Volkswagen has delivered a killer blow to to the hot hatch market, setting a new entry price point for the all-wheel drive Golf R that sees it undercut front-wheel drive competitors like the Honda Civic Type R and Peugeot 308 GTi 270.
Volkswagen Australia’s general manager of product planning Ben Wilks announced the new base model, to be called the Golf R Grid, at a media breifing held during the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany with a confirmed $47,490 plus on road cost price when fitted with a six-speed manual - a substantial $5500 less than the regular Golf R.
From there buyers can add a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission for a further $2500 while a Golf R Grid wagon will also be available exclusively with a DSG automatic for $51,990 plus on road costs.
“This is the real thing in terms of Golf R, so it’s the full performance of the Golf R, the same 213 kilowatts as the recently released 7.5 but a slightly different take on Golf R,” Mr Wilks said.
In order to get the price down, the Golf R Grid has had to sacrifice some standard equipment, though the losses have been relatively minor. The regular R’s Active Info Display TFT instrument cluster has been replaced by regular gauges, the infotainment system drops from 9.2 inches to 8.0 inches, and a cloth and Alcantara upholstery sits in for leather trim.
Otherwise the Golf R Grid keeps the same high-output 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 213kW and 380Nm and the Grid models retain adaptive dampers and 19-inch alloy wheels.
The new price sees the Golf R undercut the $50,990 sticker of the 228kW/400Nm Honda Civic Type R, and $49,990 Peugeot 308 GTi 270 with its 200kW and 330Nm 1.6-litre engine, with the closest all-wheel drive competitor being the Ford Focus RS at $50,990 but with a more powerful 257kW/440Nm engine. None of those competitors yet offer an automatic either, making the Golf R somewhat unique.
Externally the only identifier for the Grid models will be a set of black mirror housings, and on the wagon a matching set of black roof rails.
"There’s an exciting opportunity with the position of Golf R, it really will come into quite a sweet spot in the market. We want Golf R to really be as strong in name as GTI is today. I think that opportunity exists there.” Wilks said of the new variant.
As well as providing a lower price of entry to the Golf R range, the new model has also helped Volkswagen Australia to boost its factory allocation to help keep up with demand for the R family which now includes Grid, regular R, and Wolfsburg variants.
The Golf R Grid is available to order, with the first customer cars expected to be available from November.
NOTE: Regular Golf R pictured