The most powerful production Golf ever will make its debut at the Frankfurt motor show next month before going on sale in the UK in November priced at around £23,000.
The first generation R32 was a surprise hit, selling three times Volkswagen’s initial estimates, and its replacement retains the same 3.2-litre V6 powerplant but has FSI technology (which provides finer, more efficient control of the fuel/air mix in the combustion chamber) for a 10bhp power hike to 247bhp.
Unlike the front-wheel drive 237bhp Astra and 250bhp Alfa 147 GTA, the Golf gains permanent four-wheel drive via Volkswagen’s 4Motion system for maximum traction. Standard cars get a six-speed manual transmission, with the VW Group’s dual-clutch six-speed DSG available as an option. Go for this automated manual and the 0-62mph dash is cut from the manual car’s 6.5sec to a VXR-matching 6.2sec (both faster than the old car’s 6.6sec), while top speed is up 2mph to 155mph.
With the much-improved dynamics of the Golf Mk5, handling should take a step forward over the 2002 R32, which Autocar described as the ‘best hot Golf for a decade’. The traction from the new model’s four-wheel-drive system is sufficient that Volkswagen has not felt the need to increase its tyre footprint over the old car’s 225/40s. The 18in alloys wrapped by those tyres are an evolution of the old car’s multi-spoke pattern, but now boast 20 spokes with blue brake callipers hauling on 345mm front and 310mm rear discs (up 33mm and 54mm on the original R32’s).
As befits the fastest ever Golf, the R32 gets an aggressive visual makeover to distance it from the 197bhp GTi. At the front a new grille is surrounded by aluminium and supported by a trio of huge air intakes to feed the V6. There are deep, body-coloured side skirts and a diffuser-style rear bumper sits above an aggressive pair of centre-exit polished stainless steel exhausts.
The bespoke cabin is more luxurious than the sport GTi’s. The race-style front bucket seats are trimmed in leather, and there are aluminium-faced pedals as well as the GTi’s flat-base steering wheel. Standard equipment includes automatic climate control, a 10-speak CD sound system, xenon headlights, automatic wipers and auto-dim rear-view mirror. ESP, six airbags and brake assist are all standard.