from the previous generations. This car was nimble, turn-in is sharp and has progressive steering that lets you know what is going on at the front axle. Is this the Golf I had been waiting for? I found a quiet piece of road and decided to see what this launch would feel like without having to worry about the JMPD on Rivonia Road. What followed was a perfect launch that seems to reel in the horizon with absolute disdain. I fell in love. The front end did push eventually through some switchbacks but this can be cured by coming off the throttle and getting the weight to rotate the rear and just like that, you have a four-wheel drift. In my chasing the R around some old farm land around my home, an orange light appeared on the Active Info Display and fearing the worst, thought that I had broken something in my enthusiastic night owl driving. Nope, nothing was broken, just the fuel. I had managed to empty tank in an hour… No, it was three hours! What would my wife say? She was fast asleep, thank goodness, we don’t have dogs! I put my head down but couldn’t sleep. This R had rewired my thinking. The next day I took it out and was surprised how enjoyable it was in traffic. The Golf 7.5 R was adorned with the new full touch screen infotainment with the, now standard customization for throttle response, steering weight and engine mapping. It even does the whole engine note piping through its firewall resonator system in Race mode, But it’s tuned somewhat differently to the GTIs similar system.

Now comes the difficult part with this car. The M140i is more exciting package as its sends all its 450 N.m to the rear axle, along with with 240 kW, too. It’s the drifters dream. It also will need you to resign some body parts like a kidney or maybe a lung as the option list will tempt you to do so. Being rear wheel drive though, it wouldn’t offer the all-weather sure footedness of the R or the RS. The RS is the car to drive if you are lazy like me and just contribute to the Virgin Active upkeep from the nearest Nandos, because it’s the healthiest option. Its manual geaebox makes sense to stubborn mules like me but can be your worst enemy in peak hour traffic. Its ride is like the Anaconda at Gold Reef City. Seriously, it’s that hard. My body hurt after a couple of days in that car. It does make up for it with its very torquey motor and the machine gun action on downshifts makes it all worth it.

So, having spent some time in the car, I begrudgingly handed over the keys for the other writers to spend the time in the R and instantly felt lonely and unsettled, a sign of car that makes you be at odds with your spouse and the bank. VW has finally made an R that’s as exciting to drive as the GTI with the security blanket of having the 4Motion system.  As an everyday package, there is little to complain about here bar the pricing.

VW Golf 7.5 R Pricing in South Africa

The vehicle we had to test with all the Christmas decorations was R727 000 and for that money I would drive away in the vehicle from Bavaria from a pricing perspective. I know, most of you just said bad words to me in your heads but VW’s are cars for the people and with that sticker price, I would stick to the GTI and save some money. I want one, but not at that price!

Let us know what you think?