The R32 is the pinnacle of the 4th generation Golf platform. Volkswagen is elevating the Golf status to a special edition, offering more prestige and performance. VW plans to sell 5,000 R32s in the United States this year. My guess is that young male tuner types will buy them, mainly, which is exactly where Volkswagen is targeting this car.
With a new GTI on the way, why is VW bringing over Golf on a pedestal? The power of the press - journalists can make a difference. A group of journalists were driving the Touareg and got the opportunity to drive the R32. The first question once they were out of the car was, when are you bringing it over? VW chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder decided there and then that the R32 would be brought to America. The decision was also helped along by the fact that there were no other models coming out this year.
The biggest difference between the standard Golf and the Golf R32 comes with a quick glance at the exterior. The front bumper has been completely remolded and incorporates 3 large mesh ventilation grilles with a lower overall profile. Subtle side skirts have been added and a redesigned rear valence that incorporates two chrome 3" exhaust tips rounds off the styling elements. Other significant features include about an inch lower stance than the standard German market GTI, 18-inch OZ alloy wheels wearing 225/40ZR-18 Michelin Pilot Sport rubber. Standing quietly, but boldly in the front and rear are the R32 badges.
Both the horsepower and torque curves are very linear on the R32 providing nice low-end male-sounding grunts and sweet how fast are we going high-RPM sounds. Power is routed to the ground through an MQ350 six-speed transmission and a Haldex electronic coupling for all-wheel-drive, similar to the ones used in Volvos and the Audi TT. The Haldex clutch-pack is an electronically controlled system that has the ability to detect slip and go to full lockup quicker than most other all-wheel-drive systems. The Haldex coupling remains disengaged when not needed and operates as a front-wheel drive, eliminating a lot of the driveline friction commonly lost in full-time all-wheel-drive.
The 4Motion system, which applies power front or rear as needed, is augmented by standard ABS, EBD (electronic brake force distribution) and, most importantly, ESP (electronic stability program and its built-in brake assist).
The R32 is a 3.2L V6, 24-Valve, DOHC, with a horsepower rating of 240@6250 and a torque rating of 236@2800. Pulling its power through its standard 6-speed manual transmission, it has an EPA fuel economy rating of 19 city/26 highway miles per gallon. The 32 in the R32 designation represents the displacement of the 3.2l VR6 engine under the hood, the same as is found in the Touareg SUV and the Phaeton luxury car. In fact, it's made in Bratislava, Slovakia, alongside the Touareg and the Porsche Cayenne platform.
The fully independent suspension comes from the Audi TT, as does the higher ratio rack and pinion steering system. When you're cornering is when you will feel the quicker rate come into play. Up front are MacPherson struts and lower wishbones; at the rear is a multi-link system with forged dual-link trailing arm suspension. The suspension is mounted on a sub frame and connected to the running gear with rubber vibration dampers, helping suppress the road noise.
The downside for me was it only came in two doors and the backseat had very little room for legs. The interior is fitted with many protective devices inside the two adults, three children car. There are eight airbags - dual fronts, side curtains front and back and front thorax airbags. The standards include, supportive heated seats trimmed in cloth and vinyl. Leather with leather trim, at $950, is about the only R32 option. The R32 is also equipped with automatic climate control, a Monsoon CD sound system, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a power sunroof.
Volkswagen needs this car this year. Their sales were down 25.9 percent in January and the dealers were screaming for more product. Next year, the dealers will have the Jetta in March, the Passat in September and the GTI in October.
The grand total for this V6, all-wheel drive comes to $29,675. Like the limited-edition Evo and WRX, the high performance Golf doesn't come cheap. With only 5,000 for sale, the "Drivers Wanted" sign won't be up for long.