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First drive: Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Image by Volkswagen.

First drive: Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet
Volkswagen gives the Golf Cabriolet a last hurrah with a range-topping R model, but the numbers just don't add up.

   



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| First Drive | Nice, France | Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet |

Overall rating: 3 3 3 3 3

The Golf R drops its roof to create a smart, fast range-topper for the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet line-up, but its lofty price pitches it up against some very serious opposition indeed.

Key Facts

Model tested: Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet
Pricing: 38,770
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed DSG automatic
Body style: two-door convertible
Rivals: Audi A3 Cabriolet, BMW 1 Series Convertible, Porsche Boxster
CO2 emissions: 190g/km
Combined economy: 34.4mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 6.4 seconds
Power: 265hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 350Nm at 2,500- to 5,000rpm

In the Metal: 4 4 4 4 4

R styling cues add real appeal to the already attractive looks of the Golf Cabriolet. A gloss black grille, framed by bi-xenon headlamps with LED running lights and a lower bumper that's unique to the R work well with the Golf Cabriolet's sharp lines. Side sill extensions, a rear under bumper in a diffuser style and smoked rear taillights with LEDs highlight this as the range-topping model in the open-topped Golf line-up.

Inside it's all familiar Golf fare, though R specification brings leather upholstered sports seats with contrasting stitching, a smattering of R badging, aluminium capped pedals and decorative inlays in the dash and door panels. As you'd expect it's all finely finished, R specification also bringing a more generous equipment count, including DAB audio with iPod connection and Bluetooth as standard.

Driving it: 3 3 3 3 3

Losing the four-wheel drive of its hatchback relation, due to the need for under body strengthening, a sizeable part of the Golf R's appeal has been lost. Lopping the roof off does add the element of open-air by way of compensation, but its front-wheel drive status does create a different driving experience. Unsurprisingly, with 265hp to deal with and no additional pair of wheels to direct power to the Golf R Cabriolet is a bit more unruly in delivering its power to the road. Ask for everything and there's some tug through the steering wheel as the front tyres struggle to contain the performance from the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. If the road is smooth it'll get you to 62mph in just 6.4 seconds, the elastic nature of the engine's delivery making it feel more enthusiastic in its mid range than at low revs. It does sound good, especially given it's turbocharged, the R's four having a soundtrack that's more multi-cylinder in its character, the deep, muscular resonance it emits unquestionably appealing - it's the only real incentive to push the engine hard.

For its promise of performance it's all a little bit ordinary. The steering delivers little in the way of feel; the chassis is capable, but anodyne; grip levels are high; and the gearshift slick. Too much polish then, the R feeling very mature and grown up, rather than tempestuous and exciting, which, given its billing as the fastest Golf Cabriolet, is a problem. The ride is composed, if slightly brittle over nasty surfaces, and the body feels commendably stiff, but it delivers very little over its Golf GTI Cabriolet relation - except a more impressive set of numbers.

What you get for your Money: 4 4 4 4 4

At a whopping 38,770 this is a Golf that mixes it with some very desirable open-topped rivals, that list price pitching it at a level where you could conceivably get into a new Porsche Boxster. Sure, the Porsche lacks the four seats of the Volkswagen, and you'd need to spend a good deal of time and money on the options list to get close to the Golf's standard kit list, but the Porsche utterly eclipses it on the road. If four seats are a must then your 38,770 would also get you in a number of Audi and BMW open-topped alternatives, albeit without the R's outright performance, but with far more cachet. You could also save 8,000 by having a Golf GTI Cabriolet with the optional DSG transmission - and have no less fun.

Worth Noting

Perhaps in recognition of the above Volkswagen only anticipates selling 80-100 Golf R Cabriolets in a full year. It can be considered something of a fast farewell to the current Golf Cabriolet too, as Volkswagen is anticipated to introduce a new Golf 7-based model in the next twelve to eighteen months.

Summary

Topping the Golf Cabriolet range the R model was always going to have a battle justifying its existence over the already enjoyable GTI Cabriolet - and premium badged alternatives. It's a difficult sell, made more so by the loss of the hatchback's USP - the four-wheel drive transmission. It counters with open-air appeal and does look fantastic, but it's too rich a proposition for all but the most committed and deep-pocketed Volkswagen Golf fans.


Kyle Fortune - 20 Feb 2013



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2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Image by Volkswagen.2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Image by Volkswagen.2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Image by Volkswagen.2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Image by Volkswagen.2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Image by Volkswagen.

2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Image by Volkswagen.2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Image by Volkswagen.2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Image by Volkswagen.2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Image by Volkswagen.2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Image by Volkswagen.



2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Image by Volkswagen.
 

2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet. Image by Volkswagen.
 






 

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