Ever since I’ve had the chance to review the Golf R and the Golf GTi, I really wonder how good can the Golf R-Line be compared to its siblings. During the launch of the mk8 Golf line up, Volkswagen Malaysia gave us an opportunity to drive the Golf GTi and Golf R-Line back to back on the circuit. While this may be a very short test drive, the Golf R-Line does feel softer when compared to the more athletic Golf GTi. Then again, this does not represent the full potential of the Golf R-Line, as it was designed to be the more comfortable cruiser of the bunch. This time around, I’ll be taking a closer look at the base spec Volkswagen Golf R-Line, and see if it manages to live up to the Golf nameplate.

For the exterior, the Golf R-Line remains a sporty looking hatchback despite being the entry level model. The sporty look of the Golf R-Line is further enhanced by the contrasting black color trims that are available on the front bumper, side skirt, and the rear bumper. On the front bumper, it looks rather aggressive, especially the huge grille that stretches across the bumper. While the large grille does give the Golf R-Line a more distinctive look, the gap between the slats are really huge, and you can clearly see the AC condenser sitting in there. I would highly recommend owners to add a mesh grille on it if possible, this is to prevent random stones from flying into the front bumper, and damaging the AC condenser.

While both the Golf R and the Golf GTi get signature contrasting color strips around the vehicle, the Golf R-Line comes with a more toned down chrome strip to fill the gaps. Around the vehicle, the Golf R-Line still features the R logo on the front grille and also on both of the front fenders. But at the rear, the location underneath the VW badge will get a more subtle Golf lettering instead. To keep the cost down, the Golf R-Line also loses the electrically folding door mirrors just like the Golf GTi. But unlike the Golf GTi, the Golf R-Line comes with a set of 17-inch rims instead of the 18s found on the Golf GTi. This set of 17s actually looked rather dull when compared to the larger rims, but the thicker side wall on the 225/45 R17 tyres does provide a better ride comfort.

Inside, the entry level Golf R-Line did not feel like a base spec vehicle at all. The interior still comes with the 2 large 10-inch displays, which are being used as the instrument cluster and infotainment screen. Volkswagen Malaysia also retains the interior ambient lighting, and this allowed the interior to look and feel even more upmarket in the dark. While it’s nice that the Golf R-Line comes with the above mentioned features, cost cutting still has to come from somewhere. So for the Golf R-Line, Volkswagen Malaysia chose to ditch the wireless charger and the auto-hold function for this variant.

As for the seats, the Golf R-Line uses the same seat design as the Golf R and the Golf GTi. But for the Golf R-Line, the seats are now wrapped in gray cloth and suede materials. With the use of these materials, it also indicates that the front seats lose out on the heated and ventilated functions. On the plus side, the cloth seats feel soft to sit in, and it’s very comfortable to sit over long distances. Compared to the leather seats on the Golf R and the Golf GTi, I actually preferred the cloth seats in the Golf R-Line, which is much nicer to sit in.

Powering the Golf R-Line is the familiar 1.4L turbocharged 4 cylinder engine, which also powers a wide variety of Volkswagen Group products. And for this new Golf R-Line, Volkswagen has replaced the 6-speed DSG with an 8-speed automatic transmission that is sourced from Aisin. This 1.4L turbocharged engine has the ability to produce 150PS at 5,000-6,000rpm of peak power, and a peak torque of 250Nm at 1,500-4,000rpm. The Golf R-Line can accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 8.5 seconds, but Volkswagen Malaysia did not specify the top speed of the Golf R-Line.

Comparing it to the Golf R and the Golf GTi, the Golf R-Line comes with a rather muted engine. This is to be expected from the Golf R-Line, as this variant was meant to be the family runabout. With this turbocharged 1.4L engine, the Golf R-Line didn’t have much trouble keeping up with the traffic. Among the different small capacity engines from Germany, the 1.4L turbocharged engine in the Golf R-Line is the smoothest in its class. And thanks to the 8-speed automatic transmission, this 1.4L engine also returns an impressive 7.0L/100km fuel economy figure.

Personally, I think Volkswagen has done a great job by choosing the 8-speed automatic transmission. Apart from the improved fuel economy, this transmission also made the powertrain feel more robust. While the gear change is smooth, the 8-speed automatic transmission does not change gear as fast as the DSG. This is particularly obvious during the downshifting operation, where there is a gap between pulling the paddle shifter and the transmission downshifting.

The part that I really liked about the Golf R-Line, is the way it handles through the corners. This is thanks to the quick and direct steering system, and the electronic differential lock to keep the car tidy in the corners. The Golf R-Line is also equipped with sports tune suspension, which keeps the car flat when driving on the twisty roads. While this sports tuned suspension feels softer than the Golf GTi’s suspension, it still feels rather bumpy when going over bumps and uneven roads. Thankfully, the thicker tyres and softer seats do provide a certain level of cushioning for the occupants.

For a regular run of the mill Golf R-Line, the brakes are surprisingly large, and it’s probably the same size as the Golf GTi’s. The brakes do have strong braking performance, and it also provides plenty of confidence to the driver when braking. In terms of the driver assistance system, it’s close to non-existence in the Golf R-Line. I know Volkswagen Malaysia tries to keep the cost down, but I think they should consider featuring a driver assistance system on the Golf R-Line. This is because most Golf R-Line will be driven by non car enthusiasts, and they will use the vehicle to carry out mundane tasks. The Volkswagen Golf R-Line comes with 6 Airbags, Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, ABS, BA, ESC, ASR, EDTC, ICRS, and XDS.

The asking price of RM 170,560.00 can be quite a lot of money for a small hatchback, but the Golf R-Line actually sits in a very unique position. Its main competitor comes in the form of the A200 and the 118i, and both vehicles are priced much higher than the Golf R-Line. After test driving the Golf R-Line, this vehicle instantly climbed to the top of the list of vehicles that I would recommend in a heartbeat. The Golf R-Line is a vehicle that you can use daily, and still provide the driver with plenty of smiles on a weekend drive.

Check full photo album here.