Concept provides blueprint for new uber-Golf from Volkswagen’s R division
12 January 2015

The Volkswagen Golf R400 is looking increasingly likely to make production.

The mega-hatch concept, first seen at the Beijing motor show last year, is a 395bhp version of the Golf R. Speaking to Autocar at the Detroit motor show, VW technical chief Heinz-Jakob Neusser revealed the R400 was undergoing “conceptual work and we’re in front of a decision to produce it”.

“I personally think we have a good prospect to do it,” said Neusser, adding that any production car would be very similar to the concept.

The new uber-Golf was developed by Volkswagen’s R division in a programme aimed at both showcasing its engineering prowess and highlighting its range of customization possibilities.

The rapid three-door hatchback, the latest in a long line of Golf concepts, is based around the mechanical package of the Golf R in a move that sees it take direct aim at the likes of the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG, BMW M235i and its sister company Audi’s second-generation RS3.

The Golf R400 runs a powered up version of the new Golf R’s turbocharged 2.0-litre direct injection four-cylinder petrol engine, the EA888 as it is known internally, whose engineering has been overseen by Volkswagen’s head of petrol engine development, Fritz Eichler – the man behind the similarly configured unit used in the most powerful of the existing crop of mega-hatches, the A45 AMG.

With 395bhp at 7200rpm and 332lb ft of torque between 2000 and 6000rpm, the heavily tuned four pot packs a significant 99bhp and 52lb ft more than the already potent Golf R. By comparison, the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG offers 355bhp at 6000rpm and a similar 332lb ft on a slightly narrower band of revs between 2250 and 5000rpm.

The EA888 engine was also showcased in Audi’s TT Quattro Sport Concept with an output of 414bhp and 332lb ft.

To maximise the sledgehammer performance potential of its engine, the concept employs a six-speed manual gearbox and the latest version of Volkswagen’s Haldex multi-plate clutch 4Motion four-wheel drive system, a combination that has also been taken from the new Golf R.

The electro-mechancial 4Motion four-wheel drive system constantly alters the amount of drive sent to the front and rear axles, with up to 100 per cent of the formidable reserves able to be channelled to either end depending on prevailing levels of traction. It operates in combination with Volkswagen’s EDS and XDS+ electronic differential locks as part of the Golf R400’s multi-function ESP system, which also boasts a sport function to allow a less aggressive intervention of the electrics when the driving conditions permit.

The Golf R400 is based around the three-door Golf R, with which it shares its hot formed steel floorpan and elements of its bodyshell. Despite early rumours suggesting it may receive a wider range of weight saving measures than those featured on the concept in Beijing, it is not exceptionally light. But at 1420kg, the new Volkswagen manages to undercut the Golf R by 56kg and the A45 AMG by 135kg. This endows it with a power-to-weight ratio of 278bhp per tonne – 77bhp per tonne more than the Golf R and 50bhp per tonne more than the A45 AMG.

Volkswagen says the Golf R400 reaches 62mph from standstill in a sizzling 3.9sec, 1.0sec faster than the German car maker quotes for the Golf R and 0.7sec faster than Mercedes-Benz claims for the A45 AMG. Top speed is limited to 174mph – 19mph up on the limited 155mph maximum of the Golf R and A45 AMG, although officials suggest the gearing would allow it to crack 190mph without electronic intervention.

The powerful three-door hatchback’s styling is a lot less restrained than recent concepts based on Volkswagen’s perennial best seller in line with plans to create a car that could be considered for low volume production. Up front there is a deeper bumper sporting integral carbonfibre elements, including a prominent splitter. The cooling ducts have also been heavily modified to ram a greater amount of air into the engine bay and to the front brakes.

In a move that provides it with an even more aggressive stance than the new Golf R, the Golf R400 receives unique fenders that have been widened by 20mm, giving it an added 40mm of added width both front and rear.

Further back, there are carbonfibre exterior mirror housings and subtle sill extensions. The rear is distinguished by a carbonfibre wing spoiler atop the tailgate and a deeper bumper imbued with carbonfibre elements, vertical ducts used to extract hot air from the wheel houses as well as a carbonfibre diffuser housing two large round tail pipes.

Yellow accents are used within the headlamp assemblies, which feature the latest LED graphics, as well as the grille and brake calipers to visually set the new car apart from the Golf R, which uses chrome highlights. The new Volkswagen also sports yellow and chrome R400 badges within the grille, along the flanks and on the tailgate.

As with its driveline, the chassis of the Golf R400 is borrowed largely from the Golf R. The two share the same MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension, which is set 20mm lower than regular Golf models and features DCC (Dynamic Chassis Control) that adapts the dampers to one of three modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport. A further common feature is the 19-inch wheels and 235/35 R19 tyres.

Inside, the Golf R400 once again builds on the Golf R with revised instruments (including a speedo incremented to 320km/h, which equates to 199mph) and carbonfibre backed shell seats up front in combination of carbonfibre trim elements and yellow stitching.

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Golf R is the fastest production Volkswagen currently
The new Golf R is faster than any production Volkswagen before it

Does this new engine and platform reform the buttoned-down R?

Join the debate

Comments
10

19 April 2014
Crazy performance figures. Is there any other car that has such a wide range of engine options (assuming this gets built) - 84bhp to 400bhp. One thought though, if the 4 wheel drive system can shift 100% of power front or rear, could you have a button to lock it in rear wheel drive?

TS7

19 April 2014
Will86 wrote:
One thought though, if the 4 wheel drive system can shift 100% of power front or rear, could you have a button to lock it in rear wheel drive?
As I've mentioned elswhere previously: better still build a RWD only version and shed several pounds of weight*. A Golf GT2 if you will. *Although being a VAG/Porsche-esque product it would no doubt cost more. I'd still rather have a 4.0 V8 with 100bhp/litre than a 2.0 4-pot with 200bhp/litre, it's frankly far too frantic.

19 April 2014
I am pretty sure that figure is for show only. It will probably be in the region of the A45 ie 350 with the torque figure retained. Nevertheless, a very interesting proposition especially with a manual gearbox.

ofir

19 April 2014
Cool, but not as technically interesting as Toyota's Yaris Hybrid R it showed last year sometime with 420hp. Being a size smaller, that would have been truly bonkers.

19 April 2014
After Mercedes let loose A45 AMG on us and changed our perception of the hot hatch market for ever, I was sure it's only a matter of time before we see a sub-4-second hatch.

21 April 2014
VW would not make a car that was purely RWD but, as the transfer is electronic, it wouldn't take too long to get someone with computer-savvy to make it happen. Getting rid of the transaxle altogether would be a much more arduous and expensive task but I wouldn't bet against someone with a lot of time, talent and money (either their own money or from a client) making one.

22 April 2014
It matters not what VW builds.I will never buy one.The Alfa 4C is still the better car.I am sure the hotter version of the 4C will be close to those figures.Remember the 4C is only 1750 cc the VW is 2000.Alfa just needs to knock a second off the 0-60 number of 4.5 sec.

The Alfa Romeo 4C is the better car,and also cheaper to maintain,Screw you VW.

25 April 2014
Pretty sure VW's press release referred to it as being DSG equipped.

1 August 2014
hi I'm looking to buy new car but i can't choose between GOLF R400 & BENZ AMG A45 ? can u help me plz

13 January 2015
The BMW M135i is still the best of the bunch due to it's fantastic 3.0 6 cylinder engine. take a look at superchips to see why, much more powerful than stated by BMW. With the chip it will better the power and torque figures of these upstarts too. The only complaint is the looks but overall I am very happy with my car. The M235i is better looking but is it worth the extra cash ??

Curly

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Audi A3 Sportback 2.0 TDI S line
    First Drive
    28 June 2016
    We've driven the facelifted version of the ever-popular Audi A3 Sportback in 2.0 TDI guise on UK roads for the first time
  • Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI S-Line
    First Drive
    26 June 2016
    The Audi Q2 is the German brand’s smallest SUV yet. Can it impress in production guise on European roads?
  • Ford S-Max Vignale
    First Drive
    24 June 2016
    The Ford S-Max Vignale is the company's premium executive express. Can it really be worth the extra over the standard S-Max?
  • Volkswagen Scirocco GTS
    First Drive
    23 June 2016
    Still a really fun and likeable coupé but the extra power doesn't justify the VW Scirocco GTS's high price
  • Ford Fiesta ST200
    First Drive
    23 June 2016
    Fresh from testing it abroad, we've just got our hands on the Ford Fiesta ST200 for a blat on UK roads