The production version of the Volkswagen Golf R400 concept has been spotted testing at the Nürburgring for the first time.
This test car features a widened front and rear track, as well as large wheels reminiscent of the original Golf R400 concept car. The photographing of this early prototype comes only weeks after VW technical chief Heinz-Jakob Neusser confirmed the model was entering development.
Interestingly, our spy photographers report hearing the what sounded like a five-cylinder engine on this test mule. While the car's powertrain hasn't been confirmed, it's expected to run the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine from the Golf R, which in the concept produced 395bhp and 332lb ft.
However, it's worth remembering that one of the R400's chief rivals, the Audi RS3, features a 2.5-litre five-cylinder petrol engine producing 362bhp.
The R400 is all-wheel drive and uses a six-speed manual gearbox. It can hit 62mph from rest in just 3.9sec and reach a top speed of 174mph.
Neusser gave no indication of a launch date for the most potent Golf model yet.
One of the main challenges in bringing the R400 to production is understood to come from finding a gearbox suitable to handle the R400’s 332lb ft torque output. VW also wants an automatic option to give the model greater global appeal. The Golf R’s six-speed DSG ’box is only rated for torque loads of up to 280lb ft.
The Golf R400 concept car was originally shown to display the firm's engineering prowess, as well as the range of customisation options open to its customers. If given the green light for production, the new model would do battle with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG and the BMW M235i.
Neusser also confirmed that, despite rumours, the VW Beetle would survive for a third generation. It will be based on the new MQB platform and is likely to be built alongside the Golf and new Tiguan in Mexico.
Despite plans to drop the low-selling three-door layout for the next Polo, Neusser confirmed that the Golf-size MQB-A platform would retain a three-door layout.
When asked if the current Scirocco would be replaced, Neusser said cars such as the small coupé were “emotional cars” and that there had to be “an evolutionary step for these type of cars” in the next generation, which suggests a much more stylistically radical replacement.
Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below: