The Best Courtesy Car In The World?

Let’s not beat around the bush, I don’t think anyone has got excited at the term ‘courtesy car’. And that’s because there’s a – well earned, in my opinion – preconception of said cars being a little bit, well, sh*t.

It’s their very nature, I suppose. Essentially, courtesy cars only exist to get someone to tide someone over until their own car is back in action, an exact situation I found myself in quite recently with Project GTI.

The plan was always for the Wavetrac install to take two days, so I knew I’d be at someone else’s mercy for travel arrangements over at least one evening. Thankfully, I was under Regal Autosport‘s mercy, and as it turns out, its is not the typical courtesy car.

I’m familiar with the MQB platform and have previous experience driving a Mk7 Golf R on track. I was still quite excited, although I can’t say I made much use of it on the first night, as having been awake for close to 48 hours I was only fit for sleep, and lots of it. My vague recollection of the 20-minute, bleary-eyed drive to the hotel can essentially be summed up in one sentence following a stark realisation as I merged onto the motorway: the speedometer reads in miles per hour and not kilometres per hour as I had first thought.

2016 VW Golf R Regal Autosport by Paddy McGrath-3

Regal had told me to take my time in returning the next morning, but instead of enjoying a lie in, I instead went for a little bit of an explore in the Golf R.

From factory, the Golf R is a 4WD and 300hp hatchback that’s quite quick out of the box, if not a little bit reserved. As seems to be the case with most of the fast factory VWs, it’s almost as if Volkswagen build absolute monsters but then dial them right back to being civilised again. Most might never appreciate just how much potential these cars have in reserve.

It doesn’t take a lot to exploit this potential either. Regal has opted for several subtle modifications to maximise the performance of its Golf R, which it uses for development and for regular track days. The first part of the puzzle is an AWE Tuning SwitchPath exhaust system which conforms to the Jekyll & Hyde nature of the car. When set to ‘Off’, the exhaust note is a little louder than stock but by no means uncomfortable, nor does it take away from the drive. When set to ‘On’, I’m pretty sure the Golf can be heard in the future as the valves and witchcraft inside said system open and make some noise.

What’s quite satisfying though is that whilst almost hilariously loud, it still produces a distinct sound, rather than just noise, if you get what I’m trying to say. You can hear the turbocharger spooling at the bottom of the revs before it’s replaced with a guttural roar that will 100 per cent attract the attention of anyone within a five mile radius. Lift off and you’re greeted with some of the best pops and bangs of overrun that I’ve heard in quite sometime. Subtle it is not.

2016 VW Golf R Regal Autosport by Paddy McGrath-12

Needless to say, I spent my morning with the exhaust permanently switched to ‘On’. Is it anti-social? Yes. Does it make you smile and giggle like you’re a child again? Absolutely. Even at low speed, the constant little pops and rumbles coming from the car are a joy to anyone who has even a hint of petrol running through their veins. The best part is that it can be switched back to relative civility at the press of the button, so you have full control over how anti-social you would like to be. Also, it keeps the noise limit testers at race circuits happy.

As I was saying before I got distracted by memories of terrorising quaint English villages, the Golf R doesn’t require a huge amount of work to release its potential. From a hardware standpoint, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder TSI in Regal’s car has only been treated to an Integrated Engineering intercooler and a large-bore intake hose. APR Stage 2 software, for both the engine management and DSG, provide a pretty impressive performance bump to the tune of 380hp with 410lb/ft of torque. For a street car, it’s the torque that’s most impressive and what you rely on most when driving on the street. There’s no need to rev the engine out to make power, it’s just always there.

Whilst the wheels remain the factory items, there’s a little bit more going on behind them. An 8-piston Tarox Super Sport big brake kit provides the additional stopping power with Bilstein B16s and Integrated Engineering top mounts to assist in the cornering department. The car is fitted with the almost unrivalled Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s.

2016 VW Golf R Regal Autosport by Paddy McGrath-18

I only had the Golf R for a little over 12 hours, but it was quite an easy car to bond with. It was ferocious on a backroad and took a lot of time to readjust to just how fast it was. In normal traffic, it was a pleasure to drive. On the motorway, the torque allowed such effortless overtakes and merging manoeuvres. And in start-stop traffic, the DSG made the situation so much more bearable.

Try as I might though, I couldn’t talk Regal into a straight swap for Project GTI. I wonder what the going rate for a kidney is these days…

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos

Cutting Room Floor
2016 VW Golf R Regal Autosport by Paddy McGrath-10
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2016 VW Golf R Regal Autosport by Paddy McGrath-25


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LOL I personally prefer getting a shitty courtesy, car so I still like my own car most cases it's my own foldable courtesy bicylce thoug.  :)


nice thought i recogised that petrol station. how you liking southampton?


You've turned absolutely every situation into an adventure and a story for the past few weeks, Paddy. I enjoyed reading that. I've seen this R many times, but would love to get to drive it properly at some point soon. These Golf 7Rs, with just a small amount of tuning, are proper license losers, though. Quicker than they have any right to be, especially with DSG!


You are making me want a Golf!
Also, as Ben mentions, these bite sized stories are a joy to read.


We we're hugely impressed with the Golf R's when we got a passenger ride around Donington Park at the VAG tuner show earlier this year. My brother was in this one and I was out another white one with Airlift suspension fitted and Ryan Stewart installed behind the drivers seat!

Massively impressive cars! I love reading these little bit size reports of what you've been up to. Keep them coming Paddy and I'm looking forward to the next instalment!


Ben Chandler agreed!


koko san In fairness, shit cars have their charm too.


lewby I didn't get to see much and my hotel was in Gosport!


DaveCox The world needs more fast Golfs.


Jay_TrackAddict Really glad you enjoyed it!


Paddy, got to say, awesome job in delivering us this short, medium and long stories. It is always great to read something developed by you because you really know how to show us the Speedhunters life. Nice photographs as well. Cheers


My Uncle Chase just got an awesome year old Honda Accord Sedan by working part time online.


"VW: it's not all dubs and camber"


Looks badass with those big quad pipes, would like to hear the sound they make.


EvolveWRC Someone had just posted a couple of videos here, but they seem to have vanished. I'll try find them myself...


Paddy McGrath EvolveWRC I need a Golf R!


Paddy McGrath lewby Oh dear. Im so sorry.


If VW would simply switch to Japanese electronics, I'd buy one without question.
Every single person I've known who owned one, sold it due to electrical gremlins.


bakayaru I've not sold mine due to electrical gremlins, if that counts.


My Uncle Hudson just got Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class CLS63 AMG by working parttime online... view it


what Kathy implied I'm taken by surprise that a person can get paid $8216 in 4 weeks on the internet . learn this here now


what Marvin responded I am stunned that a single mom can get paid $6207 in 1 month on the computer .  See it here and click on FINANCE option for more INFO====ᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵ


damn im surprised those brakes fit under factory wheels.
exhaust gurgles I dont mind so much... DSG farts on the other hand, are called that because they sound like ass.


I am more and more impressed by these top-shelf Golfs, but I suppose I really shouldn't be too surprised given VAG's pedigree from the Group B days. Exhaust sounds right proper!


my best frend got a nearly new silver Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT from only workin part-time on a pc... see it here


Leroy P You tend to lose the 'farts' once you go away from the stock exhaust system. They evolve into pops and cracks and upshifts.


I prefer project gti :)


My Uncle Carter recently got an almost new green Jaguar XF XFR only from working


The shot at the pump... is that Market Harborough by any chance?


My Uncle Thomas recently got Audi S3 

by working part time from a home computer.


410lb/ft. Is that a misprint or not? When you extract that much torque out of a 2 Lt engine then reliability and driveability will suffer.  That is almost as much torque as a 4L Falcon Turbo (yes Falcon has twice the displacement). BMW M4 with 3 L turbo produces a fraction less torque than this 2 L Golf. Come on check your figure!


my Aunty Victoria just got a fantastic metallic Ford 

just by working online with a lap-top............


The village being Titchfield and a shot of the arse end of Stubington going into the 40 zone.. could have shown you some really good roads no more than 10 minutes from there!


I am dazzled that a stay at home mom can profit $8898

in a 3 weeks on the internet ..........

see more at----------->>>


My Uncle got an awesome silver Dodge Caliber Wagon 

by working part-time from a macbook air.


James Cortez The numbers are correct, a stock Golf R can run up to 500lbs/ft on standard internals reliably.


Shaun Mint Er, maybe? Is Market Harborough in Southampton?


iProGam3r I just wish mine was this quick!


my gf's dad just got BMW X6 M SUV just by some part time working online from home... look at her


James Cortez
my gf's dad just got BMW X6 M SUV just by some part time working online from home... look at her new


So Paddy, I was right when I said that you have a softspot for VW in your favorable opinion on your articles one year ago regarding DIESELGATE? Still believe that it's not that big deal? What is more important for you - to really tell the truth or to have a nice courtesy car ar nice project car (all VW of course)?