Story by Emily Paton
What is there to choose between the
two top ends Golf’s?
Do you go for the iconic GTi
or the R flavour?
To a current GTi owner
this, in theory, points to
a better bang for your
buck, but is the R worth
the extra 23,000/- Dhs?
Volkswagen gives every Golf GTi buyer a major
headache: do I pay the extra to upgrade
to the R? Knowing that this dilemma is
haunting millions of drivers, Auto Trader grabbed
both of them and decided which one we wanted.
Our mind went straight to the new Direct
Shift Gear Box (DSG) option to see if it redressed
the balance and original criticism that the Golf R
had only previously been available with a manual
6 speed gear box. Can it convince confirmed GTI
owners that the R was worth the extra money.
I’m behind the wheel of the R first. If you look
at the stats, the GTi gives the R a 56-bhp advantage.
The R is also All Wheel Drive, has a stiffer
chasis, 25mm lower to the deck suspension which
translates into enhanced road holding ability
and more power. To a current GTi owner this, in
theory, points to a better bang for your buck, but
is the R worth the extra 23,000/- Dhs?
It’s true the R’s cornering ability is improved
because the GTi creates more roll from its front
wheel drive and its increased power is undeniable
especially at speed. Acceleration on the R is
smooth and the turbo lag is not as apparent as
in the GTi, which, when you first drive, can take
you by surprise. Even the exhaust seems a touch
muted as if VW wanted to highlight the more sophisticated
qualities of the R. However it must be
asked if the extra weight from the AWD leaches
some of the horsepower gain and if the increase
in stability lends the R a manner reminiscent of a
more regular member of the VW family.
The interiors of the GTi and R are comparable;
they have both been styled superbly with
racy leather and aluminum trim, signature logos
on headrests and a steering wheel that does
everything. It’s indisputable that both cars exude a
menacing poise, but the R has a more subtle edge
to it than the GTi.
So would you upgrade? The big question: is
what the R delivers worth the extra money? The
GTi looks and feels aggressive, a car that has its
quirks. It can surprise you and fight you, but overall
it delivers a great driving experience. Any wayward
tendencies can be tamed, mastered and in the
end become part of its essential charm. The GTi
is a car that’s needs to be driven. The R packs a
similar power punch but more so in ‘Sports’ mode
and unfortunately this goes hand in hand with
decreased fuel efficiency. In ‘Drive’ it produces a
more comfortable and sensible experience where
the car is definitely under the control of the driver.
I argue that the extra Dirhams should be
decided on the wants and needs of the individual
driver. If you are expecting the extra money to
get you 23,000/- Dhs more of GTi hot-headed
distinctiveness, it won’t. The R is a fantastic car
but it is a very different beast and has been aimed,
intentionally or not, at a dissimilar and perhaps
more level-headed market.
Verdict: I expected more for that extra cash
and didn’t feel it. Still the GTi for me.
The GTI looks
It can surprise
you and fight
you, but overall
it delivers a
tendencies can be
and in the end
become part of its