Now that we’re leaving the deep cold, it’s time to mirror the weather with the freeze-dry, pothole reality of owning a Golf R. Not everything is sunshine und lollipops.

We have all read the glowing reviews, the lukewarm, the indifferent – but those were press cars, driven/beaten for a week, and then discarded for the next new thing. Here’s my list of “what in the actual…why did you do it this way VW?” foibles in an otherwise great car.


1. I can’t fathom any good reason (yes, people pretend this is a sports car) for VW to have this car rev so high (approximately 2,400 RPM) at 100 km/h. The engine generates enough jam for it to be a few hundred RPM lower. Also, when in DSG-manual mode, there should be a big number somewhere showing you which gear you’re in, not the tiny one between the speedo and tach – which will disappear if you change the volume of the stereo using the steering wheel control.

2. By far the most annoying, not-even-a-cost-cutting-measure in this car is the lack of memory mirrors. Many VW Forum coders have figured out how to have the passenger mirror dip on reverse (to save you from curbing your wheels), but the fact that this isn’t enabled from the factory on both mirrors is a glaring omission. This is supposed to be a semi-luxury hatch. It should act like one. Maybe they saved it for S3 buyers.

3. Speaking of from the factory, there’s a nifty “Performance Monitor” available in the less expensive GTI, that should have been enabled on the R. Instead, we have a “Think Blue” eco monitor in the dashboard. Really? Eco monitor in your halo hot hatch? I feel that someone simply forgot to turn it on, and now VW doesn’t want to shoulder the cost to recode all the cars out there. Forum coders have managed to unlock something called the OffRoad instrumentation, but the Performance Monitor allegedly requires dealer intervention to activate. SMH.



4. In a world of cost cutting, we can all understand the omission of a spare tire. It’s not a big deal. However, if you want to have one? Going the official route, VW will happily charge you $433.00 for a donut spare. Four. Hundred. Thirty. Three. That’s not a typo. Why this is not a consumer part available to purchase at a reasonable price from VW directly is beyond me. One can go the route of a world supplier for around $140 USD, but with the shipping, customs, and exchange – that’s still a lot of Canadian pesos.

5. When ordered/purchased, the attractive Pretoria wheels were a design we were told was not an option. However, to secure another 600 units for the 2016 model year, VW Canada was told they would be ‘forced’ to use the Pretoria wheel at no extra cost. I’d wager that a good 90% of current R owners are grinding their teeth right now. I’m one of them.

Despite these annoyances – and to be clear, that’s all they are – this is a great car and a terrific value on the dollar. I enjoy every chance I get to go on an extended drive with it as my partner. Once the 2016 allocation is up, I can’t help but feel that VW will be revisiting the currency exchange for the 2017 model and adjusting the price accordingly.

Published on Mar 14, 2016
Composer, Producer and Pretengineer. Lover of music, movies and fancy beer. Also, rhymes, cars.