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.