It's raining sideways on a bleak day near the trading hub of Hamburg, Germany. Destination: Berlin, 280 clicks up a stretch of Autobahn.
Weapon of choice: a 2018 AWD Volkswagen Golf R wagon painted Tornado red, with black rims, on sale here but not due to arrive in Australia until January next year.
It might be a transit stage, but there's no reason not to make it fun. And the blast awaiting us will sort wheat from chaff pretty fast. There are four of us: myself, another journo, a Volkswagen PR guy and the videographer/photographer, Chris Benny.
Before we begin, let's make one thing crystal clear. This is a quick-drive feature story more than a pure review. We'll give you a feel for the car, and save our definitive verdict for said Australian premiere in a few months. We'd be doing you a disservice to proceed otherwise.
We squeeze four big hard-shell cases and supplementary gear into the cargo area – just – then I take the key fob, and jump into the driver's seat. With about 500kg on board, the sleeper wagon sits lower than usual. But this is what it was made to do.
I pull into a truck stop with some seedy WCs 90 minutes later. Average speed, a respectable 170km/h with a convoy top speed of 240km/h – in rare patches free from standing water. Average fuel use, 11.2L/100km. Conversation nothing but quiet and civil, rolling response barely affected, the new Race mode that replaces Sport sending an even gruffer and seemingly actuated note into the cabin, though not out of the quad pipes.
This ain't quite a Mercedes-AMG C63.
Let's take a step back. The upgraded 'Mk 7.5' Volkswagen Golf R hatch recently hit Australian shores, alongside the GTI. However, the Golf R wagon won't touch down in its permanent form until January of 2018, with 300 units of the Wolfsburg Edition lobbed as a means of tiding buyers over.