What is it?
It would be an unlikely occurrence that, after an enthusiastic drive on your favourite B-road, you’d emerge from a Volkswagen Golf R and accuse it of being a bit slow. Or a bit underpowered. Or a bit wanting in terms of its outright performance. That’s not really the sort of impression a hatchback with 296bhp, 295lb ft, four-wheel drive and a 0-62mph time of 4.6sec tends to leave. But that hasn’t prevented M52 from stepping in to spice things up anyway.
The M52 brand is a new one, the product of a transatlantic collaboration between Mountune and Fifteen52. You will probably have heard of the former: the Essex-based tuner is famed for taking fast Fords and making them even faster. The latter, meanwhile, is an American company best known for its sharp-looking bespoke wheels. If you follow the comings and goings of Hoonigan Ken Block or self-styled 'urban outlaw' Magnus Walker, you’ve probably spied some of its work.
Anyway, M52's is focus is the enhancement of Volkswagen Group cars. Apparently, there’s quite a large market for fast, modified Volkswagens in the States, so the collaboration presented a good opportunity for Mountune to increase its profile across the pond. At the same time, the reverse is true for Fifteen52 in the UK. Sounds like a win-win situation.
So, how does it work? Well, Mountune provides the performance-related tuning knowhow and Fifteen52 brings the additional styling flare. The Golf R M52 you see here is the first result. While you can make your own mind up on the aesthetic changes that have been introduced to the car, it’s the Stage 1 performance upgrade package that we’re really interested in. It’s effectively an ECU remap that, among other things, boosts power and torque to 355bhp and 369lb ft. That’s quite something. On dual-clutch automatic-equipped cars, it also remaps the TCU for even faster shift times.
In addition to the remap, M52 also suggests you fit its X3 high-flow induction system, which our car duly had. It also had custom springs, a prototype sport damper kit, uprated brakes, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, 19in alloys and some wonderfully tactile custom paddleshifters. Such are the joys of car modification.