I came up with a new plan, wife approved, to sell both of my cars (yes, my Alfa too - long story) and this fall-ish get a new daily driver that’s not, however comfortable, specifically designed to be non-threatening to middle-aged, middle-management Japanese men who think a BMW is too hardcore, nor a boring 3-box economobile.
Obviously I want a GTI. I drove a 2017 SE, which is probably the trim I’d go for, and fell in love. I drove a mvVII a couple of years ago, but it was a base model without the performance pack. Did have a manual, though. This was a DSG, which is, frankly, the one I want. This car was different than the original mkVII. So little torque steer that I didn’t care. Super tight chassis. Comfortable. Driving modes that produce noticeable changes. Excellent ergonomics and interior quality. Gutsy little motor. Slam bang gearshifts. Stunningly good brakes. I wanted it.
But I’m tempted by the Golf R. We can afford it, that’s not a problem. Is it worth an $8k premium though? Chris Harris says so. Matt Farrah says so. Lots of people say so. And they’d know, because they got to drive one.
Not me, though. Even speaking withe manager, explaining it was really down to the GTI or the R, he said no. He explained if I liked the GTI, then I’d love the R. I’d essentially already driven the R, anyway - it’s really just faster than the GTI. To which I replied that’s not enough to convince me then. He cam back with sales points on the DCC and the handling and the AWD (well, Haldex, but close enough). Again, I said I couldn’t decide without driving it. He sort of shrugged and said it’s corporate policy and there’s nothing he could do about it.
He then suggested I go uptown to Audi and test drive a new S3. It’s the same car, albeit many thousand dollars more. If I liked that car then I’d know I liked the Golf R.
I said that’s stupid. I mean, it makes some practical sense. But Jesus man, what sort of sales strategy and customer service is that? You’re interested in buying our car so drive across town and try a competitor’s (even if it’s the same company) to find out if you like it? And stupidly enough, when I called Audi and told them this, the sales manager laughed and said come on over, and he’d even try to work some deals in financing and with my trade to cover most of the different between the two cars (still almost $7k, but still)! He even has a CPO lease return for the same price the VW dealer wants for the R.
I experienced this years ago when the WRX STI came out. The dealer wouldn’t even let you sit in it. It just sat on the showroom floor with its doors locked, until someone paid $40k for it, sight unseen, much less an actual test drive. I’m going to call around and try to find some dealer somewhere within a short distance of Austin who’s willing to let me drive one. But again, I reiterate, this is ridiculous. I’m 42 years old, I have a clean driving record, full-coverage insurance, an above average salary for the metro area, and I know many things about the car; more than the salesperson (no Haldex isn’t full-time AWD just like a Subaru, and yes, the R has adjustable magnetic ride, which the GTI does not).
I call shenanigans.