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Volkswagen Golf 1.5 eTSI DSG R-Line Review: The Cat A Golf Perfected

The R-Line is the best version of the Cat A Golf, here's why.
James Wong
James Wong
11 Nov 2023
If you’re in the market for a Cat A Golf, the $10k premium for the R-Line over the Life Plus variant feels absolutely worth it...
What we like:
Slightly sharper to drive
What we dislike:
Haptic buttons on the steering wheel

We were really impressed with the Cat A Golf which we reviewed earlier in the year, as well as the flagship fire-breathing Golf R. Now, what if we merged the utter daily effectiveness of the Cat A Golf with the svelte looks of the R?

What is special about the Golf R-Line?

We end up with something like the Golf R-Line. With the same Lapiz Blue paintwork, 18-inch Bergamo rims with lowered suspension, 'R-Line' design front and rear bumpers, radiator grille and side skirts, it could easily be mistaken for the real deal R sports hatch. Even at night, the R-Line includes a front LED light strip and headlights with cornering function, so it commands a lot of attention on the road.

On the inside, there is 'Sardegna' fabric and Art Velour microfleece upholstery that is reminiscent of the tartan that we find in GTIs. There are also 'Carbon Grey' decorative inserts on the dash and front door panels which are exactly what you’d find in the Golf R. Lastly, a leather-wrapped R-Line sports steering wheel, brushed stainless-steel pedals and one-piece sport seats complete the racy look. The steering’s touch sensitive controls are more a pain than a boon, though.

Any upgrades to the interior of the Golf R-Line?

Interior technology wise, the R-Line comes with a larger 10-inch 'Discover Pro' infotainment system with navigation and a decent seven-speaker sound system. You definitely will feel you’d have all the mod cons you need.

What drivetrain does the Golf R-Line have and is it fast?

With the same 1.5-litre four-cylinder TSI engine with Active Cylinder Management and 48 V mild hybrid drive as in the Life and Life Plus variant, the Golf R-Line feels surprisingly sporty even though it is equipped with an entry-level engine. There is a slight performance edge to this motor, so cold starts for example sound rather bassy. On paper, 0-100 km/h is done in 9.4 seconds but in reality, the power feels more usable than numbers would suggest.

How does the Golf R-Line drive?

With enlarged rims and stiffer suspension, the R-Line rides firmer on the road but it is very agreeable on a day-to-basis nonetheless. The upside is that steering is now sharper and gives more feedback, perhaps also because the R-Line is equipped as standard with Progressive Steering. It’s fun to chuck down a road, giving an added edge that is less evident on the Life variant we drove.

Is the Golf R-line worth it?

If you’re in the market for a Cat A Golf, the $10k premium for the R-Line over the Life Plus variant feels absolutely worth it for all of the upgrades you’d get and the enhancement to the driving experience.

How much is a Golf R-line?

It’s currently asking $188k - and it feels rather complete for the money.

Photos by James Wong


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