Decided to keep a running tab of the car at the top of the OP here. Mods, mileage, and so on. So here we go:
Current Mileage: 6,400 miles
- APR Stage 2+ Software - Installed
- APR High Pressure Fuel Pump - Installed
- Neuspeed P-Flo Cold Air Intake - Installed
- TyrolSport Silicone Diverter Valve Hose - Installed
- APR RSC Turbo-back Exhaust System (diamond black tips) - Installed
- Forge Twintercooler FMIC - Installed
- Black Forest Industries Clean Catch System - Installed
- Sachs SRE Performance Clutch Kit - Installed
- HPA Pendulum Engine Mount - Installed
- Neuspeed RSe07 Wheels - Installed
- Michelin Pilot Super Sport Tires - Installed
- Carbotech 1521 Performance Brake Pads - Installed
- Motul RBF600 High-Temp Brake Fluid - Installed
- BFG Stainless Steel Brake Lines - Installed
- HPA Haldex Competition Controller - Installed
- UNIbrace "Special Wookies Edition" XB - Installed
- LLumar 35% NC Legal Tint - Installed
- Neuspeed Carbon Fiber Engine Cover - Installed
- Forge Alloy Black Oil Cap - Installed
- Forge Alloy Black Coolant Cap - Installed
- OEM Black Windshield Wiper Fluid Canister Cover - Installed
- "R-line" Logo Valve Stem Caps - Installed
- "Carbon Fiber" Seat Inserts - Installed
- OEM Under-seat Drawer - Installed
- OEM LED Tails with rear fog - Installed
- European-spec switch with rear fog compatibility - Installed
- "True Blue" PODI Boost Gauge with Steering Column Mount - Installed
- OEM Golf R MojoMats - Installed
- "Winking" - Completed
- Rear wiper activation on reverse - Completed
- Comfort window/sunroof activation with key fob - Completed
- "Parallel Parking Lights" - Completed
- 2-stage Electronic Stability Control - Completed
After a long and difficult wait beginning in August, Riley (the affectionate name that my friends and I have given to this gorgeous new car) finally arrived today from her birthplace in Germany.
I first inquired about the car with my dealer (Maxwell Volkswagen, Burlington, NC) in the middle of August. At that point, no official deposits on the Rs had been taken, but my dealer informed me that I would be placed on the top of the list if he were to receive an allotment. In the next few weeks, I scoured the internet for all of the R-based information that I could find, browsing forums like this one and YouTube for pictures and/or videos of the Euro-spec Rs. In the period between first contacting my dealer and actually dropping a deposit on a car, I decided that the car I wanted was a 2-door R in Rising Blue and with all of the available options.
During the first week of October, while on a trip to Biloxi, MS for the Cruising The Coast event, I received a call from Maxwell Volkswagen. A salesman told me that the dealership had already received an allotment for an R and that I would have first refusal. I asked him about the color and options and he told me that, unfortunately, they had already put down 2-door, Rising Blue, loaded.
I told him great, that it was exactly the car I wanted, and that I could give him a credit card number over the phone for a deposit. I put $1,000 down and he told me that the car would go into production during the first week of November.
For the next month, everything was quiet. I kept asking for updates but nothing changed. Finally, I joined VW Vortex and found the threads here about tracking the car. This helped immensely (I think - maybe it made me more anxious because I heard about everyone else's status updates and I still didn't have my commission number). After fishing for updates from the dealer, I told him that I'd be grateful to get my commission number (M31455) so that I didn't have to bother him quite so much. He obliged, of course, which allowed me to keep up with my car that much better.
On December 7th, Riley's status updated to in transit, which meant that the car was leaving the factory and due soon for a ship. At this point things got cloudy - if the car was loaded on the ship in the next few days it was either on the Firmament Ace or Garnet Leader. But I had no concrete evidence telling me which ship the car was on, so I just crossed my fingers and hoped that it was one of these. About three or four weeks passed and I heard nothing from anyone.
Suddenly, in late December, I got an e-mail from the salesman that told me my car had updated status again and was showing in port. I still don't know which ship the car actually came on, but for some reason it took quite a long time (according to the status updates) to get from the factory to the port. Regardless, he informed me that it should be loaded on a truck within a week or two and that delivery should only be a few days after that. My status showed an ETA of January 24th, 2012.
After the holds were released by VW on Friday, January 6th, things got exciting. I knew my car was in Georgia so it was just a question of how long it would be before a truck picked it up. The weekend went by (maybe one of the longest weekends of my life) and on Monday I got a text message from the dealer telling me that the car had loaded on a truck and was "in transit inland." He said he expected it on Wednesday.
Right on cue, Wednesday rolled around and at 9:00 AM and some change I got another text message from the dealer. It was a picture of Riley all wrapped up in a delivery bag. "Come by the dealership when you can," he said.
So I did. When I got there, we began unwrapping the car. I got to start it for the first time and sit in it, and immediately fell in love. It was everything I thought it would be.
Unfortunately, the dealer told me that they couldn't take delivery that day, that they needed some time to get the car prepped and I would need to come back the next day. I said that was fine, I needed to get my insurance and whatnot all filed away (and it was raining on Wednesday), so we agreed that I'd pick it up at 1:00 PM on Thursday, January 12th.
I did just that. Here she is:
About the car (my little review):
Interior: As expected, the interior here is excellent. The fit and finish is what we expected. Everything looks and feels fairly high quality. It's not Rolls Royce, but it's much better than any domestic or Japanese car. It's just a quality feel. The important bits: First, the gauge cluster. The little blue arms in the dials are fantastic. That's literally one of my favorite parts about the car (maybe a little strange, I know). The shifter I love. It's light (shifts easily too - that covered later) and finds the shift gates without any additional effort. The pedal feel is good, as perfect as you can expect from a mass-produced streetcar. The steering wheel translates feel from the road in a way that makes the driving feel steady and planted. The leather quality is really good, probably a solid B+, whereas I'd say higher grades are reserved for some of your upper-tier marques like Merc, BMW and such. Finally, my favorite part: The seats. They are simply fantastic. As many of you know, they're apparently the same MK6 GTI Autobahn seats (I haven't sat in those but that's what everyone tells me). These things are simply excellent and there's nothing else I can say about them.
Electronics: I had no trouble hooking the car up to my phone's Bluetooth and enjoying the iPod compatibility. Rs come with 3-month free satellite radio (haven't tried it yet - not sure if they all come with it or just the loaded ones? I assume all of them do.), which is great. I haven't tried the sat nav so I can't remark on that yet. The MFI seems to do everything you'd want it to do. Really happy with it. The big mark here: The Dynaudio stereo system. It's about as good as you can expect from a production car. Let me put it this way: I've never heard a better system from a production car. Probably the closest comparison would be the Bose system in a Corvette ZR-1. That's good too, but I honestly think this one is better.
The Drive: I'm breaking this down into multiple portions as it is the most important part.
Engine: The car has plenty of power. Of course it's not as fast as some other cars, but it's quite peppy. Obviously it won't have the immediate pull that you get from a 400 ft-lb V8 (I'm quoting this because my DD was previously a 2006 Pontiac GTO) but it's nothing to shake a stick at. There is a significant amount of turbo lag, but the engine spools quickly, so you're in the power band before you can say "here it comes." You don't feel that much until between 1800-2100 RPM when the turbo begins producing significant boost and the torque starts kicking in. It will surprise you. I was REALLY impressed with the power curve from say 3000 to redline. I didn't kick the car from a dig (probably won't do that for a long time) from I have no doubts expecting a sub 6.0 second 0-60 if you can shift fast enough. It got me from 5-80 in a good hurry, and I'm actually pretty happy with the amount of power that the car has.
Transmission: First off - the clutch. The friction point is very close to the floor, or at least much closer than any other manual cars that I usually drive. I found this odd at first and during hard shifts from 1->2 and 2->3, but after driving for 20-30 miles I got used to it. I actually think I prefer it to a clutch that releases farther back. It will probably change once the clutch gets broken in too, we'll see. The transmission itself - I love the shifter. The throws are short and easy. Some cars have tricky transmissions that make going from certain gears to other gears odd (thinking of a new Camaro and a Viper - both have tricky gates that don't seem intuitive to me). The Golf R, though, has none of these problems. I really like the transmission. Really really do.
One more thing: You'll be surprised how quick you go through first and second gear. It's a combination of the gearing and the turbo kicking in and taking you through the rev range quickly. 1st and 2nd go by quick. When you get into 3rd you really get to feel the power pulling you back into the seat.
The handling/suspension: I can't say much here. The steering is great, as previously mentioned. It communicates well and is tight enough when moving that you feel confident, but smooth enough when crawling that it makes maneuvering in a parking lot easy. I've only driven about 40 miles but I threw it into some hard corners just to get a feel for what I can expect. The grip threshold is far and above what you would expect to need on the street. On the track, I expect the car to handle as well as the tires you put on it. I have a feeling that it will certainly outperform the all-seasons it's wearing right now (my are Dunlops). A tire change is probably in order if you're a serious track driver, even though I think the all-season would perform decently well for an occasional enthusiast. The ride is soft but not floaty. It's just about perfect for me, but it might leave an older driver a bit uncomfortable on long journeys. It's not a Cadillac, but it's better than my GTO.
I haven't come into an situations where I really felt the AWD making a difference aside from semi-hard acceleration in a corner. Obviously front wheel drive would spin here but the AWD seems to pull us through the corner exactly as expected. I doubt I nailed it hard enough to cause a RWD to spin so I'll have to wait until I get on different roads or a track to test the limits there.
Brakes: Not much to say here. They perform extremely well for the street and will stop you as well as you can ask from stock production brakes. The pedal feel is good and I don't think you'll ever see any problem with them for street and occasional track use. If you are serious about track driving: I could see an upgrade to ceramic HPS or similar pads for anyone planning to head to the track more often than one a year or whatever (DOT4 fluid as well of course, I wonder what comes in the R?). I bet you'll have no trouble using stock rotors on the track but I would definitely want better pads. If you plan to go to the track very often and use this car as a track car, I'd go with slotted rotors, of course, but everyone interested in tracking will know that already.
Exhaust: This is interesting. I expected the car to be louder. You can definitely hear it roar when you get on it hard but from idle to 2000 RPM the car is barely audible, even with the windows cracked. At stoplights you almost wonder if your engine is still running. If you want more sound, I'd definitely seek an upgrade in this area first. If you want a semi-quiet cruiser, though, this car's sound will be PERFECT for you. I actually really like it. Right now I'm not sure whether I want to touch the exhaust or not - I would prefer more sound, but if I want a louder ride, I'll go hop back in the GTO - we'll have to wait and see on that.
Overall: Let's just say I'm really happy with my choice. I look forward to many days and miles with this car. It's pretty much as good or better than expected in about every measurable way.