Currently reading: Volkswagen Golf R400 mega-hatch could make production
Concept provides blueprint for new uber-Golf from Volkswagen’s R division

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.


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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.

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Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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Curly55 13 January 2015

new car

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 ??
shahabnewcastle 1 August 2014

new car

hi I'm looking to buy new car but i can't choose between GOLF R400 & BENZ AMG A45 ? can u help me plz
EngageSportMode 25 April 2014

Manual six-speed?

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