Volkswagen’s hottest Golf – the R – has hit the Nürburgring for final shakedown tests ahead of its late 2013 launch.
Tell-tale signs we’re looking at the Golf R testing are the large trapezoidal front grilles, sporty alloy wheels wearing low-profile rubber, and for the first time on a hot Golf, quad tailpipes. Previous Golf Rs have used two central pipes, but for this generation it looks as if VW will nick a four-tube arrangement from the Audi S3. It’ll still be a subtle package alongside lairy-lookers like the Ford Focus ST and Vauxhall Astra VXR, but that’s always been part of the fast Golf appeal.
What do we know about the spec of the next VW Golf R?
Like the outgoing model, the new VW Golf R will shun lusty V6 power for a highly-tuned turbocharged four-cylinder – which sounds really fruity, according to our Nürburgring-based spies. Power from the 2.0-litre TSI unit will rise to 286bhp from the 261bhp of the existing Golf R. Of course, the new Golf R will be lighter than the 1521kg outgoing model, thanks to its all-new, lighter platform (codenamed MQB).
That grunt is applied to the road via four-wheel drive: an R-badged Golf hallmark since the 2003 R32. As with past AWD Golf, the drivetrain will use a Haldex 4Motion system to send power rearwards when the ECU detects slip – like the 4Matic system Mercedes is rolling out on its new A45 and CLA45 AMG models. As standard, Golf Rs will be fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox, but for ultimate off-the-line performance, you’ll want the six-speed dual-clutch DSG transmission.
Unlike the current Mk7 Golf GTI, the next Golf R will allow an ‘everything-off’ driver assist mode. Even in its most dialled-back Sport mode guise, the GTI will intervene with stability control to trim your inputs and straighten up a slide. For the hardcore R, off means off, with drivers depending on that all-wheel drive and raw talent to keep their investment shiny side-up.
Talking of investments, how much will the new VW Golf R cost?
It’s not going to be cheap, but machines that qualify for the ‘all the car you’ll ever need’ tag rarely are (see also BMW 320d Touring, Range Rover). Expect an entry-level price of £32,000 for the Golf R in three-door manual guise, with five-door DSG cars coming closer to £35,000.
That’s almost bang on the £31,980 Audi charges for the similarly-AWD S3 hatchback, though the four-ringed car boasts a healthier 296bhp from its own 2.0-litre four-pot. Meanwhile, BMW’s 316bhp M135i looks conspicuously good value at £30,555 – but doesn’t boast the all-season credentials of the VW Group cars, due to its UK-market rear-drive chassis.
VW Group is currently going hot hatch crazy. We’ve recently driven the Golf GTI Mk7 and the new Audi S3, plus we’ve spied the next Seat Leon Cupra testing on the Nordschleife. Click the links to read our stories.
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