Volkswagen Golf R
(2014 - 2020)

  • On paper, quite possibly all the car anyone would ever need.
  • Incredible dynamic performance.
  • All the practicality and liveability of a normal Golf.
  • Excellent levels of tech, equipment and safety.
  • Water pump failures to be expected.
  • Engine bay plastics can wear prematurely.
  • Can feel like driving a “normal” Golf when not being driven enthusiastically.
  • Many on the used market have been abused or poorly modified.
Overview

Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re already quite aware that the Volkswagen Golf R is the top of the range, most powerful Golf featuring all wheel drive, a powerful turbocharged 2.0 litre engine and the entire array of possible Golf features

However in this cheat sheet we’ll be focussing on the Mark 7 and Mark 7.5 generations of Golf R.

These generations of Golf R were available here in Australia from 2014 to 2020 and was available as either a 5-door hatch or as the impossibly cool 5-door wagon while in some international markets a 3-door hatch was available for those requiring sportier aesthetics.

In terms of updates, the 2014 to 2017 Mk7 received a minor update in 2015, however the more substantially updated Mk7.5 arrived from February of 2017.

This update substantially refreshed the cosmetics, features and tech while mechanically, not a whole lot changed with the engine however the dual clutch transmission was equipped with an extra cog, becoming a 7-speed over the Mk7’s 6-Speed.

In terms of trim levels across the Mk7 and 7.5 generations, even within the R family, there were a few.

From the option laden Wolfsburg to the pared down Grid Edition, to the very limited and Akrapovic titanium exhaust fitted Special edition to finally, and aptly named Final Edition.

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What goes wrong

There are reports that the rear doors are susceptible to leaking. This will be most noticeable in the rear footwell.

The Rear Wiper on the hatchbacks are known to squeak, this is fairly common and not really a major issue, just annoying.

The Front Radar Assist sensors can become glitchy, this is more sporadic however there have been a few reports of it being faulty.

Another less common problem is, when the heater for the Driver’s side mirror is turned up the glass can actually crack and then fall out of the mirror housing completely.

Inside, there are the odd reports of various electronic gremlins like buttons not working, window actuators playing up and infotainment systems freaking out however, these are not what we’d call common issues.

Mechanically, while the potential to make huge horsepower with only the addition of bolt on modifications and ECU re-calibration is incredibly easy, when pushed to their limits, all bets are off in terms of what can break.
However, when kept standard and cared for, the Golf R still reliable overall.

By far the most common and somewhat expensive fault is the water pump & thermostat module. They fail early and often. In some cases, the factory water pump is good for around 60,000km until it leaks. You could just consider it part of the normal servicing schedule, similar to a timing belt. The later models are proving to last longer and we have found some non-genuine replacement pumps can last longer than the VW OEM equipment.

The Golf R do on occasions have some PCV & evaporator complications however they tend not to clog up inlet tracts as they have direct & port injection.

Historically older Volkswagen Golf generations (Mk5 and 6) suffer from problems associated with feeble engine bay plastics (eg the water pump) so as they age this is also likely to be the case with the Mk7 and 7.5.

The DSG transmission receives plenty of criticism online however in the Golf R, the reality is if the transmission is serviced properly and on schedule, in a standard car, they are usually trouble free. They can suffer from some DSG position sensor & mechatronics issues but although again, not as common as the internet may lead you to believe.

It’s a similar story with the Haldex system (that’s the hydraulic device that controls the amount of torque transmitted to the rear wheels). If they’re serviced on time with the right oil, they are usually no problem either.

We need to emphasise that these are a high-performance car and servicing them properly is absolutely imperative, and if you’re looking at one make sure the previous owner has a well-documented service history.

It is also worth mentioning that although it’s a high-performance car, it follows pretty the same service schedule as an ordinary Volkswagen Golf so (excluding those extra water pumps), the servicing costs are much the same.

Finally something that you definitely should be aware of. Some owners modify the Golf R to extreme levels yet when it comes time to sell, un-modify them. By that we mean they return everything back to standard to make it easier to sell or trade. A good technician who knows the Golf R well can usually tell when things have been messed with so a pre-purchase inspection is absolutely critical and be sure to check all factory recalls have been addressed.

Model range, pricing & features

Grid Edition

  • Price when new: $47,490 - $51,990
  • Price used: $35,000 - $55,500

The cut priced Grid Edition was introduced in a bid to provide a cheaper entry point into the Golf R. The Grid Edition loses the leather upholstery, the driver’s digital instrument display and a smaller infotainment screen.

Standard Features:

19-inch alloy wheels
Metallic/pearl effect paint
Body coloured bumper bars
Body coloured side mirrors
Front spoiler
Side skirts
Rear spoiler
Privacy glass
Heat insulated glass
Stop/start system
Electric sterring system
Multi-link front & rear suspension
Larger brakes
Quad exhaust
5-star ANCAP safety rating (tested 2013)
7 airbags: driver and front passenger, driver’s knee, front side impact and full-length curtain airbags,
3-point (lap sash) seatbelt for all occupants
Height adjustable seatbelts for driver and front passenger
Seat pretensioners and load limiters for for driver and front passenger
ISOFIX points for all rear seats
Child seat anchor points
Seatbelt reminder for all seats
Active head restraints for driver and front passenger
Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
Electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD)
Brake assist
Electronic stability program (ESP)
Traction control
Electronic brake force distribution (EBD)
Anti-slip regulation (ASR)
Electronic differential lock (EDL)
Extended electronic differential lock (XDL)
Adaptive chassis control
Front and rear parking sensors
Front assist with pedestrian monitoring
Low-speed AEB
Fatigue detection
Multi-collision brake
LED headlights
Dynamic cornering headlights
Reversing camera with grid lines
Electrochromatic rear vision mirror
Dipping passenger’s side mirror
Kerb view on passenger’s side mirror
Electric side mirrors
Heated side mirrors
Electric windows – front and rear with auto up/down function for all windows
Up/down function for electric windows via key fob
Cruise control
Bi-xenon headlights
LED front fog lights
Rear Fog Lights
Automatic headlights
Coming/leaving home function
Daytime running lights (DRL)
Front LED reading lights (2) and rear passenger LED reading lights (2)
LED ambient lighting
Headlight washers
Rain sensing (auto) wipers
Rear wiper
Proximity entry
Push button start
Engine immobiliser
Alarm
Tachometer
Fuel gauge
Trip computer with colour display, screen transitions with animations, lap timer, trip time, trip length, average and current speed, average and current fuel consumption, distance till empty and outside temperature, digital clock, vehicle status, audio, telephone and navigation menus
Electromechnical handbrake
Power steering
Steering wheel – tilt (up/down) and telescopic (reach) adjust
Multi-functional leather sterring wheel
Leather gear knob and handbrake
Dual-zone climate control
Rear air vents
Pollen filter
Cloth & Alcantara upholstery
Manually adjustable driver’s and front passenger’s seat
Manual lumbar support adjustment for driver and front passenger
Adjustable side bolsters
8.0-inch Discover Pro touchscreen infotainment system
8-speaker sound system
AM/FM radio
CD player
MP3 compatibility
Bluetooth connectivity – phone and audio streaming
Satellite navigation
AUX (3.5mm) input
iPod connectivity
USB connectivity
SD card inputs
Front USB inputs
Front 12V power outlet
2x cup holders – front
2x cup holders – rear
Centre console storage
Glovebox
Front seat map pockets
Vanity mirror for driver and front passenger
60:40 rear folding seats
Cargo net
Luggage/load divider
Under floor storage
Front and rear carpets
First aid kit

R

  • Price when new: $51,990 - $58,490
  • Price used: $24,000 - $87,000

The R was released in April 2014 sporting a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4 cylinder engine mated to either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed DSG semi-automatic gearbox.

Key features included 5-star ANCAP safety rating, multiple airbags, bi-xenon headlights, rain sensing wipers and a 5.8-inch Discover Media infotainment system.

Mk. 7.5 updates included: low-speed AEB, fatigue detection, LED headlights, electric driver’s seat & lumbar support; 12.3 digital driver’s display and a larger 9.2-inch Discover Pro infotainment system.

Standard Features:

19-inch alloy wheels
Metallic/pearl effect paint
Body coloured bumper bars
Body coloured side mirrors
Front spoiler
Side skirts
Rear spoiler
Privacy glass
Heat insulated glass
Stop/start system
Electric sterring system
Multi-link front & rear suspension
Larger brakes
Quad exhuast
5-star ANCAP safety rating (tested 2013)
7 airbags: driver and front passenger, driver’s knee, front side impact and full-length curtain airbags,
3-point (lap sash) seatbelt for all occupants
Height adjustable seatbelts for driver and front passenger
Seat pretensioners and load limiters for for driver and front passenger
ISOFIX points for all rear seats
Child seat anchor points
Seatbelt reminder for all seats
Active head restraints for driver and front passenger
Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
Electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD)
Brake assist
Electronic stability program (ESP)
Traction control
Electronic brake force distribution (EBD)
Anti-slip regulation (ASR)
Electronic differential lock (EDL)
Extended electronic differential lock (XDL)
Adaptive chassis control
Front and rear parking sensors
Reversing camera with grid lines
Electrochromatic rear vision mirror
Dipping passenger’s side mirror
Kerb view on passenger’s side mirror
Electric side mirrors
Heated side mirrors
Electric windows – front and rear with auto up/down function for all windows
Up/down function for electric windows via key fob
Cruise control
Bi-xenon headlights
LED front fog lights
Rear Fog Lights
Automatic headlights
Coming/leaving home function
Daytime running lights (DRL)
Front LED reading lights (2) and rear passenger LED reading lights (2)
LED ambient lighting
Headlight washers
Rain sensing (auto) wipers
Rear wiper
Proximity entry
Push button start
Engine immobiliser
Alarm
Tachometer
Fuel gauge
Trip computer with colour display, screen transitions with animations, lap timer, trip time, trip length, average and current speed, average and current fuel consumption, distance till empty and outside temperature, digital clock, vehicle status, audio, telephone and navigation menus
Electromechnical handbrake
Power steering
Steering wheel – tilt (up/down) and telescopic (reach) adjust
Multi-functional leather sterring wheel
Leather gear knob and handbrake
Dual-zone climate control
Rear air vents
Pollen filter
Race/Alcantara upholstery
Manually adjustable driver’s and front passenger’s seat
Manual lumbar support adjustment for driver and front passenger
Adjustable side bolsters
5.8-inch Discover Media touchscreen infotainment system
8-speaker sound system
AM/FM radio
CD player
MP3 compatibility
Bluetooth connectivity – phone and audio streaming
Satellite navigation
AUX (3.5mm) input
iPod connectivity
USB connectivity
SD card inputs
Front USB inputs
Front 12V power outlet
2x cup holders – front
2x cup holders – rear
Centre console storage
Glovebox
Front seat map pockets
Vanity mirror for driver and front passenger
60:40 rear folding seats
Cargo net
Luggage/load divider
Under floor storage
Front and rear carpets
First aid kit

MY16 updates:

Vienna leather upholstery
Heated front seats
6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system
Apple CarPlay – wired
Android Auto- wired

Mk. 7.5 updates:

Front assist with pedestrian monitoring
Low-speed AEB
Fatigue detection
Multi-collision brake
LED headlights
Dyanmic cornering headlights
Electrically side folding and heated side mirrors
Electrically adjustable driver’s seat
Electrically adjustable lumbar support
Driver’s seat memory
12.3-inch digital instrument cluster/driver’s display
9.2-inch touchscreen Discover Pro infotainment system
Satellite navigation

Wolfsburg Edition

  • Price when new: $56,990 - $59,990
  • Price used: $34,000 - $57,000

The Wolfsburg Edition was a limited edition model released in July 2015, and added the driver assistance package, carbon nappa leather upholstery and black alloy wheels. An updated special edition model was also released in 2017.

Additional Features:

19-inch “Pretoria” black alloy wheels
“Wolfsburg” crest badge
Front assist with low speed AEB
Adaptive cruise control
Protective occupant protection system
Blind spot monitor
Rear traffic alert
“Carbon” Nappa leather upholstery
Heated front seats

2017 Mk. 7.5 edition:

19-inch Pretoria alloy wheels
Carbon-fibre exterior mirror caps
Adaptive cruise control
Lane assist and departure warning
Blind spot monitoring
Rear traffic alert
Park assist
Dynamic light assist
Caron nappa leather seat upholstery
400W 10-speaker Dynaudio premium sound system

Special Edition

  • Price when new: $61,990
  • Price used: $45,000 - $75,000

In August 2018, a Special Edition model was released in hatch and wagon format, and added performance upgrades as well as a premium audio system.

Additional Features:

R performance exhaust
Cross-drilled front brake discs
19-inch Pretoria alloy wheels
400W 10-speaker Dynaudio premium sound system

Final Edition

  • Price when new: $57,990
  • Price used: $58,000 - $80,000

The Final Edition was a special edition model released in June 2020 prior to the Mk. 8 R replacement. 450 units were produced and included black alloy wheels, R Final Edition badging, 10-speaker Dynaudio sound system and Nappa Leather.

Additional Features:

19-inch Pretoria alloy wheels
Gloss Black door mirrors
R Final Edition badge
Carbon-fibre exterior mirror caps
400W 10-speaker Dynaudio premium sound system
Caron nappa leather seat upholstery

Should you buy it?

We need to talk about you in a moment however in terms of the car itself, if nothing goes wrong, the Golf R might very well be about as close to perfect as a used car can be, especially in wagon form.

But notice how we commented, “if nothing goes wrong”? Because that’s the Golf R’s achilles heel.

Chances are a thoroughly maintained and cared for Golf R shouldn’t give you many dramas and as long as you know and are financially and mentally prepared for the inevitable issues like the water pump problems, yes you should buy one because the Golf R is a phenomenal car, they’re not perfect but they are very close to it.

However do not buy a heavily modified and therefore most likely abused Golf R, or any that have question marks surrounding their service histories, or any that you even suspect may have been neglected in any way, as the risk of major mechanical issues are just far too high, as are the costs involved in repairing them.

Then we come to you. If your levels of self discipline leave a lot to be desired, and you value your licence, maybe do not buy a Golf R, they are so effortlessly fast, you will get yourself into trouble.

Finally, if you desire a car that just feels special and engaging all of the time, we’d question buying a Golf R because for the 90% of the time that you’re driving like a socially responsible member of the community, they tend to feel like driving pretty much any other Golf.

If that’s a good or a bad thing is totally up to you but for us, it’s just a little disappointing.

Warranty & servicing

Warranty:

3 years/100,000kms
5 years/unlimited kms (From January 2019)

Servicing:

12 months/15,000kms

Tech specs

Body style:

5-door hatchback
5-door wagon (estate)

Engines:

2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol (CJXB) – Mk. 7
2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol (DJHB) – Mk. 7.5

Power:

206kW – 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol (CJXB) – Mk. 7
213kW – 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol (DJHB) – Mk. 7.5

Torque:

380Nm 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol (CJXB) – Mk. 7
380Nm – 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol (DJHB) – Mk. 7.5

Transmission & drivetrains:

6-speed manual, all-wheel drive (AWD)
6-speed DSG semi-automatic, all-wheel drive (AWD) – Mk. 7.0
7-speed DSG semi-automatic, all-wheel drive (AWD) – Mk. 7.5

Fuel consumption:

7.1 – 8.0L/100km

Length:

4264mm (hatchback)
4580mm (estate)

Width:

1799mm (hatchback)
1757mm (estate)

Height:

1436 – 1442mm (hatchback)
1447mm (estate)

Kerb Weight:

1401 – 1500kg

Disclaimer

Information correct as of October 07, 2022.

The advice provided on this website is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

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