Nearly new buying guide: Volkswagen Golf Mk7 GTI/R

A nearly new Golf GTI/R is better than a brand new Golf GTI/R

The seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI may not be the most popular hot hatch, but it is because the Golf R, which is faster and more capable, is better.

You’ll need a Honda Civic Type R for track days and Broad thrills. However, no other hot hatch can match the combination of performance, athleticism and refinement that is the GTI or the R. VW dealers have overflowing stock of approved used stock at half of the cost of a new vehicle.

In early 2013, the GTI was born, just a few months after the sixth-generation Golf had been replaced by the lighter and more efficient Mk7. The GTI produced 217bhp with a turbocharged four pot and was fast without being excessively acceleration. The GTI is also available in Performance specification for buyers who need faster acceleration and more than PS25.845.

The GTI Performance had 227bhp but was only slightly faster. It was also fitted with larger front brakes and an limited-slip differential which made it much more enjoyable to drive. It was an easy choice for keen drivers, as it cost only PS980 less than the regular GTI.

Mk7 GTIs are available starting at PS13,000. However, PS15,000 can be extended to older cars with less than 20,000 miles. VW’s approved used program, Das WeltAuto, includes a 12-month unlimited mileage warranty and roadside assistance for the same period. Each approved used VW is subject to a 142 point inspection by certified technicians.

You can specify either a manual transmission or DSG dual-clutch transmission on both versions of the GTI. Both are very impressive in their own ways, and come with three to five doors. GTI Performance isn’t as common, so you’ll need to be more picky about paint colours and spec options. Prices start at PS16,000.

The best argument against spending that much on a GTI Performance car is the Golf R. It can be purchased for about the same amount, but with a higher mileage. Prices for the Golf R were just PS30,000 when it was introduced in 2014. The R had two more driven wheels, 296 bhp, and a superbly tuned suspension. It was a much better value than the GTI, and the price difference is even slimmer today. The R is available in three- and five-door configurations, and can be ordered with either manual or DSG transmissions. However, the DSG is preferred in this instance.

A four-year-old, PS16,000-year-old Golf R will cost PS296 per month if you pay down PS2000 and sign up for a 36-month finance arrangement. There is an optional final payment of PS7470. No matter how much you pay for your Golf hot-hat, it is worth getting a warranty car at half the cost of a new one.

BEWARE OF BUYERS

EngineOil consumption is constant. Make sure that the oil level is approximately half of what it should be. Check the thermostat housing and water pump for leaks. Some turbos may have failed, so make sure to check the exhaust for white smoke.

TransmissionMake sure that the DSG ‘box has a fresh filter and fluid at 80,000 miles, if applicable. First and second gear changes should be made abruptly from cold. Check that the Haldex system sends drive to the rear wheels on the Golf R. If it’s not, make sure the AWD control module fuse and the Haldex pump are both OK. It should be serviced at least once every 30,000 miles.

WheelsCheck the alloys for white corrosion spots and kerbing. The Pretoria wheels, an optional and expensive option, don’t hold up well to potholes. So make sure you inspect them.

BodyVerify that the radar brake assistance and auto cruise systems work properly. Make sure the sunroof is not leaking.

InteriorYou must be able to tolerate the creaks and rattles that will result from the firm suspension. The infotainment system must work without freezing. Also, make sure that the heater system is working properly (the matrix could fail costlyly).

You need to be informed

The optional 19in Golf R wheels are wrapped in low-profile rubber and can be damaged by potholes. They cost PS800 per corner. Bridgestone tyres are priced at PS120 each.

Oil changes will be required for the Golf R’s Haldex four wheel-drive system and GTI Performance’s limited slip differential every three years. Although in many cases the transmission and differential fluids are the same, they do not always work together.

Owners of Golf GTI have reported problems with their rear dampers. They can leak fluid after a few years. Although a replacement VW part can be inexpensive, some owners opt to replace their entire vehicle with aftermarket Bilstein dampers.

Our choice: VW Golf R

Although it is a bit more expensive than the GTI and has fewer features, the Golf R is significantly faster and easier to drive. It can also be used every day. The R will likely retain more value due to its high reputation.