We expect this car to deliver. The old R32 managed to add an unexpected element of fun to the previous-model Golf, but ultimately didn’t have the sporting edge of hardcore rivals like the Ford Focus RS and Honda Civic Type-R. If the excellent new Golf GTi is anything to go by, however, this time things should be different.
The R32 will top the Golf line-up when it goes on sale in November, with prices starting at £23,745. It runs an upgraded version of the earlier model’s 3.2-litre V6 engine and four-wheel-drive hardware. Underneath, however, it has a better start, using a revised version of the acclaimed Golf Mk5 chassis. The question is, can the R32 justify its £4000 premium over the GTi?
The R32 is available as both a three- and five-door, with styling tweaks that give it a welcome dose of aggression. Up front, there’s a chrome-look grille and a deeper front bumper housing a trio of large air ducts as well as integrated washer jets for the car’s bi-xenon headlamps. There are also chunky new side sills, a rear spoiler and a new rear bumper that incorporates a fake diffuser but two very real chromed tail-pipes. It sits on beautiful 18-inch multi-spoke alloys shod with 225/40 Michelins.
Turn the key and you’re greeted by a deliciously raspy exhaust note. The familiar four-valve-per-cylinder 3.2-litre V6 has a smooth and vibration-free character highly reminiscent of BMW’s in-line sixes. In its latest guise, the transversely mounted engine delivers 247bhp at 6300rpm, up 10bhp over the old R32 owing to a reworked inlet manifold. Torque remains the same at 236lb ft, but it’s now developed 300rpm lower down the range at 2500rpm. By comparison, the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder GTi musters 197bhp and 206lb ft.