So, the new VW Golf R it’s pretty good eh? With its powerful 300Bhp, 7 gear DSG gearbox, state of the art human-machine interface (HMI) and even 4 wheel drive the new Golf has it all, but enough about the Golf R as we are going to delve deeper into the past to tell you all about the history of this derivative of the infamous Golf (Rabbit) We aren’t going to bore you with the original hot hatch story, or even when VW decided that being GTI was no longer the top of the tree and introduced the VR6, but it is interesting that even VW tried to out GTI the GTI.
Mk4 Volkswagen Golf R32 (2002-2005)
So, the Golf GTI had a good run spanning through the ’80s and ’90s, but someone at VW decided they wanted to put their little hot hatch back at the top of the top trumps pack for standard manufacturer cars, so they did. In 2003 we got introduced to the 4 wheel drive beast.
Anyone who looked at this car believed it was a standard GTI with a different name, but how wrong they were. We’ll start with the engine (and wow, what an engine can we add) it had a powerful 237 horsepower and even more interesting it came with 236 pound-feet for torque, adding all this to the fantastic 4-motion 4wheel drive system and a 3.2-litre engine the R32 could hit 60 in just 6.6 seconds. Big words but to put this in context, in less than 2 seconds, you are travelling at the same speed as the latest Golf R, you are breaking the law only 2.4 seconds slower than cars 15 years younger. And for the first time, roundabouts and wet roads won’t result in flowers and cards from well-wishers.
Mk5 Volkswagen Golf R32 (2005-2009)
R32, the second coming? How could it be any better you ask, well it wasn’t just better it smashed it out the ballpark.
First VW changed the styling ,reworked the second mark R32 to just pure beauty, giving it a silver grill, making it more rounded and oh, a lot more power. The V6 engine was diligently reworked to produce 247 horsepower, with the torque staying the same, and here VW followed Porsche, in that the auto gearbox most petrol heads ditch in favour of a manual, could accelerate quicker than anyone using the third pedal. You can guess where VW saw its target audience with this tarmac ripping car for the lazy.
Just because the car was perfect for the Americans didn’t mean they were ready for it. It’s not like their entire economy had collapsed, and people were buying cars to live out of. For those who hadn’t felt the effect, they were more than happy with the Mustang.
Mk6 Volkswagen Golf R (2009-2013)
VW needed to step up when they didn’t capture the hearts of America first time out. September 15, 2009, the world meets the Mk6 Golf R, with wholesale changes. The main one being the smaller engine 2.0 Liter to be exact, but at least it’s turbocharged. The beautiful R boasted an all new turbo and intercooler, reinforced block, upgraded injectors, beefier camshafts, stronger pistons, meatier piston rings, and more robust connecting rods. The result was fascinating, 266 horsepower with a whopping 260 torque which at the time, resulted in the most fun and powerful golf we had ever seen. People went crazy for it even in America which was a win for VW (Even though it was de-powered) 0-60 came in at a staggering 5.7 seconds.
You have to remember that while this attempt to convince the Americans that a turbo is adequate replacement for displacement, in Europe, we just kept getting offered better and better cars against a backdrop that wasn’t asking.
So the Golf R beat all its rivals but still, VW created a new one and it was even better.
VW were knee deep in platform and technology sharing at this point, there had been a golf with the W12 engine and Audi no longer needed the R&D spend of its 1980’s rally hey day thanks to the shared knowledge within the group.
VW’s biggest competition was from platform sharing cars, Seat, Audi and occasionally Skoda tried to give them a bloody nose. Everybody coming close just drove the Golf development team to keep pushing the envelope.
Mk7 Volkswagen Golf R (2015-Present)
Finally, VW has a clear edge over its rivals but they still went back to the drawing board and wanted to make an even better car.
So, the power it has a stunning 292 horsepower (Which can we add at the time could compete with the WRX STI which is an achievement in itself) but its not a rally car (as much as we want it to be) but it’s just as fun. 0-60 clocking in at an excellent 4.9 seconds with DSG. Even better the European version offered a 6sp manual gearbox with VW also offering the current dual-clutch.
All of these cars are collectible; all of them will have a collection of former or current owners with stories to share.