Long Term Review: 2017 Golf R mk7.5
My review after 4 years of ownership, why i picked it and why i sold it.
This is a writeup on my experience of ownership so ill start off with what i owned before it and what it had to live up too, a 2015 stage 2 ford fiesta ST in Molten orange. I had been a life long ford fan since the age of about 14 when i watched a brand new ultimate green mk2 focus RS blast away from a set of traffic lights, this led me into my first 4 cars all being Fords.
Fast forward life to my American wife passing her UK test in auto only and the dream of a mk3 focus RS died (at least for the time being), on the search for an automatic daily hot hatch the obvious choices were the Golf R and GTI, after a test drive of both, the power of the R instantly won me over and the order was placed.
So what's it like to drive?
As a Daily driver its about as perfect as they come, it has the power and handling when you want it, when you're heading out with passengers onboard selecting the comfort mode makes the DCC (dynamic chassis control) option worth its weight in gold as the ride supples up and rides even better than a normal golf would, this option also opens up the possibility of customising your driving mode which i drove in almost every time as you could set the dampers in comfort but steering in normal or race for the bumpier back roads.
As a Fast road car its definitely up there for pace, it covers ground alarmingly fast and disguises its speed well until you look down at the speedometer. I'm sure many of you have seen track tests that involve the golf R and it would often lose on lap times to the likes of the Leon Cupra or focus RS but here's the thing, if you want a track car there's plenty of better choices than a hatchback, the Golf R hits the balance perfectly for a fast road car that can soak up our bumpy British roads and deploy all its power out of a greasy or damp corner as our roads often are for 8 or 9 months of the year.
Its downfalls as a driving experience is whilst it does have some steering feel, its not the best, its not very playful and many would dub the drive as boring. The pumped in exhaust sound from the soundaktor is a fake sound although it sounds decent it isn't the true noise of the car and many owners disconnected it all together (including me) as they suffered from terrible vibrations behind the dashboard but once disconnected the car is so quiet it could almost be a hybrid. The brakes are pretty good... for about 5 minutes and then they begin to fade, a 2 piston calliper on a 306bhp 1500kg performance car isn't really acceptable in my opinion. In manual mode the DSG box will upshift for you, and many a time I've tried to shift up a gear whilst pushing on for it to shift up itself and then shift again from my input.
This part of the car is a big win in my opinion, i prefer it over all of its rivals, i actually sat in a mk3 focus rs at a car show after purchasing my golf and realised how cheap and plasticky the fords interior was. The golfs layout all makes sense as everything is easy to find and control and the digital display was excellent, the only gripe I had was the mode button was on the other side of the gear selector which would make it annoying to try and change modes whilst looking at the road ahead. The leather seats were comfortable and heated up quickly, the rear legroom left a lot to desire though, the boot was a tiny 310litres & felt less usable than the boot in the previous fiesta I had.
Over the 4 years i owned it i averaged 28mpg from a mixture of A and b roads really with the occasional drive into town, it didn't see much motorway except for holidays but when it did 40+mpg was always achievable with my highest being 45.4mpg over 157 miles
Servicing wasn't too expensive, the first 2 were done by vw in their service plan with the 3rd £150)and 4th (£350) at specialists, the Haldex system should be cleaned every year by a specialist as they suffer from a build-up of particles in the filter that VW don't recognise as a serviceable item, this will slowly stop the awd haldex system from working properly.
With the above downfalls noted, the first upgrade i made was a Milltek non resonated but valved exhaust, this was a much louder system that really improved the driving experience with plenty of natural crackles and the odd loud pop on the exhaust (no pop and bang map here!)shut the valves and it cruised in 7th gear without any booming.
Next came a Racingline Stage 1 remap for the engine and a TCU tune for the gearbox upping clamping pressure for the clutches and increasing power to the region of 380bhp and 360lbft, it now truly flew, as fast as it needed to be for a road hence why i never did spend the extra going for more power and instead chose to upgrade the brakes to Racingline's 4 pot Monoblock system, the pedal was now firm and reassuring, the stopping power was brilliant and most importantly they never faded on me! A big thing for me in my decision for these brakes was the lightness of them, knowing I was unlikely to see a track in this car meant they needed to be capable for fast road driving, I didn't need giant 8 pot 390mm discs like many will pick for looks (they do look good though), the unsprung weight saving is underestimated by the average enthusiast with the ratio being about 1:8 for unsprung to sprung meaning these brakes were saving 8.4kg unsprung or an estimated equivalent of 50-60kg sprung weight.
I personally didn't feel the need for spring or coil over upgrades, it rode stiff enough in race mode and soft enough in comfort, i have no doubt they improve the drive but i wasn't chasing lap times on the road, just enjoyment. Common mods are a thicker rear ARB to help the car rotate on turn in, oil catch cans for track and Racingline springs or Bilstein coilovers for improved ride and cornering.
Why did i sell it?
After 4 years of ownership it never set a foot wrong, it did everything i asked of it in all weather be it snow or muddy fields camping it never got stuck or broke down. What i got a bit tired of was the terrible roads and traffic where I live, I began to not use it as a performance car anymore and just started pottering around, we started struggling to fit things in there and with the prospect of kids we knew we needed something bigger and sadly the time came...