2015 Volkswagen Golf R

2015 Volkswagen Golf R

Episode 3449
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

The MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Award for best small car for 2015 was awarded to the new Volkswagen Golf family. Primarily because with the TSI, TDI, GTI, SportWagen, and even an e-Golf, they cover all of the bases like no other small car series. Well, it turns out they’re not done yet, as they’ve now unleashed Wolfsburg’s latest pocket rocket on the US, the Golf R.

Regular viewers of MotorWeek are no doubt a little weary of our incessant praise of the new Volkswagen Golf and GTI. If that’s the case, you might want to change the channel for about the next 5-minutes, as we’re about to go all “fan-boy” once again about this 2015 Volkswagen Golf R. 

All-wheel-drive is part of the Golf R’s platform of course, a Haldex system that stays front-biased, but can send up to 50% of corner carving grip to the back tires. But, that extra hardware does push weight to a hefty 3,340-lbs.

Under hood, is a familiar VW and Audi mechanical; a 2.0-liter I4 turbo. And while that’s not a lot of motor in size, it cranks out a sizable 292-horsepower. Plus, a seemingly continuous delivery of 280 lb-ft. of torque throughout the rev band, makes it feel like even more.

This time around, just the DSG automatic transmission is available at launch, and a 6-speed manual won’t arrive until next year. But as you may already know, we’re very fond of the DSG. Driving Mode Selection gets a new Race mode, and you can further upgrade to optional Dynamic Chassis Control that lets you dial in an ultra-stiff ride, should you so choose.

Regardless, the Golf R is an absolute blast to drive. And really, it doesn’t feel much different than the GTI that we love so much until you go heavy on the throttle and let it spin up to glory. 

The interior finish is great! This car looks and feel like it’s worth every penny you spend on it; think more Audi than base VW. 

There’s plenty of room, a simple and effective layout, with logically placed controls. The upgraded sport seats are awesome at holding you tight, but comfortably so; in a Teutonic snuggle sort of way. 

The GTI is certainly no slouch when it comes to the handling department, but here on the Shenandoah Circuit at Summit Point Motorsports Park near Charlestown, West Virginia, the Golf R hunkers down and scoots through corners even better than your wildest expectations. 

Despite a soft overall feel, there’s plenty of grip to be had; as no matter how much throttle you’re carrying, this chassis, can put power in its place, and of course that’s on the pavement. 

ESC can now be fully turned off, but Sport Mode is absolutely great, letting you have quite a bit of fun, before the electronics step in to keep you pointed where you should be. 

As for complaints, this course’s tighter turns and many shifting opportunities had us wishing for bigger shift paddles, as with all of the constant shuffling they were sometimes hard to find. 

But of course in a straight line, leaving the DSG in full auto is really where it’s at. Mash the gas, hold on, and 4.9-seconds later, we’re at 60 miles-per-hour.

The Golf R launches off the line smartly with its all-wheel-drive grip, with a snappy and raspy exhaust note all the way down the track for a quick quarter at 13.7–seconds at 103 miles-per-hour. While a short 115-feet is all it took to stop from 60 miles-per-hour.

On the street, the Golf R is even more impressive. It feels very substantial for its size, with a dialed-in solidity like no other small car. It’s agile and wanting to be thrown around, and is the very definition of confidence inspiring.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 23-City, 30-Highway, and 26–Combined; we averaged a very good 28.3 miles-per-gallon of Premium. The Energy Impact Score is 12.7-barrels of oil used and 5.7 tons of CO2 emitted yearly. 

Alas, perfection never comes cheap. In this case it starts at $37,415, and is available in 4-door only. Those numbers may scare away a few, but in this world, it’s the unafraid that are truly rewarded.

So, don’t think of the 2015 Volkswagen Golf R as just a sportier GTI, think of it as everything you’d ever want a Golf to be and a bit more. And really everything you’d want in a sensible sport-hatch as well. If you’re perfectly happy with your GTI, do yourself a favor and don’t test drive the “R”, so you don’t know what you’re missing.

Specifications

  • Engine: 2.0 liter
  • Horsepower: 292
  • Torque: 280 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 4.9 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 13.7 seconds @ 103 mph
  • EPA: 23 mpg city/ 30 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 12.7 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 5.7 tons/yr
2024 Lexus GX550

2024 Lexus GX550

It’s A Land Cruiser With A Lexus Badge

Episode 4344
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

When most people think of Lexus SUVs, they tend to think of the RX, and for good reason. The RX was a key player in popularizing the luxury SUV market as we know it today. But, the Lexus SUV world is much bigger than that, of course, including something for adventurous, rugged, off-road types.

We’re not about to claim that there’s some kind of body-on-frame SUV resurgence happening, but it’s clear that car-like crossovers haven’t fully taken over the SUV world just yet; and more than any other brand, Toyota seems on a mission to make SUVs truly great again. Even when it comes to their Lexus brand with this new 2024 Lexus GX550.

When the first gen GX arrived for 2003, it seemed to go out of its way to disguise its substantial off-road capabilities behind some very soft-roader sheet-metal, but those that knew… knew that underneath, the GX was based on the rugged J120 Land Cruiser. Fast forward to this third-gen GX, and it looks like Lexus is fully embracing that Land Cruiser kinship going boxier and bolder than ever before. Square lines, chunky fenders, wide track, short overhangs, highly vertical windshield; all hallmarks of serious off-roaders.

The GX is also the first Lexus to benefit from their Overtrail Project which encourages Lexus owners to get out of their comfort zones and experience what their luxo-ute is actually capable of. So, Overtrail models are outfitted with 33-inch all-terrain tires on 18-inch wheels, a locking rear diff, and an Electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that can independently unlock both front and rear stabilizer bars for more wheel articulation.

2024 Lexus GX550 3/4 Front
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2024 Lexus GX550 Profile
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2024 Lexus GX550 3/4 Rear
2024 Lexus GX550 Wheel
2024 Lexus GX550 Badge
2024 Lexus GX550 Grille
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Just like the recently released Toyota J250 Land Cruiser, the GX is built on Toyota’s Tundra truck frame, but instead of a four-cylinder turbo-hybrid, it’s launching with a 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6 with 349-horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. That’s 48-horsepower and 150 lb-ft over the previous GX’s V8. Max tow rating shoots up from 6,500 to 9,096-lbs. The GX works exclusively with a 10-speed automatic transmission, with full-time four-wheel-drive and a two-speed transfer case standard. Lexus says a hybrid option will be available later, but no word on if it’s the Land Cruiser’s 2.4-liter I4 hybrid or the V6 hybrid that’s currently available in the Tundra pickup.

It doesn’t take much time behind the wheel to appreciate the high seating position and great visibility of the GX; as rugged as it looks outside, it still feels plenty luxurious inside, and is highly functional too. There’s a big control center in front of the dash with a high-mounted 14-inch touchscreen, and dedicated knobs for temperature and volume just below. A third row of seating is available in most trims, providing space for six or seven passengers. But if you go Overtrail, Lexus assumes you’re not the big family type and would rather have the space for packing adventure gear, so it’s the only trim that is five-passenger only.

As rugged as it looks outside, it still feels plenty luxurious inside, and is highly functional too.

While the double-wishbone front and rear multi-link suspension of this Overtrail is clearly off-road inspired, it held up well enough in our Mason Dixon Dragway handling course. Slow and steady definitely won the race here, as the GX felt big and heavy, with notable weight shifting on transitions through the cones, and light steering. Stability systems were eager to kick in well before things could get out of sorts.

Buyers can add Lexus’ Adaptive Variable Suspension for smoothing things out on the highways without sacrificing off-road capabilities. It launched quite aggressively off the line in acceleration runs; again, sturdy and truck-like, with all four wheels biting into the pavement and propelling us forward harder than we were expecting, hitting 60 in 6.5 seconds.

2024 Lexus GX550 Dashboard
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2024 Lexus GX550 Infotainment
2024 Lexus GX550 Shifter
2024 Lexus GX550 Front Seat
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2024 Lexus GX550 Trunk
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Lots of grip and no drama, as this turbo-six puts plenty of power down instantly. It sounds good too; powerful, with a nice throaty exhaust note that was more of a V8 rumble than V6 trumpet. Quarter-mile completed in 14.9-seconds at 94 mph.

Braking runs were a little inconsistent, with the off-road tires seemingly gripping and pulling us in different directions. But stops averaged a great 114-feet from 60 mph, so we’ll accept the slightly unsettled feel.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 15-City, 21-Highway, and 17-Combined; we averaged a respectable 20.1 mpg of Premium. But it garners a worse than average Energy Impact Score of 17.5-barrels of yearly oil use, with 8.3-tons of CO2 emissions.

Pricing starts with Premium grade at $64,250, ranging to Luxury at $77,250, with Overtrail in between at $69,250. All trims can be plus sized for additional features.

The 2024 Lexus GX550 is clearly not just another luxury saturated soft-roader. It’s a real deal Land Cruiser with a Lexus moniker, and this Overtrail is the most off-road capable Lexus ever. That not only makes it appealing to traditional Lexus buyers, but to a whole “range” of new conquests as well.

Specifications

  • Engine: 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6
  • Transmission: 10-speed automatic
  • Horsepower: 349
  • Torque: 479 lb-ft
  • EPA: 15 City | 21 Highway | 17 Combined
  • 0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.9 seconds at 94 mph
  • 60-0 Braking (avg): 114 feet
  • MW Fuel Economy: 20.1 mpg (Premium)
  • Max Tow Rating: 9,096-lbs