Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet first drive

Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet The Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet priced at £38,770 is not only the most expensive soft-top Golf ever but it’s also the fastest-ever open-top Golf with a top speed limited to 155mph and zero to 62mph taking just 6.4 seconds.

Only 100 units of this model are expected to be sold in a full year in the UK.

At the heart of this model is a 2.0-litre, 261bhp, 258lb ft of torque, four cylinder, turbocharged petrol unit fitted as standard with a six-speed DSG automatic transmission. This model is front wheel drive only, not the 4Motion system used for the Mk6 Golf R hatchback. The all wheel drivetrain could not be used because of the space taken up for the added strengthening needed in the platform of the Golf R Cabriolet.

Like its slower Golf Cabrio stablemates the R version has an electrically operated fabric roof which can be lowered in 9.0 seconds and raised in 11.0 seconds at speeds of up to 18mph. The Golf R Cabriolet has a bespoke design front bumper with glossy black grille and ‘R’ logo, LED daytime running lights, bi-xenon headlights, black painted brake callipers with ‘R’ logo, 19-inch alloy wheels, side sill extensions, a glossy black rear diffuser, chrome tailpipes for the two exhausts and a lowered suspension.

Inside the specification is high as it should be for the price with four individual leather upholstered seats, leather wrapped multi-function steering wheel, brushed aluminium pedals, DAB radio, Bluetooth preparation, air conditioning, electric windows, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers and a full complement of safety equipment including automatic roll-over protection.

With VW now underway selling the award winning Mk7 generation Golf hatchbacks, models such as the Mk6 Estates and Cabriolets now only have a limited life-span but it is usual for manufacturers to cross over two generations of volume selling models with niche selling versions. And they don’t come more niche than the Golf R Cabriolet. Just 100 affluent motoring enthusiast UK buyers will invest in one in a year and perhaps with two years left of production for this generation Golf Cabriolet that makes just 200 units will be in the UK, so rarity and exclusivity should keep the residual values high for enthusiast collectors.

Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet Volkswagen should be complimented on producing such a niche vehicle, rare these days for a volume manufacturer especially when new Golf models are starting to appear with the latest Mk7 bodyshell.

With front wheel drive only the 261bhp and 258lb ft of torque from 2,500 is punched out via the six-speed DSG twin clutch auto gearbox which is a smooth and responsive combination. Drive to the front wheels is done through and electronic differential which reduces torque-steer but doesn’t eliminate it all together and that actually adds to the driving character of the car. The R Cabriolet feels more agile and not weighed down by VW’s 4Motion all wheel drive system but it lacks the sure-footed grip during cornering.

Fast though it is with impressive acceleration, the four cylinder turbocharged engine and auto gearbox make it very useable in stop/start traffic and at low to mid range speeds. When unleashed on the open road the Cabrio shows a brisk pair of heels with 62mph coming up in 6.4 seconds with bags of punch to overtake slower moving traffic. Fuel economy isn’t its strongest feature though because although it’s officially 34.4mpg in the Combined Cycle my relatively short and gentle test drive resulted in a poor 29mpg. With CO2 emissions of 190g/km road tax is £475 in the First Year rate reducing to £260 for the second year onwards. Insurance too will be costly with a 39E group rating. But with its ‘heady’ purchase price the small matter of fuel, tax and insurance costs really are not going to worry would-be owners.

Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet In all other respects the Golf R Cabriolet is, apart from its premium quality interior and high specification, very much the same as less costly Golf soft-tops. The roof is easy to raise and lower and wind intrusion into the car isn’t too blustery except at very high speeds. With its lowered sports suspension the ride can be fidgety over rougher surfaces and there is a small amount of scuttle shake with the roof up or down.

Overall is a good-looker inside and out, and the owner will just know they have enough power and performance under their right foot to see off all most other cabriolet hatchbacks and a good few soft top sports cars as well. It might look good and drive really well but it just doesn’t look like good value-for-money at close to £39,000.

MILESTONES. Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet 2.0-litre TSI 2-Door. Price: £38,770. Engine/transmission: 2.0-litre, four cylinder turbocharged petrol, 2671bhp, 258lb ft of torque from 2,500rpm, 6-speed DSG auto gearbox with front wheel drive. Performance: 155mph restricted top speed, 0-62mph 6.4 seconds, 34.4mpg (29mpg on test), CO2 190g/km, VED road tax £475 First Year rate then £260 for the second year onwards. Insurance: 39E. For: Fast, luxurious, exclusivity value. Against: Expensive to buy and run, uses the previous generation Golf platform.  Miles Better News Agency

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