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The hot hatch has always been close to my heart, in the days of being in the motor trade I had a string of them, Saxo VTS, MG ZR160, Civic Type R's and now I have a BMW M135i, a few years back the Megane RS250 was also my daily drive. The Volkswagen Golf R has been heralded as the one for the competition to beat, under £30,000, four wheel drive, 300 bhp and mated with the DSG gearbox an all round 5 door family hatchback with more then enough power for those early Sunday morning blasts in the countryside. After owning the M135 for nine months I was looking forward to driving the Golf R, could it be a worthy challenger to the Beemer which is by far the best car I have ever owned, 320bhp, rear wheel drive and the eight speed auto box with the straight six engine is a great combination. The first three cars I ever owned were Golf's, a pair of MK1 1 litres and then a MK2 Driver, a GTI look a like without the high insurance premiums. I guess I had always wanted to own a GTI so to drive this even hotter version was full of anticipation, Euro Canterbury had given me the keys for a couple of hours, today was more about driving the car then photographing it, but with camera gear in the boot I took a few anyway. The photographs were taken in a country park, lit with a single speed lite off camera, just to add some fill in light to the images on an overcats but dry day.

The acceleration stats speak for themselves, the sprint from rest to 62mph taking a claimed 4.9sec (or 5.1sec if you opt for a manual six-speed ‘box rather than the DSG double clutch transmission). This puts it on a par with the M135, having four wheel drive means that the grip is there instantly, the BMW in damp conditions struggles for traction as the rear wheels are driving all of that power from the 3 litre turbo engine. There is a sports mode which stiffens up the steering and also adds an angrier sound to the exhaust, sadly and noticably it is enhanced by a sound generator, the downside to a four cylinder turbo charged engine. My first addition would be a Milltek exhaust to override the fakery noise which when compared to the 6 cylinder BMW is chalk and cheese, the six pot has a real character and tone that is great when changing up or done through the gearbox. Anyway down to the drive, good seats and perfect driving position make you feel at home right away. There is something familiar about the cabin and look of the car, I guess as the perfect hot hatch should be, comfortable and unassuming, the only giveaway some subtle R badges and the quad exhausts, yes this car has four exhausts.

The car drives perfectly, the four wheel drive system puts all of the power doe instantly and turn in is so positive, an absolute joy to drive knowing that the car is always pointing in the right direction. The ride is good as well, this car didn't have the adjustable dampers which would be an addition for me, just to give it a tighter stance and a bit more feedback to the driver. Having said that this car in pretty much standard form is great and anyone could drive it without feeling too intimidated by its immense power. And on that note is my only negative feedback on the car (along with the exhaust note), it just feels too perfect, in the wet it would be the perfect car with the 4WD system, but on a dry road it doesn't for me have the edginess of the rear wheel drive M135. I probably at a bit bias towards the BMW as I have lived and breathed it for nine months and 12,000 miles and got to know its characteristics. One note worth mentioning is that the R was on optional 19" alloys, after having these on the Megane I would opt for the standard 18's as they give a better ride and still look good.

So would I buy one, to replace the BMW its a tough call, my only thought is that in this country with our weather the R might be the perfect all rounder, so its an option. I don't think anyone would be dissappointed with the cars looks, comfort, drive and power as you really wouldn't want for any more. Although VW have spread even more rumours about a Golf R400 this week, would I want an extra 100 bhp, I think we all know the answer to that one!
BLOG 2015