Cars & Bids Bargain of the Week: 2013 Mk6 Volkswagen Golf R

2013 Mk6 Volkswagen Golf R on Cars & Bids highlights:

  • The Mk6 Volkswagen Golf R doesn’t have a VR6, but it’s more powerful and more refined than its R32 predecessor, and arguably more fun than the 2022 model
  • A tuned 2013 example with 116,400 miles is currently listed on Cars & Bids at $10,000
  • Although not pristine, this 2013 Golf R’s service history seems to indicate future reliability with or without the removable mods

One of the great blends of usable performance and practicality, the hot hatch hasn’t abandoned the US yet. However, the latest version of the segment’s current champion, the Volkswagen Golf R, isn’t quite a slam-dunk upgrade over its predecessor. Sure, the 2022 Golf R is fast, but its GTI counterpart, flawed as it is, offers more fun for less money. Fortunately, there is another affordable solution: a used Golf R like the 2013 Mk6 model currently listed on Cars & Bids.

The Mk6 Volkswagen Golf R ditched the R32’s VR6 but brought even more speed

A red 2012 Mk6 Volkswagen Golf R 2-door driving down a road
2012 Mk6 Volkswagen Golf R 2-door | Volkswagen
2012-2013 Mk6 Volkswagen Golf R
Engine2.0-liter ‘EA113’ turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower256 hp
Torque243 lb-ft
TransmissionSix-speed manual
Curb weight3390 lbs
0-60 mph time5.8 seconds

While the GTI is firmly etched in hot hatch lore, it’s not the spiciest Golf. In the early 2000s, Volkswagen decided to shove its burbly VR6 into a Golf alongside an all-wheel-drive system. The result was the Golf R32, which was only briefly sold in the US across two generations. But that small taste was enough for VW fans to clamor for more.

That clamor was enough to bring the R32’s sequel here, the 2012-2013 Volkswagen Golf R. Based on the Mk6 Golf, the 2012-2013 R has AWD, but unlike its predecessor, doesn’t use a 3.2-liter VR6. However, its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes more power and torque. Plus, like the R32, the US versions of the 2012-2013 Golf R were only sold with manual transmissions.

When it was new, the Mk6 Volkswagen Golf R competed with the likes of the Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. And in that company, the German hot hatch comes up slightly short dynamically, MotorTrend reports. The Lancer Evo and WRX are sharper and faster, as well as cheaper when new.

However, compared to the Mk6 GTI, the Mk6 Golf R was a better-handling hot hatch, MT notes. Its AWD system gave it tons of grip and eliminated the FWD GTI’s slight tendency for torque steer. Also, thanks to its firmer suspension, bigger brakes, and quicker steering, the Golf R is more neutral and fun around twisty roads. Yet, there’s no ride-quality penalty.

That’s where the Golf R stood above the WRX and Lancer Evo: refinement. It cost more, but it came with a “high-quality” interior and refined driving experience, MT says. Rather than a WRX rival, the Mk6 Golf R is basically an Audi TT RS at a significant discount. And now that it’s a used car, that discount has only gotten bigger.  

There’s a 2013 model with APR parts on Cars & Bids right now

A gray modified 2013 Volkswagen Golf R parked on the snow
Modified 2013 Volkswagen Golf R | Cars & Bids

As was just noted, the Mk6 Volkswagen Golf R is a luxury-leaning hot hatch. And the well-equipped 2013 example currently listed on Cars & Bids demonstrates that well.

In addition to the features mentioned earlier, this 2013 Golf R has adaptive bi-xenon headlights with washers, heated side mirrors, heated front sports seats, leather upholstery, keyless entry, and dual-zone climate control. Also, it has a power-operated sunroof, body-colored rear spoiler, heated windshield washer nozzles, Bluetooth, and navigation.

On top of that, this Mk6 Volkswagen Golf R isn’t stock. For one, it has an APR Stage 2+ ECU tune. So, depending on which octane is in the tank, the engine makes up to 351-379 hp and 394-404 lb-ft. It has the requisite supporting mods, too, including a CTS cold-air intake and turbo-back exhaust. But if the ECU tune doesn’t fly with you or your state’s emissions testing, the sale includes the APR dongle to flash it back to stock.

A 2013 Volkswagen Golf R modified with an APR tune and CTS cold-air intake
Modified 2013 Volkswagen Golf R EA113 engine with cold-air intake | Cars & Bids

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Because backup cameras weren’t mandatory in 2013, the seller replaced the stock rear VW emblem with a rearview-camera-equipped one. That camera feeds into the aftermarket MIB RCD330 head unit, which also gives this car Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. However, the seller is including the stock rear emblem and head unit with the sale.

As a nine-year-old car, the 116,400-mile reading on this 2013 Volkswagen Golf R’s odometer is reasonable. Admittedly, it has some cosmetic flaws—some scattered scrapes and paint chips, a broken grille slat, some interior creases, and minor underbody corrosion—and had a minor accident in 2015. However, the damage was reportedly cosmetic, hence this car’s repainted bumper.

But this Mk6 Golf R has plenty of service records. The seller changed the timing belt in 2020 along with the spark plugs and front brake pads and rotors. In addition, this hot hatch comes with a full set of two-year-old Blizzak winter tires and a fresh oil change.

Will a tuned Mk6 Volkswagen Golf R be a reliable hot hatch bargain?

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As of this writing, this 2013 Volkswagen Golf R is listed at $10,000 with three days left in the auction. That’s roughly 30% less than the cheapest Mk6 Golf R currently listed on Autotrader, which is admittedly stock. That also makes it roughly one-fourth the price of the 2022 Golf R.

Admittedly, used Volkswagens, especially modified ones, sometimes have a reputation for less-than-stellar reliability. As always, a pre-purchase inspection is recommended. But it’s worth noting that, while the EA113 engine isn’t perfect, it didn’t have some of the issues the later EA888 ‘TSI’ engine faced.

Also, the EA113 is more amenable to tuning, especially if it’s well-maintained, PistonHeads claims. Judging by the oil change intervals, this Golf R likely qualifies. And as noted earlier, the seller already replaced the timing belt, so that’s one less potential problem to worry about. Since this is a manual R, the only major remaining issue might be the high-pressure fuel pump’s cam follower, but upgraded replacements are fairly easy to install.

So, this Mk6 Golf R could be an affordable way into refined AWD hot hatch fun. And it won’t have the 2022 model’s weird capacitive-touch issues.

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