Sascha Knapp is in Europe's ice box - in Arvidsjaur, Sweden, where it's minus 25 degrees Celsius. He's here to test the 221-Kilowatt Golf R. He doesn't expect to get anywhere near the rated 7-point-one-liter fuel consumption, though - he's here to practice driving on ice.
But before our car tester can get out on the frozen lake, he has to take a special driving safety course. The Volkswagen Driving Experience training course runs the world's northernmost driving safety center here. Depending on the weather, Arctic automotive adventurers can come here to get experience driving on ice and snow between February and late March.
Driving instructor Benjamin Leuchter has the participants turn doughnuts, so they can learn to control a drifting car - a situation they don't encounter every day out driving in the city.
For the day's first exercise, the participants learn about drifting and their cars - among them, no less than the most powerful Golf that VW has to offer. And that's the car we're going to take a closer look at.
Any driver who's experienced the Golf R in action on snow and ice will hardly want to go back to dry roads. Turning doughnuts is more fun. This is the sportiest series-produced Golf - and it looks it. It proudly wears the R on its grille - and on the rear, so other drivers can see what just drifted past them.
Back on the ice, this Golf's been used as a dogsled without the dogs. The front air intakes have to be cleared of snow to keep the two-liter turbo four-cylinder engine from overheating - in spite of the cold.
Benjamin Leuchter says everyone should take some driving training once a year. The instructors themselves take training every year. He says it's important to get a fine sense of how the car turns on the ice. That's what drivers can learn at the Volkswagen Driving Experience in Sweden.
The 380 Newton-meters of torque have to kept on a tight leash. The standard all-wheel drive grips the road and helps to push the Golf R from zero to one hundred in five-point-one seconds.
Sascha Knapp would be happy just to BEGIN to learn to drive like this.
Benjamin Leuchter tries to give his students a good start in just four days - depending on the driving experience they bring to the training course.
Benjamin Leuchter is highly impressed with the enhanced engine performance, with its 300 horsepower pushing all four wheels. He says the car is a success all around. He especially likes the new Haldex drive coupling, saying it responds much faster than the one in the sixth-generation Golf R.
He says the car is easy and safe to drive, even for the average Joe. It's easy to control in extreme situations. Driving the Golf R on ice is almost addicting - he can hardly let go of it.
The Driving Experience here in Arvidsjaur, Sweden is definitely not cheap, but Sascha Knapp has seldom had as much fun in four days - especially not in a Golf R. So to him, the visit was well worth the price.