We think the Volkswagen Golf R is a good buy: its 213kW engine is shared with the Audi S3, it packs a slick six-speed manual (or seven-speed DSG auto), and its 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system makes for tenacious corner-carving prowess, and the interior includes plenty of luxurious touches. It’s a lot of car for $52,990, or $55,490 for the dual-clutch.
However, with the standard Golf R featuring arguably unnecessary niceties like heated leather seats – the driver’s pew featuring memory and electric adjustment – and a 9.2-inch infotainment screen paired to a 12-inch digital driver’s display, there is probably fat there that can be cut.
And that’s what Volkswagen are setting out to do, with Ben Wilks, the brand’s Australian general manager of marketing and product, telling Chasing Cars that his goal is “to allow more people to have the Performance Golf experience.” Part of a salvo of lower-cost Golf GTI and Golf R models, one of the first out of the blocks will be the 2018 Volkswagen Golf R Grid Edition, a less luxurious and more focussed version of the R. The Grid will be “the most attainable Golf R ever”, listing at under $50,000, when it arrives before Christmas 2017. The Grid will be available in hatch or wagon form.
Wilks shared that the Grid “retains everything it needs from the Golf R performance wise, but nothing it doesn’t”, hinting the Grid will be mechanically unchanged, but will see those interior comforts scaled back.
Leather might remain, but we’d put our money on manually-adjustable Alcantara-mix sports seats, and a downgrade to Volkswagen’s (still good) 8-inch navigation screen. Also, the Grid Edition will almost certainly lose the R’s Active Info Display in favour of traditional analogue dials.
But the Grid Edition won’t go manual-only to save cost. Volkswagen Australia have confirmed that the Grid’s 0-100km/h sprint can be dispatched in 4.8 seconds, which matches exactly to the standard Golf R DSG’s time. In contrast, the six-speed manual can achieve the 0-100km/h run in 5.2 seconds.
Naturally, 4MOTION all-wheel-drive will be staying and in a surprising move, so too will the Golf R’s 19-inch ‘Spielberg’ wheels: the same ‘rotating angle’ wheels specified on the full-fat Golf R.
Pricing and exact specification on the Golf R Grid is yet to be confirmed for Australia. If we had to guess, we’d estimate pricing around $47,000 for the manual and $49,000 for the DSG. We’ll know closer to the car’s arrival around December.