2014 Volkswagen Golf R tested on track

The hottest Golf is now here, have your cheque books at the ready this one will go fast!

By Shahzad Sheikh

2014 Volkswagen Golf R launch at Dubai Autodrome

The most important fact in this review of the all-new 2014 Volkswagen Golf R is the one I’m about to give you right now – the price. AED149,900.

Whoops! Sorry. I should have warned you to sit down first, hope the bump on your head doesn’t hurt too much. Don’t look at the screen like that – all aghast. And do pull your jaw back up, I can smell your last meal!

It’s true though. I wasn’t just using an editorial tactic to get you hooked into reading this. That’s the retail price as given to me by the boss of VW Middle East.

So whilst’ some of you may bemoan the fact that the Golf R we’ll get here will be 280bhp instead of the European-spec 296bhp (which is the one I drove – picture my smug mug now). But look at it this way: you’re more than 60bhp up on the Golf GTI for only an extra AED20,000 – the GTI tops out at AED130,000.

2014 Volkswagen Golf R launch at Dubai Autodrome

Now that’s bargain bhp for your bucks in VW world, and that’s before you factor in 4MOTION all-wheel drive, the 20mm lower ride height (5mm lower than the GTI), new steering, bespoke bumpers, side sills and 18-inch ‘Cadiz’ alloys shod with 225/40 R tyres, carbon interior trim and loads of R badges.

And the performance: this thing will charge to 100kph from rest in just 5.0 seconds (1.5 seconds quicker than a GTI) and hit a top speed of 250kph – GTI tops out at 244kph.

Granted, despite its four chrome-tipped tailpipes, if you were expecting a beefier more aggressive stance from the R, you won’t get it. In fact the GTI remains the more overtly styled car with the Wolverine-style claws on the lower front bumpers, here you just get larger air inlets with a single fin.

2014 Volkswagen Golf R launch at Dubai Autodrome

So the R is going more ‘Q-car’ than the boy-racer GTI it seems. This is, then the grown-up Golf sporty hatch. Delete the ‘R’ badges from the outside, and prepare to go give Ferrari’s and Lambos a bit of a shock!

The performance combined with the fast 6-speed DSG double-clutch gearbox and the grippy all-wheel drive should be a stunning and effective combination on the road. This is a car that deserves a full and proper long run up into the UAE mountains for a full test, and we hope to bring you that soon.

Meanwhile this launch gave us an opportunity to take the car for a few laps around the Dubai Autodrome’s tight Club Circuit and I tried it over two sessions of over four laps each.

2014 Volkswagen Golf R launch at Dubai Autodrome

As you’d expect it’s a torquey a lusty motor which, allied to the four-wheel traction, eagerly catapults this thing forward and gets you up to astonishing speed very quickly indeed. The steering is faithful and response is great with decent feel too which allows you to input minor adjustments through the corners at speed. Naturally it has a tendency towards understeer, but you can balance it nicely on the throttle lifting off slightly to tuck the nose in tighter.

It can carry tremendous speed through the bends and instils a lot of confidence in the driver to push it harder than you might a two-wheel drive car.

So great grip, handling, poise and performance. Any criticisms? Yes, even putting the transmission in manual, it still second-guess you and changes up by itself, often at just the moment you engage the upshift-paddle so you end up with two instead of one upshift which of course ruins your lap if you’re on a circuit. Eventually I found it best to leave it alone for the upchanges, and just bang in the downshifts myself.

2014 Volkswagen Golf R launch at Dubai Autodrome

The car encourages drivers to push it hard, and in fact overdrive it. The result of this became apparent in the following session as the brake fade and peddle mushiness made it a more alarming proposition to take around the track at speed. The tyres too had started to go lose their adhesion.

Clearly a car that wants and rewards a smooth driver when it comes to circuit driving, another way in which it differs slightly from the GTI which begs to be thrashed.

This of course befits the R’s more mature personality and I suspect that whilst the GTI might be the more satisfying car to push around the Autodrome, the R will be the superior, faster and more efficient distance-demolisher when it comes to road driving.

As soon as we get a chance to confirm our initial thoughts – you’ll be the first to hear!

2014 Volkswagen Golf R launch at Dubai Autodrome

Volkswagen Golf R – The Specs

Price: AED149,900 ($41k)
Engine: 2.0 TSI Turbo four-cylinder, 280bhp @ 5500-6200rpm, 280lb ft @ 1800-5500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch automatic, Haldex 4Motion All-wheel drive
Fuel Economy: 7.5L/100km
Performance: 0-100kph 5.0 seconds, Top speed 250kph
Weight: 1499kg

[Read the Golf GTI review here]

Why do we get less horsepower here for the Golf R?

[UPDATE 27 March 2014] For those readers who have been asking why we get reduced horsepower for our region, here is the official response from Volkswagen Middle East:

‘The 20 hp difference is as a result of the super hot country classification. The difference in hp allows for better vehicle performance and reliability due to the conditions we experience in this region during the summer months.’

Let us know what you think of the new Golf R and that price below

20 responses to “2014 Volkswagen Golf R tested on track”

  1. Kareem says:

    Great Feedback and Quick News 🙂

    i believe that mesmerizing price for the R is the price for the “Basic” R , with no SAT/NAV , no leather Seats and 18s? More importantly , have they revealed the time of official first delivery?

  2. Ryan says:

    Awesome! Only if VW Middle East didn’t use the price factor to market the car. Al Naboodah held a first look meet at their showroom in Dubai and the MK7 Golf R starts for AED 152,000 up until AED 169,000.

    I’m not sure if you’re aware of aftermarket ECU remaps and how popular they have become in the UAE. A simple reflash gets you at least 48 horsepower on crank for the GTI. The price of the R is not justified on track and spec wise; sadly in the UAE we still get the same options on the MK7 as the ones we had on the previous model (Even with a smaller screen this time around).

    Don’t get me started on the service we get from the dealer…

  3. Ironman says:

    Kudos to VW for launching the Golf R at that price tag.. A lot of happy VW fans out here now, I assure you.

    The Nav is a bummer but dont need leather seats on which your gonna be tossed around side to side when negotiating high speed turns.

  4. John says:

    *Your in the title

  5. Moe says:

    Thanks for the update on why they’ve reduced the horsepower here. But isn’t it true that the hot air here will only reduce the car’s power even further meaning we will get a far less powerful car than Europe, not just 20 but even more?

    Anyways what we should really hope is that they don’t decide to push prices up the way Vauxhall months after their hot hatch launched.

  6. Omar Helmy says:

    Ok two questions:
    1. why don’t a Subaru WRX or a Mitsubishi EVO get a similar power reduction figure? They are both similarly powered, turbo charged engines. Can’t a bigger intercooler/radiator deal with the extra heat here?
    2. Does an ECU remap void the dealer warranty?

    (a 2014 GTI owner)

    • admin says:

      [Imthishan] Only speculation on my part Essa, but I suspect that the Evo and the WRX *are* providing reduced power outputs here – there’s just no way that their turbocharged engines are unaffected by the extreme temperatures in the region. Regardless of the radiator or intercooler size, every force-inducted vehicle has issues with heat here – up to and including the mighty Veyron. It’s the nature of the region, also why it’s so popular for hot weather testing.

      Regarding ECU remaps, they almost certainly void both your dealer and manufacturer warranties. Proceed with caution!

  7. Boxster says:

    The power is reduced to maintain engine and component life due to the GGC hot weather, as a result reducing early fatigue and thus warranty claims.

    Just for info, remaping is possible and will not void warranty if you approach ABT through Ali & Sons.

  8. Rashed says:

    Only if VW Middle East didn’t use the price factor to market the car.The official price ( AL Nabooda ) is starting from 152K – 185K AED , which is higher than the identicated price.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Rashed. We were told the starting price would be 149k. Are there extra options added to the 152k car? Did the salesman indicate that?

  9. Jan-Peter says:


    does anyone knows which time the car will be available in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi and Dubai?


  10. Pat says:

    A friend has just bought this, 149 is applicable to the first 10 cars sold only apparently on the base model

  11. Sultan says:

    I booked full option golf R 174,000

    As per the dealer it will reach august second week

    But with 280hp hope i will try it for a week if i didnt like it
    I will sell it

  12. Bu Sultan says:

    Hey Sultan bro,

    I also booked full option Golf R (5000 AED deposit) from the dealer about 3 months ago and I was told the price is 179,900 AED.

    I asked the dealer to inform me for a test drive but until now no news.

    Which color did you choose?

    • sultan says:

      hi bu sultan,

      I’ve booked the blue color which comes only for Golf R .

      full option i think it was 174k.

      but they have released the specification golf R by Al Naboooda

      0-100 km/h 5.5 sec and 188 kW which is bad same old Golf 6R

    • Abou Rafi says:

      Please i wanna ask if already bought the Golf R, because I’m thinking to buy a second hand one, and i wanna know what are the common issues in this car

  13. Pavan says:

    Hello All – just test drove the 2014 VW Golf R. One word on my experience – AMAZING! Couldn’t help but fall in love with the car..

    There are 3 variants namely Golf R-SE(154k), the SEL(168k) and Sport(179K). I drove the SEL option. This car is in heavy demand – I’d say if you’ve cash on hand rush to the nearest showroom and book it else, may get sold out.

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