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Test Drive Review: Volkswagen Mk7 Golf R


So how do I go about writing a review for this car when after driving the car around Sepang and then feeling every little bit of how the car reacts through the corners at high speeds? It is extremely difficult to put it into words because after driving the car, I was completely blown away.

Ok, that may seem a little farfetched but what I would like to highlight is the iteration Volkswagen did with the MkV, Mk6 and finally the Mk7. Between the MkV and the Mk6, I couldn’t tell the difference. The Mk7 however, just blows the other two away. And what makes the Mk7 so special. First of all it sits on Volkswagen’s new MQB platform which makes the overall car lighter.


Secondly, in the Golf R, the engine layout has been moved closer towards the driver. This means that the weight of the engine is shifted closer towards the middle of the car, relieving some load on the front tyres. Together with a new progressive steering gear ratio (2.1 turns versus the old 2.75 turns lock-to-lock), this makes the Mk7 extremely sharp at the turns and quick around the corners. In laymen terms, a normal driver would use less steering work when manoeuvring or when parking the car.

Other things that differ between the Mk6 Golf R and the Mk7 Golf R is that the Mk7 uses the EA888 engine and it produces more power (280ps and 380Nm) compared to the previous version. The car comes with 5 driving profile selection, Comfort, Normal, Race, ECO and individual (individual is where you can customise your throttle, steering and suspension individually). It has ESC (Electronic Stability Control) in Sport mode and a full ESC “Off” which benefits people who want to push the car at the limit.


So why am I raving on and on about the Golf R? Here is why, I am from the era where I started driving at the tracks of Sepang with a rear wheel drive car and lots of torque. The learning curve wasn’t as easy but it took me a while to get the hang of it before I even considered pushing my car at the limit. And when I mean the limit, I mean full traction control off and also me learning it the hard way by spinning out of corners after making a mistake and losing grip on the tyres.

Another wonder from the wizards of the engineering department at Volkswagen is that they have managed to not only increase the length of the car (from 4212mm to 4276mm) but also increase the wheel base (from 2578mm to 2630mm) whilst making the height of the car lower and still manage to shave off 46kg off from the car. That is indeed amazing.


When I am in the Golf R, the whole nervousness is surprisingly gone. It might be there initially because I was thinking that since it wasn’t my car, perhaps I should be a little more gentle on it. And the more and more I gotten used to it, the car just flies, not just in a straight line but through the bends.

So what makes this so easy on the Golf R? In a normal front wheel drive car, if you go into a turn too fast, the car tends to under steer. Press on the accelerator at that moment and you end up in a ditch. Not with the Golf R, you actually have to press the accelerator to stay in the corner. Of course the AWD system is there to help but the interesting factor was the XDS+, a new feature with the Mk7.


Purist will say that a proper mechanical limited slip differential is always the best but when Volkswagen designed the XDS+, they gave it a wonderful feature, the ability to transfer up to a 100% load from one wheel to the other. Thanks to electronics wizards at Volkswagen, the Golf R eats up corners for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Again purist would counter this fact with offerings from Volkswagen themselves in the form of the Golf GTI Mk7 Performance Pack. Not available here in Malaysia, the Performance Pack (PP) offers users with larger brakes with larger brake discs as well as a mechanical limited slip differential.

But that’s the thing, the conclusion I got was that the car is easy to drive, easy to set a fast lap time at Sepang and easy to sprint quickly on the road. And by easy, it really is easy. How did I come with that conclusion? I have gone through a number of advanced driving courses and training which pits the attendees against orange cones on the road.

Basically, what we have to do is accelerate to a certain speed, do a quick lane change (to simulate avoiding a stationary object) and then braking. Some exercises make you steer twice meaning you probably have to steer left and then right or vice versa. I have done that with cars that are large sedans as well as smaller hatchbacks but when I performed that exercise with the Golf, it couldn’t have been any easier. All I needed to do was to just point my steering to which direction I would like it to go and the car just goes in that direction.

What I love about the car:

  • It’s agility and quick nimbleness
  • The silver colour side mirrors
  • The exhaust note (the very noticeable DSG “fart”)

What irks me about the car:

  • No semi bucket seats as standard
  • Increased in price over the previous Mk6 version


Overall it took me a while to get used to the new Mk7 Golf looks. The front is ok but it has the rear of a compressed face and that was what irks me the most. But the moment you climb into the car, the only time you have problems with it’s looks is that you see yourself in a reflection. The car is fast and nimble and the drive is so easy that just anyone can take it for a spin in B roads. But that’s the problem isn’t it? As a good friend of mine said to me, the car is great and plenty of electronics wizardry but what it lacks is soul. As much as I love this car, he may actually be right about that.

Specifications: VW Mk7 Golf R
Engine: 3rd Generation EA888 2.0 litre turbo direct petrol injection engine with start/stop system with regenerative braking system
Transmission: 6-speed DSG Wet clutch
Max power: 280ps @ 5700 – 6200 rpm
Max torque: 380Nm @ 1750-5600 rpm
Length/width/height (mm): 4276/1799/1436
Turning circle: 10.9m
Nett selling price***:  RM245,888 (3-door version) / RM285,888 (5-door version)

*** Price excluding registration and inspection fees, road tax, number plate and insurance may vary in Sabah & Sarawak.

More photos of the Golf R