If the GTI is the icing on Volkswagen’s Golf shaped cake, the VR6 is the glacé cherry on top. Designed and pitched directly at the six cylinder 3 series, the VR6 had a more luxury orientated spec. It was fitted with softer suspension than its GTI brother and more options. As such, it’s a gentleman’s ‘bahn stormer. Not a hot hatch.
Personally, I never liked Volkswagen’s Golf VR6. I don’t know why. It just never appealed to me. I was actually looking for an Audi S2 Avant but just couldn’t find “the one”. Out of pure curiosity I had a peek on Pistonheads to see what VR6s were going for. That’s when I spotted this bargain…
A 1997 model, with one private owner from new, and with only 80k miles on the clock. All backed up by a comprehensive service history. Only downside? It’s a repaired Cat D write-off. The mere mention of an insurance category always seems to scare the uninitiated. That’s fine. More bargains for me!
My first drive was in the damp. Getting out of my 2.0 8v Mk3 Golf estate and into this was an eye-opener. Such relentless pull from idle, but with a 16v-esque kick at 4k. I spent most of my first drive with the wheels spinning in first, second AND third! Then there’s the noise. If you haven’t heard a VR6 at full chat, you’re missing out. VW’s quirky narrow angle V6 with unequal inlet tracts is a unique sound. A sound that’s much more exotic than you would expect from a 90s hatchback.
I’ve had the car for almost a year now and I still love it as much as that first drive. It’s been good to me too. Maintenance has been reasonably simple. Bar basic servicing, it has only needed a rear handbrake cable (stretched over time), a thermostat housing (very slight crack) and new number plate lights (corroded over time). The Golf currently needs front suspension top mounts and the airbag ignitor ring changing (common fault). Modifications are limited to a RamAir induction kit that I chose because it came as a full kit that includes all pipework and mounts needed to fit straight on. This does nothing more than allow you to really enjoy that unique VR6 sound. The car came to me on the correct size 205/50r15 tyres but they were Firestone Fuel Savers and actually useless. I was offered a pair of barely used 195/50r15 Yokohama PARADA spec2s and so I decided to source another pair of tyres in the same size. Personally, I love them. So much so, I’m currently trying to find suitable 15 inch wheels for the Corrado so I can run them on that too!
The engine is actually quite Jekyll and Hyde. It’s happy enough to waft about at under 2.5k and deliver very surprising MPG figures. I’ve seen 37mpg on more than one occasion. Not bad for a 15 year old 2.8. Don’t dismiss this as a boring engine though. Oh no. As stated earlier, the VR6 loves to rev too. As the needle approaches 4k, the tones changes and the car powers through pulling strongly to the redline of 6500rpm.
In summary, it is a fantastic all-rounder. The downside for me is the fact that it’s not an estate. Although, the VR6 will drop straight into a Mk3 Golf estate… Hmm…
You can follow Aaron on his Twitter page.