Driving the Volkswagen Golf R-Line

The Volkswagen Golf R-Line

In my role as Marketing Manager for the Miles Motor Group, I’m fortunate enough to be able to drive a wide range of vehicles, such as this Volkswagen Golf R-Line, from multiple brands. In fact, just quietly, now that I’ve been in so many I think I’d find it impossible to buy a new car, and I don’t envy people that have to do that without having spent a good amount of time with a vehicle. Modern cars just have too much to learn about and appreciate!

That aside, I’m currently driving the seventh generation Golf R-Line (face-lifted in 2017), care of Miles Continental.

When our Sales Manager called me to let me know what he had lined-up, I was slightly nervous when he said:

I’ve got a Golf R-Line for you. It’s yellow. But, if it helps, I like it.

Another reason for my hesitation was that he’d be taking me out of my current driver, the Volkswagen Tiguan Highline; a car I’d been enjoying that has a lot of top-level Volkswagen equipment, such as their digital dashboard, the Active Info Display.

Luckily, the Golf R-Line actually looks stunning in this colour. Called ‘Turmeric’ (my 3 year old keeps shouting ‘No, it’s yellow!’) it’s a cross between gold and yellow… OK, that sounds pretty disgusting… but once you’ve seen it and spent some time with it, you really come to appreciate it! While we’re here, my son’s massive car seat fits just fine in the rear, with the most easily accessible ISOFIX mounting points I’ve ever come across.

Sporty styling features of the VW Golf R-Line in Turmeric

A big thing for me, and something that you wouldn’t get with the Comfortline or Highline models, is that the R-Line’s added styling and aerodynamic features – glossy piano-black spoilers and side-skirts plus silver trim on things like the trapezoidal exhausts – really set off the ‘Turmeric’ colour. Given that the R-Line is for those who appreciate a little extra sporty style, it’s also particularly appealing to have something that stands out from the masses of white and grey cars on the road, plus it almost feels too easy to go with a black car if you’re after something that looks badass (although as I’m writing this, I’m also thinking about how hot this would look in white with those black details… See – this is why I’d have such a hard time buying a new car!).

Still, it’s certainly very eye-catching (I’m trying to avoid the ‘head-turner’ cliché) and while I was at the park yesterday I kept looking back at the Golf, colours gleaming in the setting sun. It’s also turned a few heads (crap, I said it) on our street, with one neighbour asking ‘Did you win the lottery?’

Rear features and exhaust of the Golf R-Line

Golf range pricing

In a sense, that ‘did you win the lottery’ impression of top-end quality is what makes the Golf R-Line so special in the current Golf line-up. Going purely by value and limiting to hatchback, the range opens with the Comfortline TSI manual at $34,990 plus on road costs (a very competitive price for what is – at the end of the day – a premium German-engineered vehicle), and peaks at the highly desirable Golf R at $74,990.

The petrol Golf R-Line DSG at $44,990 sits just above – as-near-as-makes-no-difference – the diesel Highline DSG at $44,490. To compare more accurately, you’d probably be looking at the petrol Highline DSG at $41,990 with the same engine, making the R-Line an extra $3,000.

If you’re like me back when I started with the group, you’d be forgiven for getting confused about the ‘R’ and ‘R-Line’ names. In fact, I posted this on Instagram and had a good question from automotive photographer, EJ Kim, on this subject.

@ejkim89 Question: Is R-Line same as the hot hatch Golf R? Or is it like Audi’s S series vs S-Line range?

@marklincoln @ejkim89 good question! I was confused when I first started with the group. The Golf R-Line is a fair bit different to the Golf R. R-Line is closer to a ‘regular’ Golf with some extra kit, particularly in the styling department. Meanwhile, the Golf R is an absolute beast. It’s the top of the food chain for Golf in New Zealand – higher performance than the Golf GTI and with some very nice – but very tasteful – styling features. I’m a big fan of the Golf R. It’s exactly what you would choose if you wanted a very nice and powerful performance car but wanted to be discrete about it. I’d easily choose it as a daily driver (apparently Jeremy Clarkson has a Golf GTI as his daily driver!). This R-Line would be the choice if you didn’t have the budget for a GTI or Golf R but still wanted something with plenty of kit and a sporty edge.

Anyway, for that extra $3,000, you get:

  • sports suspension and gear shift paddles – I like these but do tend to hit them more by accident than on purpose.
  • dark red LED tail lamps with running indicators – I’m assuming that’s this is what Volkswagen call those ‘animated’ lights that race across the light in a Knight Rider fashion – very cool and in my mind totally worth the extra money on their own!
  • 65% light absorbing ‘privacy glass’ tinted windows in the rear – again, the black really setting off the colour of the vehicle, no matter which colour choice you go for
  • 18″ Sebring alloy wheels versus the Highline’s 17″ Dijon.

Further styling features include a special seat design with ‘Carbon Flag’ pattern and R-Line badging, more R-Line badging elsewhere (often mistaken for the ‘R’ badge on the front grille), a black interior headliner (I also really love this over the lighter roof lining colours), trapezoidal chrome trim rear bumper panel and a body-coloured R-Line real spoiler. You can see this comparison on the spec sheet.

Interior dashboard and steering wheel of the Golf R-Line

Options worth considering

The first option that I would personally consider would be the Active Info Display at $1,000 – Volkswagen’s digital dashboard, featuring a high resolution 12.3-inch digital instrument panel. Although, again, I’d probably have a hard time deciding whether to go for it or not. Like I said, I had this in the Tiguan and it’s exceptional – I love being able to customise the dials and particularly love the navigation map appearing as the background behind and between the two main dials. See roadworks ahead? Glance down and you’ll quickly be able to see if there’s an easy route around the traffic jam using side streets. But… well, I have a digital smartwatch that I also really love and find very handy, but that doesn’t mean I don’t also love my more classic watches with precision, moving components, and the Volkswagen dials look so good with their sharp white-on-black features with a dash of red. Hmm.

The second option would be Volkswagen’s Park Assist, i.e. automatic ‘self-parking’ for both parallel and perpendicular (forwards and reverse) parking. I’m pretty comfortable when it comes to parking, but at just $750 this feels like a really advanced feature that is very much a ‘nice to have’. It’s so easy to use that you find yourself using it just for kicks, it’s a nice talking point when showing other people your car, and it’s a stand-out feature when the time comes to sell, adding to the resale value over similar cars that don’t drive themselves.

One thing I was particularly glad to see as standard is Volkswagen’s Adaptive Cruise Control. This is, without doubt, my favourite feature of Volkswagen vehicles. In a nutshell, it’s radar-controlled cruise control (auto-accelerating, decelerating and braking to keep pace with the vehicle in front) with the difference being that it operates down to 0 km/h, unlike many competitor offerings. Seriously, I commute each day from Rangiora into Christchurch, and in some cases – when there’s average traffic – I haven’t needed to use the pedals from the moment I get on the motorway to the point where I hit the first t-junction at Bealey Avenue. It takes about a week of use to really get used to, but once you’ve got it sussed you just can’t appreciate how much more relaxed this makes your driving experience, especially in stop-start traffic.

Side shot of the Golf R-Line in Turmeric on the road

So, yup, even though this hatchback doesn’t have the same level of equipment as the Tiguan Highline I had previously, I’m quite enjoying its sporty appeal and almost go-kart like (another motoring cliché) handling.

I’ve been promised the new Tiguan Allspace for my next drive car – something which, as a family man, I’m very much looking forward to – but I’ll still have a touch of sadness when it comes to giving the keys to this sporty hatch back to our Sales Manager.

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