2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet review
It comes loaded with bespoke styling upgrades, including 19-inch alloys, a unique bodykit, gloss black door mirrors, grille and rear diffuser, and chrome dual exhaust tailpipes. Its ride height is also 25mm lower than the regular Golf Cabriolet's.
VW originally priced the car at an eye-watering £38,770. However, heavy criticism of this has prompted a quick rethink; it now costs £33,170.
This is still a considerable sum for a Volkswagen Golf, especially one that doesn't feature sat-nav as standard - that costs an extra £730.
To add to the R's problems, you're paying well over £30,000 for a car that isn't even based on the latest Golf platform; instead it uses the underpinnings from the previous, Mk6 car.
The Golf R Cabriolet isn't off to the best of starts, then, but can it make up for that in other ways?
What’s the 2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet like to drive?
It's certainly fast. The 261bhp 2.0-litre turbo engine fires it from 0-62mph in just 6.4 seconds – nearly a second faster than the next-quickest Golf Cabrio, the GTI.
However, getting all its power down through the front wheels can sometimes be tricky. On wet roads, pulling out of a junction with even half throttle kicks the traction control into action as the wheels start to spin.
The standard DSG automatic gearbox gives smooth and timely gearchanges (although we find the steering-wheel-mounted paddles best for enthusiast driving), and there's enough grip in the dry to ensure you're confident enough to exploit all the performance on offer.
The steering is quick, although it's unnecessarily heavy and you need to keep a firm grip on the wheel to stop it writhing under hard acceleration.
The tweaks to the Golf R Cabriolet’s springs and dampers have created a firm and jittery ride. Higher speeds help to disguise this, but on patchy urban roads there’s too much shudder through the steering wheel and the whole car thumps over bigger bumps and potholes.
You can also feel the body flexing, which further unsettles the car on rough road surfaces.
What’s the 2013 Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet like inside?
The cabin is comfortable and well finished and, with the roof up, the R Cabriolet is refined enough to be your daily runaround if you can live with the firm ride.
The leather sports seats are supportive and there are some nice touches to show you're sitting in the range-topping R model, including blue needles on the dials, logos on the door sills, along with numerous aluminium and chrome highlights splashed around the cabin.
There are just two seats in the back, but they're roomy enough for adults, so the Golf Cabriolet is a genuine four-seater. There's also a useful 250 litres of boot space – even when the roof is down.
Standard equipment includes a DAB radio, Bluetooth, iPod connection, heated seats and climate control. However, with a £33k asking price, we think sat-nav should really be standard.
Should I buy one?
The updated starting price of £33,170 makes the VW Golf R Cabriolet's price much more palatable, and distances it from the larger four-seat convertibles from Mercedes and BMW that you could have had for similar money.
However, the R's biggest problem is still that it has a more rounded rival from within the same range – the Golf GTI Cabriolet does much the same job. True, it’s a second slower to 62mph, but it's just as much fun to drive and is £3400 cheaper.
Even with a price cut of more than £5000, then, the VW Golf R Cabriolet is hard to recommend.
What Car? says...
BMW 135i M Sport Convertible
VW Golf GTI Cabriolet
Engine size 2.0-litre turbo petrol
Price from £33,170
Torque 258lb ft
0-60mph 6.4 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 34.4mpg
CO2 emissions 190g/km
By Vicky Parrott and Ed Callow