No aesthetic change for 2019 Golf R but it now packs a mightier punch. Picture: SUPPLIED
No aesthetic change for 2019 Golf R but it now packs a mightier punch. Picture: SUPPLIED

South African drivers can now buy a Golf R with the full quota of power from the 2.0l turbo petrol engine.

According to the company’s spokesperson, the decision was simply down to a change in the country’s status. With SA previously categorised as a hot climate country, the Volkswagen Auto Group has decided that Mzansi weather is now cool enough to allow the all-wheel drive Golf R to roam freely without an engine detune.

The new Golf R thus outputs the full 228kW and 400Nm that has been available all along to drivers in Europe — up from the 213kW and 380Nm that South African drivers have until now been restricted to.

Top speed is still governed at 250km/h and VW claims an unchanged time of 4.6 seconds for the 0-100km/h blitz, despite the mightier punch.

If you hurry, the first batch of cars has been shipped in with a new lightweight Akrapovic exhaust system included in the R676,000 price. Going forward, this exhaust system will be a R39,900 optional extra.

The car is also available with new high power brakes that are 2kg lighter than the standard stoppers.

Standard specification in this range-topping Golf includes LED headlamps, Park Distance Control, Active Info Display, a panoramic sunroof, 20cm touch screen media interface with app connect, and blind spot monitor with rear traffic alert. Furthermore the Golf R comes perched on 235/35 R19 alloy wheels as standard.

Additional features list carbon effect exterior mirrors, Nappa leather chairs, adaptive chassis control, radar cruise control, a more powerful sound system, blind sport monitor as well as the louder pipes and better brakes mentioned earlier. The titanium exhaust system will cost you R39,900 while the new brakes are priced at R9,900.

Akrapovic pipes easily indentified with porous metal surface or a new cracking explosion on up-changes. Picture: SUPPLIED
Akrapovic pipes easily indentified with porous metal surface or a new cracking explosion on up-changes. Picture: SUPPLIED

By my initial experience of a car fitted with both options, they are vital additions if you are committed to ragged-edge type driving styles. If you are not that kind of driver, the Golf R is still a mighty fine cruiser or daily driver, more so when equipped with the optional adaptive chassis and dialed into Eco or Comfort mode.

The suspension doesn’t crash much into road imperfections as you’d expect of a hot hatch and thankfully the exhaust system has a bi-modality which, when you’re not in the mood, helps reduce the pollution of Akrapovic noises filtering through into the cabin.    

Crucially the stuff that matters in the Golf R still feels great today and the new performance upgrades transform it into an epic road attack weapon. The exclusively fitted DSG is still a wonderfully tactile transmission and the driving position is spot on, the optioned sports seats being comfortable and supportive.

Steering responses may not be as precise as a Porsche but its communication was enough to inspire confidence to roar up and down Western Cape mountain passes.

Responses from the car fitted with adaptive chassis control, which stiffens the dampers, sees greater speeds carried into corners where its behaviour is solidly grounded but can understeer when pushed extremely hard onto bends. Tapping off the throttle corrects this and the balanced authority of its all-wheel drive underpinnings allows for an earlier jump back on the power pedal.

The stronger brakes do their job diligently too; robust and non-fading, they enable mind coolness to retard ever deeper and later into curves. Its plentiful grip, Akrapovic pipes and spirited engine lead you to just trust the new Golf R to enjoy that engine everywhere and anywhere.

The MY19 Golf R is priced at R676,000 with a three year/120,000km warranty, five year/90,000km service plan,  and 15,000km service intervals.