16 thoughts about the 2024 Volkswagen Golf R

The Volkswagen Golf R should’ve been a new car I was giddily waiting for the second it was available for testing. Both it and the GTI have long been on the short list of the cars I’d actually buy, even with price as no issue. I’m not alone around here. “You should buy a GTI” was basically a running joke during the Autoblog Podcast’s “Spend my Money” segment. But then something happened with the latest-generation Golf R and GTI: The interior became infuriating.

While most of the rightly deserved vitriol for Volkswagen’s new interior layout/controls/concept was directed at the ID.4 that got it first, the GTI and Golf R got the same convoluted touchscreen interface and unlit slider controls replacing perfectly usable previous-generation screens and buttons. True, there are still rear window switches on the driver door, and the mirror knob markings don’t disappear in sunlight, so hey, totally better. This interior annoyed me so much in the ID.4 that I was uninterested in driving the Golf R and GTI because, quite frankly, it was going to make me angry. And then sad.

But then things got sadder when Volkswagen announced it would no longer offer the GTI and Golf R with a manual transmission come 2025. Well, now they’re just trying to piss me off. Fine, so if this is going to be the last hurrah, I’d better get a final test before it’s too late.

2024 Volkswagen Golf R interior

Here are my thoughts …

1. The touchscreen is still bad

It may not suffer from the same lagging as earlier versions, but it’s still bad. Here are my three main beefs … The multi-menu heated seat process with too small buttons. No permanently docked menu shortcut icons. The radio that doesn’t show your favorites list and song info at the same time. 

I have other beefs, and I originally devoted 500 words to them, but you don’t want to read that. So moving on …

2024 Volkswagen Golf R song info2024 Volkswagen Golf R radio control Nurburgring 2024 Volkswagen Golf R touch sliders2024 Volkswagen Golf R touch buttons on wheel

2. That said, the touch sliders are also still bad

It’s not just that they’re not illuminated, especially since VW is adding illumination for 2025, just as it did for the 2024 ID.4. You still won’t be able to see them often in the daytime because of glare off the piano black trim. There also still won’t be haptic feedback. And you’ll also still be likely to accidentally press one of them while resting your hand on the ledge they reside in while using the touchscreen. Other car companies literally put a ledge in the same place for this very purpose. They’re just smart enough not to put touch-sensitive controls on it.

3. And yeah, the touch buttons on the steering wheel are also still bad

The volume control is just awful. A slider is even worse on a steering wheel, and pressing it is just so imprecise. Thankfully, this nonsense will be swapped out for one with real buttons, much like the 2024 Atlas.

4. The digital instruments have three useless view choices

To be clear, I’m not against view/layout options for digital instruments. The more the merrier. I’m not even against these particular view/layout options. It’s just that three of them are missing a key element: a tachometer! Clearly, these were not designed with a manual transmission in mind. Which I guess won’t be a problem much longer. There is one with a big-old tach front-and-center, as well as a specific R gauge layout. That, however, has radio information just as prominently displayed as the bar-type tach and your speed is in, like, 14-point font down in the lower right-hand corner. I’m not sure it’s as performance-oriented as its designer intended.

5. Right, so this is skewing awfully negative …

… and I actually enjoyed my time with the Golf R. I eventually made peace with the touchscreen and I don’t think it would be a dealbreaker for me. That’s because there’s still so much that’s right about this car.

2024 Volkswagen Golf R DCC super comfy2024 Volkswagen Golf R drive mode Nurburgring

6. The adjustable suspension has 15 settings!

In cars that offer an adjustable suspension and a custom/individual drive mode, it’s commonplace to make everything Sport except for the suspension, which goes to Comfort or maybe Normal. This is for two possible reasons. First, the car’s Normal or Comfort settings for steering, throttle and transmission are numb, lazy slop I don’t want to deal with, but also don’t want some firm Sport ride while driving around town. Second, the Sport suspension setting is too firm for mountain roads with imperfect pavement, where mid-corner bumps can upset the chassis. More suspension compliance is good in this scenario.

The Golf R has a Custom setting to go with Comfort, Sport, Race, Drift and Nurburgring. Let’s just put those last two aside. Interestingly, the car actually defaults to Sport, which is commendable, and different than the norm. To be clear, I’m totally OK with this and the Sport setting in general. Definitely not slop. But! Take a look at all those DCC adjustments, aka DCC, aka adjustable dampers. Not only can I select the Comfort suspension with everything else being in Sport, I can go three clicks below Comfort!

I did just that during a three-hour drive down to San Diego (and back), thoroughly enjoying this unique combination of sharp throttle response, spot-on steering and a ride that subtly wafted over bigger bumps. Fantastic! Plus, since the car has a manual, I didn’t have to worry about the Sport Drivetrain setting blocking out top gear and hampering fuel economy.

Later, I would use this same functionality out on a mountain road. I put everything in Race but the suspension, which I put into Sport. I could have also ticked up or down on either side of Sport if the road demanded or allowed it. And by the way, this is basically what the Nurburgring mode does, along with making the interior ambient lighting befitting the track known as the Green Hell.

2024 Volkswagen Golf R radio control Nurburgring2024 Volkswagen Golf R ambient lighting green

7. No, I didn’t drift

The Golf R has a twin-clutch, torque-vectoring rear differential. That’s a great thing regardless of which Drive setting you’ve engaged, and it pleasantly doesn’t draw too much attention to itself as torque-vectoring AWD sometimes can. It just works with the rest of the car to whip itself around tight corners brilliantly.

The diff also enables that Drift mode, which lets you do donuts by overpowering the outside rear wheel and sending you into a purposeful skid. Zac Palmer tried that during our first drive. I did not. Sorry?

8. We’re doing a crap job saving the manuals

Volkswagen manuals were never the darling of the enthusiast set. Throws and clutch take-up are on the long side, and shifter feel is light and a bit spongey. This is the best VW manual I’ve ever experienced, but someone who just jumped out of a Miata would still level the above criticisms. I like ’em, though. They’re super easy to drive, which makes it easier to keep a car with a manual in the first place. I really enjoyed this one and I’m really going to miss it. I definitely wouldn’t buy a Golf R without the manual. 

2024 Volkswagen Golf R manual

9. Manual caveat No. 1

There is no automatic rev-matching in the Golf R. The car makes it pretty easy to heel-toe downshift, but I like auto rev-matching, and it’s found in the Civic Type R, GR Corolla and other surviving manual cars.

10. Manual caveat No. 2

Beware switching between Comfort and Sport mode. Because throttle response differs by drive mode, I accidentally stalled the car after putting it in Comfort after a lengthy driving stint in Sport. From a manual transmission perspective, it feels like jumping into a totally different car. You suddenly have to depress the accelerator more while letting out the clutch, and since that alters your leg timing … clunk clunk you look like a dork. 

2024 Volkswagen Golf R seat climate submenu2024 Volkswagen Golf R front seats

11. You can put the heated and ventilated seats on at the same time!

Why on Earth would you do this? Let’s say your back is sore and you’d like to apply some heat, but doing so would make your butt sweaty. This is the solution! Mercedes has let you do this for years.

12. The seats aren’t plaid, but they’re still sensational

Zac’s Golf R back in 2021 had blue plaid upholstery, which is an absolutely perfect answer to the GTI’s red plaid. Unfortunately, you can’t get that in this country – it’s just black leather. Boo-urns.

Thankfully, the seats that leather covers are sensational. Bombing around a mountain road? Grippy. Sitting on my butt for three hours down to San Diego? Supportive.

13. There’s sufficient room for a child seat

I plugged two different forward-facing child seats into the Golf R, one with LATCH and the other without, and found the experience easy both times. Hmm, it’s like people use the Golf for family transport in some countries. There was also sufficient leg clearance for my son in his seat without completely robbing the front passenger seat of space.

2024 Volkswagen Golf R back seat2024 Volkswagen Golf R IP Custom yellow

14. The ambient lighting is tied to drive mode

The downside with driving in Custom all the time is living with gauge, infotainment and ambient lighting in mustard yellow. Other colors are teal (Comfort), blue (Sport and Race, which is weird since sport is almost always red), red (Drift, which I guess makes sense now), and green (Nurburgring). My son requested some sort of pink mode. Sorry, bud.

15. There are only three colors

Dude, really? This Lapiz Blue is obviously great, but the only other choices are black and white? Lame.

16. I might get one instead of a Civic Type R …

Final price for this car is $46,890, which is a lot, but it’s fun to drive, and those seats and the 15-way adjustable suspension makes it super comfortable to drive, too. It’s also all-wheel-drive, which makes it a viable winter adventure car with different tires.

A Honda Civic Type R would be basically the same price. It too has adjustable dampers, and although I didn’t find the suspension as disagreeably firm as other reviewers have, it definitely doesn’t offer Golf R Level 1 cush. It’s also front-wheel-drive. On the other hand, it has a better manual transmission, a bigger trunk and interior controls that don’t inspire 500-word diatribes.

Perhaps the ultimate answer is “pay more for Integra Type S,” but as is, I’m still not sure which I’d choose. That I’d even consider the 2024 Golf R is rather surprising.   

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top