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Old 01-05-2011, 06:40 AM   #1
TAZZ
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Post Golf GTI vs. Golf R

Finally received my Rising blue 2011 Golf R in Lebanon! the car is AMAZING going to post pics as soon as possible in another post. My brother in law received his CW 2011 GTI in the same shipment; so after completing engine and brakes run-in we got to some spirited test driving of these two fine cars. My purpose here is to give readers and potential buyers an (as much as possible) objective and complete comparative review between the Golf R and the Golf GTI, especially that lots of people have been having arguments about the R being better or the GTI being better, but very few have test driven both cars side by side, alternatively switching back and forth between both in the exact same conditions and roads for relatively extended periods of time. Sorry for the lengthy writing but as I said this is to really try and give out as much comparison info as possible and give a verdict based thereon.


First off the GTI:

Main Specs:
Candy White/ 4 Doors/ DSG/ 18” Detroits/ Sunroof/ Xenons.

Engine/ Transmission:
The first thing you notice about digging away with a GTI is the immediate available torque; it’s like it’s just there waiting for you as soon as you depress the accelerator. Revving it straight to the red line gives you a very nice power delivery and a pretty decent acceleration. Power delivery is much better than most of the cars on the road, you can easily overtake just about anything without a fuss, downshifting is rarely if ever needed, even got to tackle other much bigger engine cars. It can safely be said that from a drivers’ standpoint there’s a 10% improvement over the MK5 GTI. However once you get used to it, it feels a bit linear and at higher revs the limits of the KO3 lower boost turbo can be felt; acceleration somehow “settles”. The engine sound is rather a bit mute at idle and on the low revs, but past 3,000 rpm, the chain driven EA888 engine gives a clear nice, if a bit light, growl (a tad more present than that of the belt driven EA113 found in the MK5 GTI). There’s however this annoying rattling noise under light throttle between 2,000-3,000 rpm – I’ve read it’s a glitch with the catalyst and heat shield in all MK6 GTIs – but apart from that the car feels so tight and well built. When you’re not hitting it hard, the GTI feels very much like a premium German car with just about entry level size; very silent, poised and classy, the MK6 is indeed the grown up GTI. Oil temperature ranged between 90 and 110 celsius.
On the transmission side DSG is just great, it fits the whole platform perfectly, with the “Pwoooaarr” upshift addictive sound: obviously it’s not as involving as a manual, but IMO if you’re after “involvement” you’re better off with something else than a GTI: this car is synonymous with immediate, easy, accessible decent performance, and demands veeeeery little from the driver, it’s the sports car “for everyone” with accessible performance on the tips of your fingers.


Handling/ Suspension/ Brakes:
The handling and lateral grip is excellent even at rather high speeds; understeer is still here but has been very much reduced in comparison to the MK5 model. The car is very nimble, light, and easy to move around; it recovers quickly from any swift steering maneuver. The levels of grip are quite impressive, but the GTI still suffers from a LOT of wheel spin whenever you floor it, and may have a tendency to “bounce off” its trajectory under curvy acceleration if the road conditions are not perfect (which is often the case over here). Brakes are very good and make you feel extremely confident, stopping power is impressive, but under heavy braking it seems that there’s a slight grinding noise (maybe due to the running-in?), the ride is very balanced: at the same time sufficiently firm and supple enough even on 18s.
In the wet, the car behaves very sanely, but obviously you quickly reach its limits with more wheel spin, and under-steer in the curves, ESP keeps intruding to keep the car on track and takes away the fun.

Style:
This is more subjective but I figured I just write it down since people who are still reading at this point won’t mind an extra line or two: On the plus side the GTI scheme is very present with the nice seat design, red stitching, and honeycomb grille with red accents. The 18’ Detroits are just perfect. On the other hand however, the external body kit is a bit too “round” front and rear (especially if you compare it to the R), and could be more aggressive to better advertise the car’s potential, vertical fog lights look a bit weird at first then it gets better with time. New 2011 front led sidelights are sooo cool.


Onto the Golf R:

Main Specs:
Rising Blue/ 2 Doors/ DSG/ 18” Taladega/ Sunroof/ Xenons.

Engine/ Transmission
First thing you notice about the Golf R is that the engine noise is very different from that of the GTI, with a noticeably deeper and louder growl throughout the rev band, yes it is not as loud as the R32 six, but honestly any more than that would be too loud inside the cabin. As soon as you depress the accelerator and below 2,000rpm it feels a bit less torquey than the immediate light footed GTI. This is due to the bigger KO4 turbo requiring just a bit more revs to deliver the juice. Only in this strict aspect, and when you compare it to the Golf GTI, the Golf R has a bit of turbo lag. However, as of 2,500 rpm it does feel faster and torquier than the GTI. When you rev it a bit more, the power delivery becomes much more aggressive and less linear than the GTI; the torque suddenly slaps you in the face; it “storms in” rather than being present from the start. As of the mid 4s on the rev counter the R further becomes a very different animal, turbo boost keeps on increasingly coming till the red line upshift rather than settling down as is the case with the GTI. All in all, the Golf R has a noticeably better acceleration (acceleration time is cut down by more than a full second) and a more aggressiveness-keen power delivery, but demands more than the GTI from the driver to release its potential. When you’re cruising the deeper engine noise inside the cabin makes it feel a bit less “not boy racer” than the GTI, but considering the R badge you’d expect that. Oil temperature in the same conditions was quite lower than the GTI's and ranged between 86 and 100 celsius, probably due to the larger turbo and cooling system.
The DSG on the Golf R is also different; it has a heavier more aggressive feel on each gear change, especially when you downshift while accelerating. An extremely cool feature about it is that as soon as you switch it to either manual or Sports mode the idle revs jump 300 rpm Outside urban crowded roads I wouldn’t recommend driving it in “D”; the car would lose its entire special feel, which is not as much the case with the GTI. IMO where the slight turbo lag is to some point a disadvantage it can also be regarded as having its advantages from a transmissions’ standpoint since the Golf R is henceforth more involving than the GTI in the sense that it will require the driver to be more in control of the gears by staying further involved in the gear change. In the GTI it’s as if any gear is the right gear so you just let the car do the business.

Handling/ Suspension/ Brakes:
Handling and lateral grip are equally excellent. Thanks to Gen4 Haldex AWD (which is also improved over the R32’s Gen3), the Golf R has an even better grip than the GTI when accelerating in and out of a curve (at some point you can really feel the rear end getting involved, it’s another experience) and traction is impeccable with zero wheel spin no matter how hard you floor it. The R is of course heavier than the GTI and in comparison feels less nimble but more planted; literally nothing can unsettle it this side of a race track. Steering, throttle, damping are heavier and as such make it less enjoyable to drive in the city than the lighter GTI. Suspension is a bit lower and harder, a tad less balanced and sportier than the GTI but the ride quality is still very decent. Wouldn’t recommend the 19 Talladga alloys if roads are not perfect where you live. Braking is less progressive but more aggressive than the GTI’s.
In the wet? Well it’s just like driving in the dry, yes it is.

Style:
It is more aggressive and angular than the GTI, but I cannot stress enough on this: THE PICTURES REALLY DO IT NO JUSTICE. But as with the GTI, a tad more would have been better.


VERDICT:

The Golf GTI is an extremely versatile accessible and comfortable sports car, with decent performance that’s easy to drive and live with; it’s an extremely well balanced car, which potential is obviously compromised in the wet. The Golf R is more sports biased with a more involving drive, firmer more planted ride, more aggressive power delivery and better performance (especially on the wet) as well as the advantage of an AWD transmission. People saying that the GTI is better or that the R is better (it is ) are both wrong; the two cars are equally great, which you chose is entirely a matter of personal preference, daily commuting conditions and budget.

People thinking that remapping the GTI to stage 1 for a few 100 bucks would be better are also wrong because:
1- A stage 1 GTI will still be slower that a stock Golf R;
2- Remapping the GTI will make it lose one of its greatest assets which is its perfect balance: you’d have too much power on just front wheels which will ruin the ride and handling, negatively affect XDS and dramatically increase wheelspin. The brakes would be too small for such power (front discs are 312mm, rear are just 253mm and are not auto-ventilated), the suspension setting would not be adapted; the car’s balance will be ruined just to gain 0.5s in acceleration, and if it’s raining you’re better off on foot.
3- For the same few 100 bucks a Golf R can be remapped to Stage 1 with 300+bhp and 400+Nm of torque without ruining the experience since it already has upgraded brakes, suspension, engine reinforcement and more importantly an AWD transmission.

IMO people saying that the R is not worth the cash are also wrong for the following reasons:
First: lot of optional equipment on the Golf GTI come as standard on the Golf R such as bi-xenon directional headlights, led brake lights, 18” alloys, climatronic, leather door sills and centre armrest, launch control (these are the minimal standard specs for any market);
Second: so basically the price difference between similarly specced cars one in GTI guise and the other in R guise actually covers:

1- 60bhp more power and 70Nm more peak torque (acceleration is down from 6.9s to 5.5s),
2- A reinforced engine block (cylinder head, bearings, stronger pistons and gudgeon pins, reinforced connecting rods etc…) with 1.2 bar KO4
3- An AWD transmission,
4- A more sporty suspension tuning,
5- An enhanced gearbox software,
6- Better and bigger brakes and
7- A more aggressive and distinctive body kit;

Third: please read the famous Top Gear show Review which addresses this particular issue (along with the R vs R32 one) at http://www.topgear.com/uk/photos/vw-...ture?imageNo=0 (read the complete review)

I am not praising the Golf R just because I own one, this is truly an amazingly good car, the GTI is also an excellent hatch which was voted 2009 Hot hatch of the year, but in the end there’s a reason why Top Gear has voted the Golf R as 2010 Hot Hatch of the Year, to understand what I am talking about, you can always check the BBC Top Gear magazine 2010 awards (issue 212 UK edition), or the link: http://www.topgear.com/uk/photos/the...ards?imageNo=5

Happy motoring
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Last edited by TAZZ; 01-11-2011 at 10:32 AM.
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Old 01-05-2011, 07:18 AM   #2
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excellent write up and very detailed. I own a 2011 GTI and when I bought it didnt have the option of the Golf R, so it was a no brainer for me, however living in Dubai 95% of the roads are straight line so the advantages of the Golf R are lost, however if I was living anywhere else which had twisty mountain roads I would have definately looked at the R with more focus and would have probably gone for it.

I used to own an Evo 9 and of course being all wheel drive and turbo I can draw some similarities with the R and can see exactly where your coming from. Everybody who hasnt driven a proper turbo 4-wheel drive car must go and take a test drive and I think you will see where the review is coming from. However I love my GTI and am very pleased I got one
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Old 01-05-2011, 10:36 AM   #3
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I enjoyed reading the write-up; it is very well written and genuine.

I thought you did an unbiased job of capturing the essence of each vehicle.

I can agree with much of what you wrote (based on what I know about the R and have experienced with the GTI), and believe it is a very fair assessment that potential buyers/owners could benefit from.

Nicely done.
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Old 01-05-2011, 10:53 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TAZZ View Post

People thinking that remapping the GTI to stage 1 for a few 100 bucks would be better are also wrong because:
1- A stage 1 GTI will still be slower that a stock Golf R;
2- Remapping the GTI will make it lose one of its greatest assets which is its perfect balance: youíd have too much power on just front wheels which will ruin the ride and handling, negatively affect XDS and dramatically increase wheelspin. The brakes would be too small for such power (front discs are 312mm, rear are just 253mm and are not auto-ventilated), the suspension setting would not be adapted; the carís balance will be ruined just to gain 0.5s in acceleration, and if itís raining youíre better off on foot.
3- For the same few 100 bucks a Golf R can be remapped to Stage 1 with 300+bhp and 400+Nm of torque without ruining the experience since it already has upgraded brakes, suspension, engine reinforcement and more importantly an AWD transmission.
Does anyone who has done stage 1 agree that the car is no longer balanced? I have not heard this before but if it's true I'd like to hear about it. I believe what the OP said about the brakes, but that would be something I would address if I flash my '11.
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:18 AM   #5
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrGonzo View Post
Does anyone who has done stage 1 agree that the car is no longer balanced? I have not heard this before but if it's true I'd like to hear about it. I believe what the OP said about the brakes, but that would be something I would address if I flash my '11.
nope...disagree 100% haha...it is actually way more drivable...and there are no problems at all putting down power to the ground with practice and good tires...as far as the brakes they have always been so-so on the gti's...they really need brembos

and im not sure where it is but there was a video on here of a golf R vs Stage 1 gti acceleration...and they they were about equal with the stage 1 noising ahead
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:38 AM   #7
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Mabrouk bro! my friend also received his CW R with 19" Talladga rims. first R with these rims in lebanon as said by Kettaneh. can't wait till his engine breaks in, im promised a ride and a run anyway, excellent write up and if you are willing i'd be interested in running you and we can even get some vids. if i'm not mistaken the R here is the same as the detuned 252hp australian version, so i think it will be a good race. a stage 1 GTI i beleive will walk this version until you get a tune.also, a fully loaded gti is 50k$ whereas the starting price for an R is 59.9k$.for 10k$ difference you're talking stage 3 with supporting mods . jst a couple things i thought i'd mention. let me know if you're interested.looking forward to seeing you in meets.
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:44 AM   #8
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I actually believe a GTI with Stage 1 is quicker than a R until like 110ish.
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:46 AM   #9
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nope...disagree 100% haha...it is actually way more drivable...and there are no problems at all putting down power to the ground with practice and good tires...as far as the brakes they have always been so-so on the gti's...they really need brembos

and im not sure where it is but there was a video on here of a golf R vs Stage 1 gti acceleration...and they they were about equal with the stage 1 noising ahead
Interesting...sorry didn't want to sound that radical in saying that a stage 1 GTI is no good. I have driven the stage 1 GTI of a friend (superchips map), yes the power upgrade is really great and yes once you get it going putting the power to the ground is not much of a problem on a dry straight line, but I remember than whenever we were driving on curvy roads with lots of turns requiring braking and acceleration the car would really struggle on wheel spin, and had substantial under-steer (not that much with a bone stock GTI). and in the wet we had to treat it really gently and slowly 1st and 2nd gear otherwise we'd just spin our ground.
Yes I recall seeing the video about Stg 1 GTI vs stock R, but:
1- it was from a roll 2nd or maybe 3rd gear;
2-it was a straight drag line;
3- there were 2 blokes (driver and camera man) sitting in the R;
4- was pretty even until 5th gear, the R won (watch the full video) despite all these being ideal conditions for the stg 1 GTI

I'm talking about real all round driving conditions with stops and goes, braking, accelerating, wet and dry, curves and turns in which you need to accelerate and maneuver; believe me a stage 1 GTI wouldn't at all keep up with a stock R, I've driven both.
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:59 AM   #10
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Mabrouk bro! my friend also received his CW R with 19" Talladga rims. first R with these rims in lebanon as said by Kettaneh. can't wait till his engine breaks in, im promised a ride and a run anyway, excellent write up and if you are willing i'd be interested in running you and we can even get some vids. if i'm not mistaken the R here is the same as the detuned 252hp australian version, so i think it will be a good race. a stage 1 GTI i beleive will walk this version until you get a tune.also, a fully loaded gti is 50k$ whereas the starting price for an R is 59.9k$.for 10k$ difference you're talking stage 3 with supporting mods . jst a couple things i thought i'd mention. let me know if you're interested.looking forward to seeing you in meets.
Heeey nice to see there's a good community from LB on this forum.
Thx hope you enjoyed reading it.
Actually it's 256hp according to the technical sheet of VW handed by Kettaneh. yea we gett the detuned version here but that's ok I'm taking it stage 1 at 5,000Km It'd be great to meet you guys for a run PM your details.
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Old 01-05-2011, 12:03 PM   #11
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Thank you, thank you, great write-up. I can't wait to order mine when they finally come to the U.S.! Thanks so much for sharing.
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Old 01-05-2011, 12:06 PM   #12
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Heeey nice to see there's a good community from LB on this forum.
Thx hope you enjoyed reading it.
Actually it's 256hp according to the technical sheet of VW handed by Kettaneh. yea we gett the detuned version here but that's ok I'm taking it stage 1 at 5,000Km It'd be great to meet you guys for a run PM your details.
pm sent. what tuner are you going with?
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Old 01-05-2011, 12:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TAZZ View Post
Interesting...sorry didn't want to sound that radical in saying that a stage 1 GTI is no good. I have driven the stage 1 GTI of a friend (superchips map), yes the power upgrade is really great and yes once you get it going putting the power to the ground is not much of a problem on a dry straight line, but I remember than whenever we were driving on curvy roads with lots of turns requiring braking and acceleration the car would really struggle on wheel spin, and had substantial under-steer (not that much with a bone stock GTI). and in the wet we had to treat it really gently and slowly 1st and 2nd gear otherwise we'd just spin our ground.

I'm talking about real all round driving conditions with stops and goes, braking, accelerating, wet and dry, curves and turns in which you need to accelerate and maneuver; believe me a stage 1 GTI wouldn't at all keep up with a stock R, I've driven both.
as far are understeer is concerned i cannot attest...i have had my rear sway from my mk5 i traded in since the 3rd day i had my gti so i actually slightly oversteer...as far as wheelspin...without feathering the throttle at all then yes they will spin a little, but so will the stock map...thats about knowing how to drive a fwd car properly...fwd will never get off the line as well as awd, but with practice you can take off no problem

as far as keeping up with the R...top gear's time between the 2 was a second and change difference around a track...i would find it interesting to see their time on a stg1 gti...
http://www.golfmk6.com/forums/showth...highlight=Golf


i am not trying to hate on the golf R...i know with a stg 1 tune they would be a beast...i'm just bitter they put a 2.0t in it and killed the uniqueness that the rest of the .:R's had
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Old 01-05-2011, 12:33 PM   #14
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I have stage 2, and I haven't noticed any decrease in handling capability whatsoever. I can out-autocross stock GTIs by a few seconds reliably. You just have to be precise with the throttle as to not spin rubber (too much). If you can get that down, you have one of the fastest autocross cars out there.
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