New for 2020, introducing my 2013 VW Golf R! Though I typically am against getting a car with a similar powertrain as one I already have (2L turbo awd), the Golf R turned out to be a good fit for a number of reasons.
The main reason was that after crashing my Evo, I wanted to have a similar car that I could use as a proxy without risking the Evo at every HPDE I attend. I was originally looking at WRX’s, which were quickly ruled out due to weak transmissions. I then looked at FWD cars – Civic Si’s, GTI’s – when I decided to see how the pricing was for the mk6 Golf R’s. Turned out to be well within the ballpark when looking at higher mileage cars. With all the mk7’s on the market, the mk6’s were a little less loved than the mk7’s, making them more cost effective to run. I didn’t need the improved power or chassis, as the car was not meant to be a record setter anyway.
The other reason was that with school on the weekends winding down, I wanted to replace the Corolla as my daily driver with something I could enjoy for road trips, traveling, etc. that had the practicality of the Prius with some of the fun of the Evo. The only problem is that it’s got the MPG of the Evo as well, but not a deal breaker for me. There were a number of mk6r’s I was looking at, but ultimately decided to go with this white one from Knoxville.
The initial plan was to just get a tune and an intake, but this car ended up having much, much more, as did the others that I was looking at. Not entirely sure if the dealer I purchased the car from knew everything the car had, but it was basically a stage 2 powertrain – the intake was clearly visible, but the pictures also revealed an aftermarket exhaust. After getting underbody pictures, the car showed a full turboback exhaust, intercooler piping (indicating an aftermarket intercooler), and a transmission insert – at which point, I started getting excited, as the car was clearly more modified than I had realized or planned to do. I reached out to APR to find out what tune the car had, as the car had APR stickers and badges all over it – but APR did not tune the car.
I reached out to a few more tuners, and by luck, Unitronic responded back saying they had a tune on the car, which was their Stage 2 HPFP tune – one rated for 345hp/350lbft of torque. I was pretty ecstatic at this point, as the car would be a very strong proxy to the Evo with this level of power. I drove down to Knoxville with a buddy to test drive and possibly pick up the car. I was disappointed to find that the power felt lacking – the car overall felt a touch sluggish – not a big deal, but certainly less than I expected. There were a number of changes I knew I was going to have to make right off the bat – the decals, which I had the dealer remove, the tail lights, the shift knob, short shifter, and an odor bomb to clean up the smell, which was a cleaner smell that seemed to indicate the car may have once been smoked in.
All said, I’ve been driving the car regularly since I’ve picked it up and it’s been fantastic. The power is decent, accelerating almost as quickly as the Evo (though rated higher), and the overall usability of the car has been pretty solid. The MPG of the car is awful, rivaling the Evo’s, but on the whole, it’s been a solid daily driver. I’m almost not worried about driving the car in the snow/salt, so a little hooning on snowy days is back on the table. I’m excited to make this my track dog to do HPDEs and get seat time in place of the Evo – I imagine they will drive with some fair similarity, and am looking forward to improving my driving in 2020. An added bonus is that this car slots in nicely to SCCA’s STH class, and I look forward to autocrossing the car (with a few more modifications) as well. Stay tuned for updates on this car, and be sure to follow me @qlmotorsport on Instagram!
Uploaded the build and some pics here.