VW Golf R Cabriolet

18 Feb, 2013 5:30pm Luke Madden

We drive the new 261bhp VW Golf R Cabriolet, which will cost £38k when it goes on sale next month


If the Golf R Cabriolet cost roughly the same price as the Golf R hatch, then it would be easily recommendable. But with a price tag that's £7,000 more than the hatchback and with less impressive handling, no four-wheel-drive system and slower acceleration, the R Cabriolet is difficult to justify. That’s not because it’s bad at what it does, it’s actually very good fun and it’s a great long distance car. It’s just not good enough to pick over a Porsche Boxster for the same price.

The Golf R Cabriolet is the fastest ever soft-top Golf and – you’ll notice – it’s based on the Mk6 Golf, rather than the latest Mk7. It’s a last hurrah for the outgoing model and one that is crucially different to the hatch on which it’s based.

Most obviously that’s because it’s now got an electronically folding fabric roof, but there’s more to it than that. The 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, for example, produces 261bhp – 5bhp less than the R hatchback – and while that car has four-wheel drive, this one makes do with front-wheel drive because the additional driveshafts can’t be squeezed in to the new strengthened chassis.

Less traction, less power and a kerbweight 94kg heavier than the hatch has a predictable effect on performance. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes almost a second longer, at 6.4 seconds, and it shows on the road.

There’s much less of a thump in the back from the Cabriolet and on anything but the warm, dry roads of our test route, there’s bound to be a fair amount of wheelspin as it tries to deliver all that power to the road. When the tyres do grip there’s still a frantic rate of acceleration, but not in the same way as in the hatch.

On the plus side, the R Cabriolet is great in the corners, with its wide tyres and stiff suspension endowing it with plenty of grip and agility. The steering is direct but could do with a little more feedback, and anyone that has driven the hatchback version will notice a fraction less sharpness from the Cabriolet. Going quickly through bumpy corners will reveal a little bit of flex in the chassis and a kick through the steering column, too.

It does look the part, though, with the same aggressive bodykit as the hardtop model, standard 19-inch wheels, a gloss black grille and twin-chrome exhaust pipes at the rear. Unlike the hatch they’re mounted either side of the rear bumper, rather than in the middle.

The Golf R actually excels when it comes to comfort and refinement. Our car did have the adaptive dampers specified, which allows you to select Comfort mode and make the best of bumpy roads. Even in Sport it’s not too uncomfortable, just a little more jittery.

And with the clever roof in place, the Golf R is extremely quiet on the motorway, with none of the wind whistle or creaks that some cabriolet tend to have. That makes it a genuinely usable long distance car.

The Cabriolet’s biggest problem isn’t anything to do with the way it drives – it’s the price. At £38,770, it’s about £8,000 more than a GTI Cabriolet, £7,000 more than a Golf R hatchback and about the same price as a Porsche Boxster. If you don’t need the rear seats you could have one of the best driver’s cars on the road for the same money - and in that sense, the Golf R Cabriolet just can’t compete.

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39k for a Golf oh dear i'll have a boxter thanks.

My thoughts exactly I wouldn't buy a Golf when you can have a Porsche which is 1000 times better for the same money

Outrageously overpriced. Always loved Golfs, but happy I now have my cheaper BMW M135i ..... very happy indeed.

Good luck in fitting 4 or even 5 people in it.

Different market - one is a 2 seater, the other a 4/5 seater. Both the VW and the Porsche are fantastic cars.

It is not over priced compared to it's competition, for what is an extremely high quality vehicle - in any case many people who buy Golfs these days are seriously well healed, so money is no object to them. I have loved VWs and BMWs, but I'm sure many people would much prefer to own this Golf rather than your BMW which, at the end of the day, is a lower quality, and extremely over priced little car, albeit with good handling/engine.

Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaaaa, that's hilarious!

Nearly 39k for a GOLF!!!? That's gotta be the joke of the century.

It's the cheapest hatchback in Europe to build (check out the build times on a Golf compared to a Focus for example) and it's got only an average reliability record, yet some people reckon it's comparable to a Boxter (2-seats, I know), M135 (not a cabriolet, but FAR superior), an A5 Cabriolet 2.0TFSi (37k), Audi TTS Roadster 2.0TFSi (38k) and many others.
Also, you LOSE 4-wheel-drive, oh, and best of all . . . wait for it . . . IT'S A Mk.6!!!!! Yer havin' a Giraffe VW!!!!
Is it April the 1st??? :-)

Lee... I've got to ask, given you think this Golf is over priced... why then are the cars you've listed worth what they are asking??????? Surely they too are "'Aving a Laugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" At the end of the day, they're all metal boxes on rubber wheels. Sit in the Golf, and the interior feels just as good the others you mention - in fact way better than the 1 series. The metal is just as thick, if you give it a good kick! Look at the engine , and it's just as powerful, just as smooth - if not better...... I could go on and on..... because the cars are directly comparable...... Where is your price differential exactly?... and more importantly, why shouldn't the Golf cost just as much as the cars you quote above? For God's sake... they're hardly hand built Rolls Royces!!!!!!!!!!... they too are based on mass produced cars, and if they can charge £30k+ for those cars, then so can VW for this Golf!!!!!!

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

I have a saying regarding prices and value: "Who's the fool?, the fool that charges, or the fool that pays?". Volkswagon WANT to charge a ridiculous price for this car, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain:

EVERYTHING has it's value, be it a book-case or a 2ct Diamond Ring, even to the billionaire. For example, if VW had charged £45,000 for the GOLF R cab, would you still be defending it's honour? No, well there is a limit to what YOU percieve is acceptable for a Golf (wonder what that is). You, my freind, have been 'marketed'.

The Mk.6 Golf is not a car that should be mentioned in the same sentence as an A5, an M135 or a Boxter, the quality is simply not there. I've sat in a Mk.6 on many occasions and it is OK at best lacking visual flair, finish and integrity (compared with the afformentioned). BTW, you say that these are all based on mass-production cars, I would have to disagree on that, the A5 platform is bespoke [to Audi], the 1-series platform spawns nothing else cheaper and the Boxter, well we all know that is half of a 911!!

VW probably expect to sell less than 100 of these in the UK (there is always a few fools), but every mag and online motoring website will be testing it and liking the car very much. It IS a very likeable car, but then, so is a DS3 Sport or a Focus ST, being likeable does not permit exalted prices. Even with such low volumes, the marketing boys at VW will be rubbing thier slimy little paws vigorously as we 'speak'; "Job done" they'll claim.

They have single-handedly and subliminally installed the perception of a 38K Golf, in your mind, which will pave the way for the next Mk.7 Golf R Cab. When they launch that for maybe 37K, you [and many others] will automatically proclaim that it is 'Good value'. It is not.

Lastly, compare a Golf R Cab with a Golf GTi Cab and the problem becomes clearer still: A GTi costs approx £35,285 when specced to the same levels as the R. Sure, the R has more power (big deal, just turn up the boost), but that's about it! The R doesn't even get Sat-Nav (unforgiveable) and electric door mirrors!!!

With Sat-Nav, Metallic Paint and leccy door mirrors, the Golf R Cab costs a whopping £40,140.

My case is rested.

The thing is Lee, you've said nothing at all to justify your view. All you've said is that this Golf R is not worth the money compared to the other cars, and that anyone who buys it it is a fool.........eh?... so where is your justification? You've not answered my question! (which was why should the cars you've mentioned be worth more than this open topped Golf R??) Further - and I find this amazing - you are totally contradicting yourself by saying that BMW can be an exception to you're thinking, and push out 1 series (...a 1 series for God's sake!) at over £30k - I hate to say this, but that is ALSO based on a £16,000 small family car!!! (which is supposed to be a direct competitor to the Golf - albeit a poor competitor according to every comparative review ever made!).... but that is the very same thing you've just said that VW is not allowed to do with the Golf!

So, getting back to a discussion on the worth/value of vehicles... let's take two cars out of the discussion here... the 1 series (as per your own argument!), and, obviously, the Boxster (which shouldn't be compared with any of the cars here - I'd agree it's absolutely fabulous (it is my dream car - it's a shame I need 4 seats!) - the quality is immense, and to me it's a stunning bargain. That Porsche IS worth far more than any of the cars listed above and in my opinion, and is under priced compared to other vehicles on sale today - so let's not discuss that car.

Therefore is the Golf R convertible (and the 135i for that matter) worth as much as the two Audis? - of which I should say you see zillions banging up & down the motorway every day!!... with diesel engines!!!

YES, is the undeniable answer. The reason I give is that the two Audis have nothing at all tangible that can justify any extra cost above this Golf (other than "foolish" snobbish "perception" & "badge") - which I truly believe is incredibly sad for anyone who likes cars - as this snobbish attitude therefore nearly always limits them to just 3 (over priced & over hyped) makes - IE BMW/Audi/Merc. I will retort "it is.... You, my friend, that has been marketed". Thankfully, I am not limited by those factors, and can look at a vehicle - see it's worth and buy it irrelevant of what the neighbours think. Now - who is the fool? If you think the Audis you mention have extra justification for asking more for their vehicles then , then I'd like you to list them? Extra metal?.. extra power?.. better fit?... extra quality?... extra goodies?.... extra engineering prowess?? Maybe there are cows with Audi stamped on their backsides?... errr the leather is the same!! No!!! No!! No!!!.... no!! None of those are true. So where the difference exactly? I'm sad to say, that it's in the "badge".. isn't it? Oh Dear. And I have sat in all of them... and I can tell you for a fact, high end Golfs at at least as nice to sit in as the A5!! If you don't think so, then we'll just have to agree to disagree on that one - but I'll tell you one thing - there's no doubt that the Golf is head & shoulders a nicer place to be than a 1 series - which you think is worthy of the money!!

The bottom line is that ALL these cars are WAY over priced (Golf included) - BUT, you're getting just as much for your money in the Golf R as the other cars you've mentioned - and that is precisely my point.

If you really want to see how over priced ALL of these vehicles are then just go and sit in a Kia and you'll see what I mean, but to say that a Audi convertible is somehow worth more than a top of the range Golf convertible (which is a stunning car in it's own right) is just complete nonsense... and foolish if you're spending your own hard earned cash.

Key specs

  • Price: £38,770
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo
  • Transmission: Six-speed DSG, front-wheel drive
  • Power: 261bhp
  • 0-62mph: 6.4 seconds
  • Top speed: 155mph
  • Economy: 34.4mpg
  • CO2: 190g/km
  • Equipment: Leather seats, Bluetooth, climate control, electric roof, 19-inch alloys
  • On sale: 5 March 2013