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Time to upgrade?
Golf R vs Golf GTi


Volkswagen

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 aggressive and feels aggressive.

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.

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