More to enjoy: 2022 Volkswagen Golf R wagon first drive review

a blue Volkswagen Golf R wagon on a rooftop carpark.

Craig Duff

Posted June 17, 2022


Station wagons are passé in Australia, but new vehicles like the new Volkswagen Golf R wagon highlight why they shouldn’t be.

Picture a Golf R hatch with a much bigger boot and you have the new Golf R wagon. It’s a case of performance meeting practicality.

With more space than many SUVs, a more composed drive courtesy of a lower ride height and far less inclination to roll over when hit from the side, wagons make a compelling case as the smart choice for those who need boot space.

That doesn’t cut the mustard with most buyers, who can’t see beyond higher drive position and more compact length of an SUV. It’s their loss.

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The VW Golf R wagon fuses a practical body shape with a potent turbocharged engine.
The quad tailpipes are one of the few indications this isn't your average lumbering wagon.
The Golf R wagon can ingest up to 611 litres of cargo and still carry five people.

How much does the VW Golf R wagon cost?

A sticker price of $68,990 works out to be $77,515 driveaway, according to the Volkswagen website.

That’s not cheap but you are buying a lot of car for the price. The majority of the Golf’s rivals actually come from the VW Group stable, from the Audi A4 2.0 45 TFSI quattro S-line at $76,000 plus on-road costs, to the VW Arteon Shooting Brake 2.0 206TSI R-line at $73,240 and the VW Passat 206TSI R-line at $67,690.

None of them are as quick as the Golf R. To get similar performance you need to buy an Audi S4 Avant with a list price of $107,500.

The Golf R wagon is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. Servicing intervals are annual or 15,000km and pre-paying for the first five visits costs $3,000.

There are only two options: a panoramic sunroof for $2,000 and a Harmon/Kardon sound system for $1,000.

Is the VW Golf R wagon safe?

ANCAP tested the VW Golf in 2019 and assessed it as a five-star vehicle. That rating applies to all Golf variants.

The Golf rated at 95 per cent for adult occupant protection, 89 per cent for child occupant protection, 76 per cent for vulnerable road users and 80 per cent for its safety assist features.

And there are a lot of safety features packed into the Golf R, from autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control.

 

A 10-inch infotainment touchscreen dispenses with physical buttons and dials for a multitude of menus.
Rear seat occupants have their own climate control and a pair of USB-C ports.
The driver's display can be configured in a variety of ways, all of which feature a prominent digital speedometer.

What’s the VW Golf R wagon like inside?

Step inside the Golf R wagon and there’s a lot to like. The seats are covered in leather and the front pair are power-operated, heated and ventilated.

The ambient lighting display has 30 colours to choose from and there are a pair of USB-C ports front and rear.

One of the highlights is the configurable 10.25-inch digital driver’s display. The resolution is sharp enough to impress gamers and the speedo and tacho location can be adjusted through a variety of modes.

The 10.0-inch infotainment display is just as crisp but will take time to learn where all the various settings reside in the extensive menus. Smart owners will map their most-used features onto the customisable home screen.

Space in the back is good, if not expansive and rear occupants have their own climate control settings.

Farther back, the boot is presumably the reason buyers paid a $3,000 premium over the Golf R hatch.

It is a cavernous receptacle with 1642 litres of available space when the rear seats are down. If you are carrying a full complement of passengers, there’s still 611 litres of luggage-loading room in the wagon’s default mode.

A cargo blind helps hide the contents from prying eyes when the wagon is parked.

What’s under the VW Golf R wagon’s bonnet?

The turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine is ostensibly the same as that found in the hatch, but the wagon uses a petrol particulate filter and consequently earns an extra 20Nm.

Outputs of 235kW and 420Nm are sent to all four wheels using a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and there’s a smart torque-vectoring rear differential that, depending on driving mode, can transfer all that torque to the back wheels.

Volkswagen quotes a (conservative) time to 100km/h of 4.9 seconds.

Is the VW Golf R wagon efficient?

Because of the aforementioned petrol particulate filter, the Golf R wagon doesn’t just have more power than the hatch, it also uses less fuel (go figure).

Claimed combined fuel consumption is 7.4 litres over 100km (down by 0.4 of a litre on the hatch), while urban driving will see fuel use climb to 9.2 litres/100km. We saw 8.3 litres during our time in the car, with the bulk of driving spent in the suburbs.

 

An all-wheel-drive system and smart electronics keeps the Golf R wagon anchored to the road.
There are only three exterior colours for the VW Golf R wagon: blue, white and black.
The VW Golf R wagon is appreciably bigger than the hatch but handles with just as much finesse.

How does the VW Golf R wagon drive?

If there was ever a sleeper performance vehicle, this is it. People don’t expect a wagon to accelerate with the alacrity of the Golf R and they certainly don’t anticipate it cornering as furiously as it is capable of.

While you get the exhilaration, it isn’t accompanied by a soundtrack. This is a stealth fighter, with no exhaust note to betray what’s under the bonnet.

That puts it in the crosshairs of families who need to transport the kids and prams/bikes/dogs around during the week without advertising to the neighbours they like to indulge in weekend sorties on the back roads.

The suspension is up to either task. Leave it in comfort and it will mask its performance bias by gently rolling over speed humps. Flick the drive mode to sport and the adaptive dampers toughen up to enable body roll-free cornering.

Australian vehicles have been factory specified with the R Performance pack as part of the default equipment. The added equipment includes the 19-inch alloy wheels and two additional drive modes, drift and special.

Drift speaks for itself, while VW says the special setting is “tuned to suit the bumps, undulations and corners of the Nürburgring-Nordschleife by incorporating more compliant damping with maximum powertrain performance”.

English translation: it’s perfect for Australian back roads.

Should I buy one?

Volkswagen’s Golf R wagon is aimed at a niche market: buyers who are discerning enough to appreciate the dynamic advantages of a low-slung vehicle and have a need for more space than the average driver.

If you fit the bill, the Golf R wagon will be an ideal fit in the family driveway.

 

The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit racv.com.au. As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s) issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.


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