South Africa is sadly one of the last markets to receive most kinds of vehicles due to our location, volume, and propensity for right-hand drive. As such the two vehicles we drove on launch have been out for two years already in Germany but we can now rejoice as the R is now here. We drove the new Tiguan and Golf R models on launch.
Power of Passion
It is no secret that South Africa is one of the largest markets outside of Germany when it comes to performance VWs. Our locals are hardcore fans of the GTi and ClubSport as well as the previous generation of Golf R.
Volkswagen SA has gone to bat for our local market and has fought tooth and nail to get an allocation of the latest iteration of the Golf 8 R and the fantastic new Tiguan R. The first allotment of these cars has arrived locally and we were able to sample both on the winding roads of the Western Cape and it was worth every second that we’ve waited for them.
The new to us Golf R is nothing short of a powerhouse. It is very subtle in its appearance as with a cursory glance it is not revealing much about its performance credentials. The 19-inch Estoril wheels and quad exit exhaust being the biggest giveaways. A closer inspection will reveal blue detailing and model-specific R badging as well as matt chrome detailing on the bumpers and mirror caps. The aggressive front bumper with its large air dams is also a dead giveaway for what lies beneath the sculpted bonnet. Around the back and R-specific rear bumper houses the black lower diffusor and a glance down the side reveals side skirt extensions and a body that has been lowered by 20mm leading to a very aggressive-looking package but the R is more than just looks.
A 2.0l turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol engine, mated to a 7-speed DSG transmission burbles away up front pumping out 235kW and 400Nm which will rocket the Gold R towards the horizon in the blink of an eye. Dynamic Chassis Control keeps the vehicle firmly seated while you attack bends that would make a sports coupe blush. A gentle prod of the accelerator will see the R lurch forward with the familiar DSG crackle from the optional titanium Akrapovic exhaust system on the upshifts with an addictive crackle on the downshift when braking for the corners.
There are a lot of very familiar touch and feel aesthetics that you will find with our current 8th Generation GTI that we had quite a bit to say about. Although the R was worth the wait it would seem we are going to wait a little bit longer as we are only due for stock arrival at the beginning of 2023 and Volkswagen SA cannot offer us or give an estimate on price for now.
The new Tiguan R is a beast unto itself, sporting 21-inch Misano wheels and rubberband-like tyres that do make for a very sporty but hard ride. The Tiguan doesn’t get the house of R treatment but a healthy enough dose of styling attributes that are sure to separate these models from the standard Tiguan models. Flared arches allow for a sportier stance on the road and the optional 21-inch Estoril wheels IQ Matrix LED lighting ensures a bright road ahead along with the requisite blue radiator trim and new R badging. The Tiguan R is powered by the same drivetrain found underneath the Golf and has the same power outputs, but the two drives could not be any more different. Where the Golf R had a steady planted feel the Tiguan had a more airy ride while still sitting solidly through the corners and blasting down the straights.
Both vehicles will be available with a host of optional extras ranging from the Akrapovic exhaust system and Harmon Kardon sound system to driver assistance packages and Black Styling pack that will include the now infamous “Drift Mode” on the Golf R only. Both vehicles are equipped with a dedicated R button on the steering wheel which is the shortcut to the R modes, these being Comfort, Sport, Race and Individual. Activating Comfort softens the ride, dulls the throttle response and closes the exhaust valves making the R very reasonable to drive, Race livens things up again, sharpening the steering and sharpening the throttle response whereas Race, well that is pretty self-explanatory, this makes the R a pure driving machine with all its pops, crackles and pinpoint steering.
The Tiguan is truly a pleasure the drive and is more than enough rival for its competitors. The BMW X3M and Mercedes-AMG GLC43, as well as Audi RSQ3 stablemate, will all be vying for enthusiasts’ money but it surely going to be for the Tiguan to win.
Naturally, the price tag has been a point of contention for many, The Tiguan R begins at R 999 900 without any optional extras and as we know ticking just a few boxes is going to push that into the million rand+ bracket.
This however is not going to deter any of the individuals that will be completely besotted with the Tiguan R and when taking into account the competitors that it is going up against, the magnificent drive it delivers, and the comparative pricing, Volkswagen is going to sell these hand over fist.
The new Golf R and Tiguan R are absolutely fantastic machines and deserve all the praise that is being heaped on them. Many will say that a million rand for a Tiguan is madness but I will defend Volkswagen here, The R is an incredible achievement in a market dominated by people movers and is rubbing shoulders with very premium performance products and as such has earned the right to ask six figures for what is essentially a bonkers family SUV that delivers time and time again.
Lawrence MinnieLawrence has been involved with motorsports for almost 30 years. Whether it's two wheels or four, if it has an engine, he will try to race it. This love of motor vehicles has led him to ride, drive, film, photograph, and write about his passion. Freelance for a while but now a permanent fixture on the AutoTrader team for over 7 years, Lawrence contributes written, photographic, and video content for AutoTrader and AutoTrader Bikes.View News & Reviews