The rise and rise of the limited-edition in Volkswagen’s Australian range marches on, with the brand planning the launch of the most expensive Mk 7 Golf R variant seen thus far, before Christmas. Sporting desirable but hitherto unavailable features like a high-end Akrapovic exhaust and big performance brakes, the 2019 Volkswagen Golf R Special Edition will lob in at $61,990 before on-road costs in the final months of 2018. While that price seems high, Australian buyers receive probably the best-value Golf R in the world, with this edition including a set of very expensive European market options for only a $5,500 premium over the standard car.
The Special Edition will be “strictly limited” to 400 units, Chasing Cars was told by Paul Pottinger, Volkswagen Australia’s director of public relations, citing the scarce availability of the Akrapovič exhaust, which is hand-built. Because of this, it is unlikely the 400 units will be replenished if demand is high, as occurred with the popular Golf GTI Original release earlier this year.
Recently, the all-wheel-drive Golf R lineup – the halo variant in the Volkswagen Golf hatch and wagon range, sitting above the GTI – was cut down to a single, DSG automatic-only model for 2019, priced at $56,490 in the hatch and $58,490 in the wagon.
For the bulk of 2018, three Golf R grades were offered simultaneously – and a cheaper, six-speed manual gearbox was the default transmission. The range included a more stripped-down “Grid” model (from $47,490), the ‘standard Golf R (then from $53,490), and a luxury-specification “Wolfsburg” variant (from $57,990).
The incoming “Special Edition” largely picks up where the Wolfsburg left off, though with a strong focus on mechanical variations instead of more premium cabin features. This latest iteration of the R arrives as the second-most expensive Volkswagen Golf ever offered in Australia. The 2004 Mk 4 Golf R32 was priced $1,000 higher, at $63,000.
Special the new model may be, but the basic powerplant is unchanged. Both MY2019 Golf Rs continue to use a 2.0-litre ‘EA888’ turbocharged four-cylinder producing 213kW/370Nm.
The biggest news in the Special Edition announcement is the long-awaited offer of the Akrapovič titanium exhaust system. This hand-made exhaust system has been an accessory on European-market Golf Rs for some time and it was first teased by Volkswagen Australia nearly a year ago.
The Akrapovič system introduces a meaner sound with a rortier note and distinct pops and bangs, replacing the standard Golf R’s rather sedate aural persona. The titanium construction looks distinct with perforated, gold-tinted tips – and it brings with it a weight reduction of 7kg.
Performance brakes are included, helping wash off speed more effectively. Cross-drilled front rotors measure 340 x 30mm and relieve the front end of 2kg. “These bigger brakes are less prone to fade and perform better in the wet,” Volkswagen Australia product marketing manager Jeff Shafer told Chasing Cars at the launch of the new Polo GTI in Byron Bay.
Note – in Australia, this ‘Pretoria’ wheel design will be finished in gloss black.
Though the Special Edition will hit the mid-sixties when driveaway pricing is accounted for, Volkswagen’s Australian product planning executives have secured a stellar deal, given the substantial €3,800 (currently about $6,000 AUD) charge for the Akrapovič exhaust and performance brakes in the European market. In Germany, a Golf R specified to Special Edition levels costs about €57,000 – currently about $90,000 AUD!
Special Edition Golf Rs can also be differentiated by a distinct wheel – a return to the 19-inch ‘Pretoria’ design first seen on the 2017 Wolfsburg Edition, finished in gloss black. These wheels are 1kg lighter at each corner than the standard Golf R wheel.
Black mirror caps finish the look. Four colours are offered – the expected Lapiz Blue, black and white options, plus the bright Turmeric Yellow, which makes its debut on the Golf R in this edition. Each colour features black ‘Vienna’ leather inside. A 400-watt Dynaudio stereo is standard.
The Special Edition picks up the same MY19 upgrades fitted to the updated Golf R – namely, the previously-optional Driver Assistance Package is now standard, adding adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert and automated parking as standard fit.
If an example of the Special Edition hits Volkswagen’s press fleet – which may not happen if all 400 are snapped up in advance – we’ll be bringing you a comprehensive review, so watch this space.