I just bought a brand new car and I have regrets. This is the third Golf R I’ve bought in the last 5 years, and each time I’ve had buyer’s remorse for different reasons, proving once again that I’m an idiot. Why would I complain about getting a nice car? Three times?!

Well, I’m old. Old people don’t like change so we complain that things aren’t the way they were back in our day when we used walked uphill both ways to school. In the snow. That’s because “back in our day” was when we were 9-years-old and didn’t have jobs, mortgages, or responsibilities. Of course it was great.

So let’s talk about this very nice car that I waited 595 days for. It is a 2024 Volkswagen Golf R (Mk8). I traded in my 2018 Golf R (Mk7.5) for it. And I got the 2018 Golf R after someone t-boned my 2019 Golf R (Mk7.5).

When I first saw a review for this Mk8 Golf R a few years ago, I immediately decided that I didn’t want it. I saw the interior with all of the capacitive touch control and hated it. I like knobs and buttons in my car. The Golf Mk8 didn’t even have a gas strut for its hood—it had a prop rod.

The 2018/2019 Golf R is a great car. It has a wonderful interior. Its knobs and buttons are a delight to use. It has a very tasteful cabin. If you ignored all of the VW badges, you would think you would be sitting in an Audi. There was really no compelling reason to get the new car.

2018 Golf R: Glorious buttons! Resplendent knobs! Golf ball shifters!
source: Volkswagen

The problem came when I saw the announcement for the 2023 Golf R 20 Years edition. This had more horsepower (333 PS/328 HP) and an anti-lag feature for going faster on the Nürburgring. It also coincided with my 20th wedding anniversary1. Somehow I talked myself into getting this car, even after it turned out that the U.S. version of this car did not get the more powerful engine.

And so I put my money down for a limited-edition Lapiz Blue 2023 Golf R 20 Years and waited. And waited.

The problem was you couldn’t actually order one. Volkswagen was deciding how many a dealer got, and what configuration it was. And dealers were marking them up quite a bit. The dealer I went to claimed they didn’t mark up their cars, so I stuck with them.

When Volkswagen recently said that the 2024 Golfs were the last with a manual transmission, I decided that a Pure White Golf R was also an okay color just so I could get any car before the 2025 cars came out (I didn’t want another black car, the third available color). Eventually, this is what the dealer got. And by luck, it also came with the new gray Pretoria wheel option for 2024 that I also wanted.

So why am I unhappy about getting a car that has more horsepower, better driving dynamics, more features than my old car? Because they took away some of my favorite features from the old car.

I waited a few days before finishing this post to see if that was long enough to get over my issues with this car. It wasn’t. But I will eventually get over this and at some point I will really like this car.

What Annoys an Oldster

Infotainment System

The gripe every reviewer had of this car is the lack of real buttons. The climate control is operated by the touch screen. The “buttons” on the steering wheel are capacitive touch regions. There are sliders below the screen that aren’t backlit at night.

I don’t like screen controls in cars because I mis-press buttons all the time while driving. It takes more focus to press these buttons, focus that I should be devoting to driving.

There were also complaints about it being slow and laggy. And it turns out that I can’t use Apple Music over USB (not CarPlay) to play my music on random. The system keeps disabling random play. The lack of being able to use Apple Music is my second biggest complaint about this car.

How I’m Coping

I’ve mentally prepared myself for this system so my annoyance factor was mitigated somewhat. I’m trying to figure out the best method to place my hand and modifying the screens to my taste. So far I’ve managed to raise the temperature each time I tried using the screen.

I do think there is a difference between reviewers who have a press car for a few hours or days, versus owners who figure out how to use it for daily driving. I’ll eventually figure this out for myself.

Hold My Brakes

My biggest complaint is the elimination of the Auto Hold function in North American models. This feature exists in other markets. According to the InterWebs, some indicator didn’t meet some regulation, so VW pulled this feature in North America.

What is the Auto Hold function (AVH or Auto Vehicle Hold in some vehicles)? It keeps the brake engaged whenever you come to a stop. I love this feature on a manual-transmission car, and it’s also available for automatics. It keeps the car from rolling at a stop light and does a better job at hill holding than most hill assist systems.

Missing Auto Hold
Volkswagen’s original marketing material for the Mk8 Golf R included photos of the Auto Hold feature, as seen by the button next to the Park Brake
source: Volkswagen

How I’m Coping

Yes, lazy me now has to keep my foot on the brake pedal when I come to a stop. Like an animal.

No Hood Strut

I’ve mentioned that this car has a prop rod instead of a hood strut. I’m sure removing the hood strut is a cost saving measure. But that hood is really, really heavy, and I’m very, very wimpy (see: this post).

How I’m Coping

Companies make hood struts for this car. I’ve already replaced the prop rod with a hood strut, so this is a very minor issue, although it cost me some money.

Screen Time

The customizable screen was another of my favorite feature from the old car. I liked having the navigation map front and center all the time. I also liked the skeuomorphic designs for the tach and speedometer. The best was the way the odometer changed, with the changing number scrolling up like old timey odometers.

With the new car, it has even more views, but I’m having a hard time finding ones that are useful for me. A couple of the views seem pointless. I want the same information as I’ve had before, but I can’t.

Empty Spaces
This View intentionally left blank

Actually, it doesn’t even have a traditional trip odometer. The old car had a nice one with a simple button to reset it.

Last Mk7.5 Picture
The trip odometer is front and center on the display, with a large “0.0” button under the “R” to reset it.

How I’m Coping

I am switching screens more frequently, but I’ll probably just settle on one at some point.

There seems to be a couple of trip odometers, one for fuel refills, and one more for long term driving, but they’re a bit hidden and there’s no tenths of miles on them. I’m still trying to figure out how to use them the way I want to.

Other Random Annoyances

GPS: Sometimes the navigation puts me in the wrong location (I have software version 1969). According to the InterWebs, this is Verizon’s fault, though I’m not as certain. It’s still annoying, though.

Seat Belt Latch Plate: The seat belt latch is what snaps into the seat belt buckle. In the previous model, this latch was about halfway up the B-pillar, making it easy to grab. On this car, it rests low on the seat belt webbing, hanging near the floor. So now I have to fumble around for it every time I drive the car.

Also, I seem to occasionally hit the memory seat button with the seat belt latch as I try to grab. It’s another thing to recalibrate myself for.

Windows Up: In my previous Golf R, I was able to set some codes using the Ross-Tech VCDS tool so that when the car is not running, I could close all of the windows from my kitchen just by holding down the Lock button on my key fob. I can do the same with this car, but I have to do it with the driver’s door handle. This is not so convenient in the rain.

Schutz Fahrzeug Diagnose (SFD): In theory I can change this window closing behavior using tools such as VCDS, but some of these tools are locked out by a new system called SFD (Vehicle Diagnostic Protection)2. With SFD, the diagnostic tool has to contact VW’s servers to get a one-time use token to unlock a control module you want to modify. Some tools like the OBDeleven may have this capability, so I will have to investigate.

Cup Holders: American car manufacturer’s have led the world in cup holder technology for decades. German car manufacturers like to over complicate these. The new car has a button to hold a cup, but the space behind it cannot hold a second cup still. Compare this with the system they used on the older car, where both spots uses simple spring-loaded fingers to hold a cup in. This worked very well. The rear cupholders in the old car had adjustable cupholders, whereas the new car can’t even hold a 20 oz. pop bottle in one of its two slots.

Yes, I’m complaining about cup holders.

Mk8: Fancy useless cupholders

Mk7: Simple useful cupholders

Driver Mode Settings: While this new car has memory seats (finally!), it can’t remember the driving mode I’ve previously used like the old car could. It always defaults to the Sport mode. The old car remembered the last setting you used, of course.

And the Rest…

There are few other little things that annoy me:

  • so-so sound system (Harmon Kardon)
  • can no longer close the HVAC vents
  • shift knob no longer a golf ball (or dimpled)
  • wireless charger only heats up phone, doesn’t actually charge it
  • car payments

Old Man Shouts at Clouds

There was a time when I couldn’t care less about these annoyances. If a car was fun to drive and I could play my music in it, I was happy. This new Golf R is about a 1.5/2.0 on that scale. A bit of software updates could push that to 2.0/2.0. There are some nice new features in this Golf, but I have to dwell on the negatives for a bit. However, at some point I have to stop whining and just drive.

Finally, no one should feel sorry for me. People should be mad at me for whining about having a nice car. I will update this in a couple of weeks after I’ve recalibrated my clutch foot and accepted the dumbness of these controls.

My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.
—Michael J. Fox

Don’t worry, be happy.
—Bobby McFerrin


Ha. The Humble Mechanic came out with a video right after I posted this.

Crankiness Rating:

Regrets, I’ve had a few—usually about my hair style choices. Let’s not talk about those.