It's a photo finish.

Mountune made a name for itself in the tuning scene for its upgrades tailored to various Ford performance models like the Fiesta ST and the Focus RS, but as of 2019, the aftermarket experts are also fiddling with Volkswagens. Under the “M52” sub-brand created in collaboration with alloy wheel manufacturer Fifteen52, Mountune wants to spice up your current-generation Golf GTI or R.

The folks over at Carwow on YouTube got their hands on a Mountune Golf R and decided to pit it against a stock version of VW’s all-paw hot hatch as well as the more upscale Audi RS3 Sportback. With 360 bhp and 370 pound-feet of torque, the tuned R obviously had to beat the standard 296-bhp, 295 lb-ft model, but how did it fare in a drag race battle with the 400 bhp and 355 lb-ft available in the Audi?

Down on horsepower by 36 but up on torque by 15 lb-ft, the Golf R fiddled by Mountune for £1,200 not only was it able to hold its own against the Audi throughout the entire drag race, but it actually crossed the finish line slightly ahead. They were both clocked in at 12.7 seconds for the quarter-mile, but the modded Golf won “by a number plate” as nicely put by Carwow’s Mat Watson. As for the standard R, it needed an additional seven-tenths of a second.

While in the drag race the two were neck and neck, the situation was vastly different in a rolling race from 50 mph in comfort mode as the RS3 failed to keep up with Mountune’s Golf. It seems the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic of the VW kicked down quicker, allowing the tuned R to have the edge over the Audi, not to mention the standard Golf R.

In a second rolling race – this time in sport mode and in third gear – the situation was reversed as the RS3 Sportback was quicker in the beginning, and even though the modified Golf R did gradually catch up, it ultimately had to settle for second place.

As for the brake test conducted at 70 mph, Mountune’s brake upgrade (£1,000) allowed the modified Golf R to reach a full stop slightly sooner than the RS3 while showing a major improvement over the standard brakes of the regular model.

At the end of the day, it all depends on what you want. The Mountune Golf R does seem a smidge quicker than the RS3 for less money in certain conditions, but some are willing to pay the premium for the glorious five-cylinder soundtrack and the more upscale vibe offered by Audi.

Both the Golf R and RS3 are getting ready to switch to a new generation, with the former confirmed for a 2020 reveal while the latter has already been spied as a test mule at the Nürburgring.