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RedRobin

First impressions of a Mk5 R32 by a GTI driver...

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I arrived at the VW dealers to see their demo Steel Grey Mk5 R32 parked outside....a 3-dr manual version. I had read absolutely everything I could find about the new .:R and also trawled the internet and magazines for pictures and reviews. More importantly than that, I read and discussed much in the R32 forum where real-world hands-on drivers can be found - Tyresmoke at its best. So what was my very first impression on walking around the car? - Solid and well built but....Very ordinairy and without anything to make me go "Wow!! I fancy her!" Whereas Steel Grey really suits the GTI it didn't look very special on the R32 and I imagine that those rich blues are the colours which show the car off at its best. When the Mk5 .:R was first launched, most people, including myself were very critical of the silver nose, the alloys, and the exhaust pipe positions, but then as people saw the car in the 'flesh' some revised these opinions. Consequently I was expecting to revise my opinions too, but....you guessed it....I was very disappointed with her appearance. Still, looks aren't everything (so we are told!) so I went in to see the dealer and pick up the key. He started telling me that I should be very careful as the R32 had 250 bhp whereas my GTI has only 200 bhp. When I asked him if the power delivery was smooth he said "Well, put it like this - I took this car home last night and I shan't be doing so again!" He was about to go on but when I told him not to worry because I had driven a 270 bhp track spec GTI (Ray West's) he instantly shut up! Fecking dealers! Just to wind him up I said I would you be going off to find the greasiest roads I could.

Grey body, grey leather seats, grey plastics, grey headlining....All too grey for my Throbbin' Red taste. The imitation milled ali trim was okay but why couldn't it be the real thing?! Otherwise the cabin was obviously the same layout as my GTI. I started her engine....Ah, at last! Now that's much better! Not enough of it though, so I wound down the window an inch and began to imagine how she would sound with Millteks. Popped her gently into first gear expecting her to be straining at the reins but she was very well behaved - Never listen to anything a dealer tells you! Off I go, exploring the throttle but letting her warm up especially as she only had 240 miles on the clock.

Now, at this point I want everyone to understand that although I have been driving for 40 years and that includes all sorts of vehicles, I do not consider myself to be an expert driver and I have never driven on a track - Probably because I have race marshalled from the inside of the track!! So, this 'review'/report is simply from the perspective of a 'mature' (in years) driver who never knowingly risks life and will drive fast only when he considers the conditions are safe enough. I'm glad to say it wasn't long before I had the opportunity to overtake both a Jag and an Audi on a two-lane fast uphill left-hand sweep before having to brake hard for a roundabout....Brakes excellent, sticking to the roundabout faultless and I had my first few moments of enjoyment and immediately wanted more of that V6 sound! But, the steering feels heavy compared with the GTI. It's direct and responsive but just heavy. The rest of the car also feels heavy....a lot heavier than the GTI and this was something I wasn't so keen about.

From the roundabout I took the coast road. This is a famous stretch of road for bikers....17 miles of hilly twisties and a current bike record of 12 mins and only a few seconds! I was gradually beginning to get used to the weight of the car but occasionally still found it easy to miss the best gear. I missed having paddles. This R32 delivers faultless confidence-inspiring traction but still felt heavy and lacking the feeling of agility of my GTI. The fussy looking 18" alloys give a bumpier ride but I'm now being spoilt by my GTI's aftermarket KoniFSD+Eibach setup. Abbotsbury Hill and its bends were dismissed very easily and with a V6 war-cry to delight all petrol-heads, marine and otherwise. I called in on a friend of mine who has an Audi RS4 and we chatted about this R32. He laughed and said he liked the exhaust note but that otherwise it looked very ordinairy and dull....The name "Yaris" was mentioned! But he prefers saloons and his is very bright yellow. I then called in at home before driving on to a fast stretch but including another major hill up the back of the highest cliff on the whole of England's south coast - Golden Cap. To my delight I had the chance to gun past another Audi (sorry all you Audi guys!) and outbrake another car into a two-lane roundabout (my favourites) and tightly keep to my lane but with the power on to then scream up another hill past three more cars before the road narrowed. Boy-racer in an Armani grey suited R32! After about 60 miles I was beginning to get more used to the car....Enjoying it's power and traction and V6 music. But I shouldn't have to feel cold having the window down just to hear the exhaust - she badly needs Millteks. The brakes feel much stronger than on the GTI and they are smoooth and effective in the extreme. But they would have to be stronger to slow down that weight....She ain't no Kate Moss or Naomi and more like Dawn French! Came up on a Saab who immediately wanted to race, I fluffed a gear change and so he gained a lot on me but I then recovered and floored it to scream past at 135 like he was standing still but then my car hinted at a twitch as I entered the fast bend. He then left me well alone. I love the 4WD and I love the power but I don't like the heaviness. She's well behaved in the high streets but it's always going to be tempting to boot it so you can hear the V6 reverberate on the stone walls of award-winning picturesque villages. What would I become with this car? - Is the correct term ASWOB? It certainly encourages anti-social behaviour. It's very unexpected and strange that I experienced far more cars wanting to 'race' in the grey R32 than I do in my red GTI and they were all biz exec types in suits and nice cars! Perhaps because the GTI looks so much more sporty, others think they have less chance. Either that or some other drivers just want to see how the R32 goes. On the other hand it might just be my baseball cap and shades (prescription!!). I returned the car before sunset.....With an empty tank!

I didn't talk any money with the dealer....I just told him I loved it but he needed to get a DSG version for me to borrow before any dosh was discussed. As my RS4 mate said: "It needs to knock your socks off to merit buying one". VW have actually succeeded extremely well in creating a top of the range luxury Golf, but it's just a fast luxury hatchback imo....Isn't the "R" in "R32" meant to stand for racing?

I found the R32 very, very exhilerating and I wondered how I would feel getting back into my GTI....Think of your favourite and most comfortable trainers/shoes....Feels great doesn't it. I found that the GTI feels every bit as fast except at possibly from 90-ish up. I really cannot agree with anyone who says that one feels faster to drive than the other....The R32 feels like a bigger heavier but powerful car and the GTI feels very sporty and agile. My Millteks make the 4-pot sound as good as any 4-pot can get and enough to stop me drooling after the V6, plus I like the turbo sound. After driving the R32 I feel more confident pushing my GTI and more trusting of her ESP.

PROS:

- 4WD traction.

- V6 sound and upper power.

- Faultless brakes.

CONS:

- Very dull styling.

- Too heavy.

- Alloys too fussy to keep clean. (LeMan was so right with his typically witty toothbrush comment)

Apart from safe performance, what I also want from a car is that 'WOW!!' factor whenever I see her before unlocking and climbing aboard.....I didn't fall in love and I'm capable of doing so very easily! Which reminds me to watch "Lost" soon 'cos I really fancy that Kate!

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fair play red very good write up as usual and what u said is how i think i will feel after my first spin in one. Id be more interested in waiting for the new s3 or perhaps the r36 if it ever comes out !!! Good work anyway red.

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Nice review Red 169144-ok.gif

Your thoughts were just as I predicted a few nights ago smile.gif

But the big question is has the worm been satisfied ?

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I should quickly add that the R32 needs to be driven very fast to get the same buzz that the GTI gives and then the .:R greatly increases the risks of the wrath of Mr Plod! With the GTI it's easier to skip over the hedges and fly under the radar but still have great performance-car fun!

I remember that LeMan summed up the GTI extremely well recently....Sporty, agile, fun, iconic, has the 'Wow' factor!

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Good write up there Red. I have to admit I am not a fan of it in steel grey either. It does look a lot different in either of the blues, the black or the red.

Judging by your comment on the stealer getting a DSG before any money was discussed, I am assuming that you still remain interested in it.

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Red - Nice write up. Sounds like we are both on the same page.

I like the R32 a lot, if I had not driven the GTi first I would be in one now.

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Enjoyed the review Rob....and well worthe the half bottle of Martell I drank while waiting to read it 169144-ok.gif

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Great review Red, and very balanced as usual. Interestingly I visited my VW dealer,recently who don't currently have a R32, but they have driven several, both manual & DSG. In their opinion they consider the GTI to be the better all round car, which will have better resale value in NZ. As I love it so much, it is the best car I have ever owned plus the fact it is NZD 20k less than the R32, means it is a winner IMO.

Cheers

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good review red, spotted a blue 32 in poole the weekend,still not sure on the front but did look nice

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....I'm less interested in the R32 than I was. She's a great car....very powerful and exhilerating but only when driven hard. She's a licence loser! I don't know why the looks of a car are so important to me but the GTI is the numero uno babe on that score. Back to 'Lost"....

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Fair update and echo's many of my feelings on the R. The "wow" factor is what many say is missing but then again, having owned one for over a month now, the "wow" factor is developing. 169144-ok.gif

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....I shall make sure I still get the opportunity to drive a DSG version. And I will probably still take up Milltek's offer to drive theirs. I would be more interested in the R32 if it's body styling was better. I expect I would get used to the heavier feel. She was thirsty today! Def a licence loser though and that would worry me 'cos life is for living and enjoying.

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What's the 1/4 mile times and terminating speeds on an R32 and a GTi?

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TP - After 4 months the GTI 'wow' factor is still there for me!

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[ QUOTE ]

What's the 1/4 mile times and terminating speeds on an R32 and a GTi?

[/ QUOTE ]

....Absolutely no idea, mate. I'm only looking at this car according to how she feels to drive on the road and how she makes me feel. I would expect the R to be quicker but that isn't what influences a buying decision for me personally.

Cheers, MrMe 169144-ok.gif

P.S.- It's very much like the way I perform my music - Only by feel and from the heart and I can't read sheet music. Eric Clapton and many others are the same. I'm just trying to say that I can't get my head around the statistics. I'll be interested to hear the answer to your question nevertheless if it's put under my nose.

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Red,

I think this is a good point you make...at least it seems to tie in with the pre-release drives Australian motoring journos are currently making with the R32 in Germany.

Firstly, we won't see the R32 until at least August and it is predicted to be the equivalent of 8,200 pounds more than the GTI. It would want to be very, very good to justify the extra dollars.

In the article I read yesterday (Melbourne Age - Drive supplement) about the R32 a leading Aussie journo suggested that the GTi was a better tool for normal, everyday driving than the R32. He suggested that GTi felt more nimble and more exciting in the typical driving that Australian's experience - up to 100 kph or so. The performance difference he indicated in those every day conditions was not so marked between the two cars - though the R32 generally had the advantage in outright speed to 100km, in gear increments and so on.

He went onto say that the R32 is massively impressive car, especially at autobahn speeds - but we will never get a chance to drive at those speeds here - he referred to it as an executive express.

IMHO (and remember I won't see one for the better part of 8 months) I think the interior needs a bit more put into it to justify the extra 20K in Australian dollar. It still looks like a A$40K car inside (the Recaro seats aside) - with roots that can be traced back to a A$25K car. You suggested real milled aluminium for example. That would be a start. I think I would like something a bit more special -a bit Audi maybe for the $$$.

Great initial review BTW - enjoyed the read.

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Think of it this way, a 1541kg/184kW R32 has 8.375kg per kW of power, a 1336kg/147kW GTI has 9.09kg per kW of power. If you chipped your GTI so that it was about the same spec as an R32 (184kW/320Nm) that 205kg lighter car would be more nimble due to the weight and have a higher relative power of 7.26kg per kW of power (as well as a better torque to weight ratio), and would cost much less than an R32! I know which I would choose.

Jeremy

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But it wont have the traction and as mine is struggling as it is at the moment with the current conditions in the UK anything more will just make it worse.

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nice balanced report Red 169144-ok.gif am looking forward to running a V6 again, delivery date very close now.

keep enjoying the GTI, sounds like you'll be sticking with it cool.gif169144-ok.gif

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I agree with GTiMK5....It's only ESP which makes the GTI comparitive lack of traction manageable in Winter conditions. You can obviously drive accordingly but can't really use all the available power without feeding it in very gradually.

4WD is probably the biggest attraction of the new R32 imo....Plus the V6 music.

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Lucky some of us live in the driest state of the driest continent on earth where the roads are usually nice and dry and hot and sticky!

Jez

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Good review RedRobin, good luck with getting a demo DSG they seem to be like gold dust!

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Great write up Red, very interesting and pretty much as I had expected.

As I think I said in a previous post, I considered the R32 before going for the GTI but the price difference here in NZ is quite substantial and the only two major diffentiating factors in it's favour are 4WD and the V6. In nearly all other areas the GTI is better than the R32, in my opinion anyway.

I popped into my dealer yesterday to pickup my new euro-style personalised plate ("GTI001" btw) and they had 4 R32's on the lot (black, silver, red, blue) -- the black and red ones actually looked quite a lot better than the others. I was reading the delivery information in the window of one that hadn't been prepped yet and interestingly it seems as though the R32's come from Germany an the GTI's come from South Africa for this part of the world.

I'm still surprised that Australia doesn't get the R32 until June, and we've had them since late December.

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Hi Jono - If I was going to get an R32 it would be a Red one and I've seen pics of a red but, as I've already said, the Mk5 doesn't have that 'wow' styling. Heavy and thirsty too....I'm surprised about how much the heaviness feel bothered me.

I'll post some pics tomorrow.

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