The VW Golf R and Audi S4 aren't direct rivals, but that didn't stop the good folks over at Edmunds to line them up for a couple of drag races. Not the usual kind as these are called U-Drag races since the cars perform a U-turn and then return to where they started. It would've made more sense to bring the S3 Sedan – well, the S3 Sportback but it's not sold in the US – but it is interesting to see how the two cars fare in an acceleration test.
With an advantage of 34 horsepower and 74 pound-feet (100 Newton-meters) of torque, you'd be tempted to say the luxury sedan has the edge. However, the S4 is substantially heavier since it carries around an extra 487 pounds (221 kilograms) compared to the Golf R. The gearbox also plays a vital role in a drag race, hence why it's important to point out the VW uses a dual-clutch setup. Then there's the novelty factor as the compact hatch came out recently whereas the sedan has been around for quite a while.
2022 Volkswagen Golf R: Review
Although the S4 is the better all-rounder of the two cars, the Golf R does a better job in terms of driving dynamics and is the more exciting of the two cars for enthusiasts. The S3 and RS3 deliver more smiles per gallon, but the S4 adds a layer of sophistication. Of course, the not-for-USA RS4 Avant takes things to a new level in terms of performance and practicality.
The outcome of the drag races hosted by Edmunds leaves little to debate as the Golf R was unquestionably the quicker car. Even with S4 Sedan's quicker reaction off the line in the first duel, the hot hatch still managed to take a comfortable win. Lest we forget VW is also selling a more fun version of its range-topping Golf by offering a six-speed manual you can't have on the S4. That brings a deeper level of involvement no DSG can ever match, even though these dual-clutch autos are always quicker to shift.
In the first U-Drag, the Golf R did the quarter mile in 13.1 seconds at 108.9 mph whereas the S4 was two-tenths of a second slower and had a lower trap speed of 104.8 mph. The full run took 36.4 seconds in the case of the VW, which crossed the finish line while doing 115.5 mph. As for the Audi, it needed 37.3 seconds and was traveling at 112.4 mph at the end.
The subsequent U-Drag put the Golf R in the number one spot once again, with a quarter mile in 12.8 seconds at 102.7 mph while the S4 took 13.3 seconds at 104.8 mph. The full course took 36.8 seconds to complete at 112.5 mph for the VW and 37.6 seconds at 110.6 mph for the luxury sedan carrying the Four Rings.