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Volkswagen Golf R Mk6: Buying guide and review (2010-2013)

Volkswagen Golf R Mk6: Buying guide and review (2010-2013) Classic and Performance Car
Volkswagen Golf R Mk6 Volkswagen Golf R Mk6 Volkswagen Golf R Mk6
There ain’t no substitute for cubic inches… is what they used to say, and for decades we swallowed the line. But then came downsizing and turbocharging, and today everyone’s at it, from Ford to Ferrari. So you could say that Volkswagen was ahead of the curve with the Mk6 Golf R. When the company announced in September 2009 that the replacement for the Mk5 R32 and its 3.2-litre V6 would be nothing more exotic than another turbocharged 2-litre four-pot, many lamented the passing of the über-Golf. That was until they drove the Mk6 R… 
 
Truth is, the 3.2 was always a little bit flabby and flaccid. The pumped-up 2-litre TSI actually kicked out more power (266bhp versus 246) and torque (258lb ft plays 236) and it weighed a useful 35kg less, too. With drive still going through all four wheels, the 0-62mph figure was slashed by around a second to 5.7sec with the six-speed manual ’box or 5.5sec with the paddleshift DSG semi-auto. The R was a similar chunk quicker than the regular Mk6 GTI, which had to make do with 207bhp.
 
The 4Motion system featured a centre diff in the form of a Haldex clutch to distribute drive to the wheels with most grip. The EA113 engine (taken from the Mk5 Golf because it was better suited to tuning) benefited from a reinforced block, a new cylinder head, uprated pistons and conrods, and high-pressure fuel injectors. It also got a new turbo that puffed 1.2bar of boost and a more effective intercooler to deal with the increased thermal load. 
 
All of which makes it a natural for further tuning: plenty of examples have been remapped to well over 300bhp.
The ride height was lowered by 25mm compared with the Mk6 GTI and the springs and dampers tweaked for sharper responses, though ACC switchable adaptive dampers were a cost option. The brakes featured impressive 345mm discs up front with ‘R’ monogrammed calipers.
 
To help justify the £30,000 price tag (seven grand more than the GTI at the time), the R was distinguished by 18-inch ‘Talladega’ alloys (also available as a 19-inch option), a subtle bodykit and twin, centrally sited exhaust tailpipes protruding through a gloss black diffuser. The interior was pretty much carried over from the GTI, with Recaro seats as a highly desirable optional extra.
 
Performance and specs
 
Engine In-line four-cylinder, 1984cc turbo 
Power 266bhp @ 6000rpm 
Torque 258lb ft @ 2500-5000rpm
Transmission Six-speed manual, four-wheel drive
0-60mph 5.7sec (claimed)
Top speed 155mph (claimed)
Fuel consumption 33.2mpg
Insurance group 36

Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 2578mm
Length 4212mm
Width 1779mm
Height 1461mm
Kerb weight 1521kg
 
Common problems
 
• The EA113 engine is generally strong and reliable – even when tuned to over 300bhp – as long as it’s serviced meticulously. Andy McLeish at VW/Audi specialists APS advises every 10,000 miles or 12 months, whichever is sooner. 
 
• Its one weakness is premature wear of the fuel pump cam follower, which in turn scores the camshaft. The good news is that replacing the follower is an inexpensive service item; finding out if it’s been done can provide a clue as to how well a car has been cared for. 
 
• Also look out for a leaking water pump and check the cambelt has been changed at four years or 60,000 miles (and the water pump replaced at the same time). Budget around £300 from a specialist.
 
• Some early cars (mostly 2010) suffer from failure of the Haldex pump. This is the electronic pump that generates the hydraulic pressure to push the plates in the centre diff together and send the torque to the axle with most grip. Floor the throttle in the lower gears and if you notice more than the slightest hint of wheelspin, it probably points to a problem with the pump. Reckon on £400-500 to have a replacement fitted. 
 
• And it makes sense to get the rear propshaft donut replaced at the same time. Haldex oil/filter needs changing every two years.
 
• The manual ’boxes are generally robust. If you feel a juddering when moving off, it’s probably the dual-mass flywheel on the way out – not cheap, and it makes sense to get the clutch replaced at the same time, so the total bill will be well over a grand. If you get the car mapped, you’ll need an uprated clutch.
 
• If you’re going to map the car, the DSG ’box can’t handle as much torque as the manual, but generally gives few problems if properly maintained: it’s vital the oil and filter are changed every 40,000 miles to avoid overheating or the clutches burning out. Check both the automatic and the manual shifts for speed and smoothness.
 
• There are no particular issues here beyond normal wear and tear witht the suspension. Creaks or knocks could point to wear in the front suspension top mounts. Dampers should be checked for leaks, and springs for breakages. 
 
• The ACC dampers seem to give few problems. If the ABS light and/or the ESP light is illuminated, beware. It could be a fault with a sensor (not too expensive to fix) or it could be that the ABS pump-control unit needs replacing, which costs more than £1000 from VW.
 
• Check for uniformity of panel gaps and any overspray, which could indicate accident repairs. Interiors are holding up well, so any signs of excessive wear or damage to the trim would suggest the car has lived a hard life and better examples can be found. 
 
• The CAN Bus wiring system can give problems, so check all the toys work.
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
• vwroc.com
• golfmk6.com
• autops.co.uk
• quattro-tech.co.uk
• awesomegti.com
• vagtech.co.uk
• volkswagen.co.uk/used
 
Summary and prices
 
Around £15k is the entry point to Mk6 Golf R ownership, but these can be high-mileage cars with less-than-watertight service histories. £16-18k brings a wide choice of low-to-average-mile cars with good provenance within reach. £20k will get you the pick of the very best late, low-mileage, one- or two-owner cars with a full VW service history. Sought-after ACC switchable dampers and Recaro seats command a premium.

Words: Peter Tomalin/evo
Volkswagen Golf R Mk6 Volkswagen Golf R Mk6 Volkswagen Golf R Mk6
Last updated: 4th Aug 2016
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