VW Golf R wagon

Piping-hot fun for the whole family

BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

FIRST OVERSEAS DRIVE

QUIZ time: How many wagons can hit 100km/h in 5.1 seconds or less?

Answer: just seven: Audi’s S4, RS4 and RS6 Avants, the Ferrari FF, HSV Clubsport Tourer, Mercedes CLS500 and Volvo V60 Polestar. Only one – the HSV – costs less than $100K.

Better make that two. VW is living up to its People’s Car claim with the first-ever Golf R Wagon, landing in October from an almost proletarian sub-$60K.

In essence it’s an R hatch with a 332mm-longer tail, which results in up to 1620 litres of useful luggage capacity. The newcomer can be picked by its R-specific alloys, rear bumper with diffuser, four exhaust pipes, D-pillar aero flaps and darker tail-lights.

Not to be confused with the Suzuki Wagon R, the R Wagon is nevertheless extremely, ah, swift courtesy of its 206kW/380Nm EA888 2.0-litre four-cylinder direct-injection turbo-petrol, combined with a six-speed dualclutch transmission. In Europe it delivers 221kW, but hot-weather market precautions mean ours is dialled back a little. Pity.

Still, given its head, the R Wagon is a beguiling all-weather grand tourer with a thrilling, shrilling edge. Calm and cultured as required for the comatose commute, the rev-hungry loadlugger roars off the line when prodded, the DSG switching ratios seamlessly, piling on speed with unassuming ease. Adding a sense of urgency is the exhaust’s cackling off-throttle burps.

As with the hatch, all four wheels drive via a Haldex coupling that distributes up to 99 percent of torque to whichever end – struts up front and a multi-link independent set-up at the back – needs maximum traction. Using the electronic stability-control system’s settings, electronic diff locks work in concert with midcorner braking tech to improve handling by quelling understeer.

Standard on Aussie R Wagons will be Dynamic Chassis Control with five modes – Eco, Comfort, Normal, Race and Individual (driver preferred). On a blast around Spain’s tricky Ascari circuit, the hot wagon carved through the tight bends with majestic composure, remaining flat and confident throughout.

The progressive-ratio steering is almost perfect while, thankfully, the high-performance ESC threshold can be extinguished altogether for lairy shenanigans.

Considering you’ll need to spend another $45K on a V60 Polestar to match its AWD performance, the Golf R wagon is seriously scintillating. And we’d actually prefer it over some of those other five-figure, sub-fivesecond superwagons. rk midraking g ard AussieRWagons

PLUS & MINUS

Wagon practicality; on practical ity; scorching AWD per forma nce and secur ity

R-rated pleasures

ALONG with serious speed, handling and roadholding attributes, the Golf R Wagon also brings sensible pleasures in the form of Alcantara/ cloth sports seats, climate control air-con, sat-nav and VW’s latest-gen multimedia touchscreen with Bluetooth audio and phone streaming connectivity. Plus, the rear seats split/fold to liberate up to 1831mm of luggage space loaded to the roof, so none of the family need miss out.