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608hp Volkswagen Golf R - Crouch’s Dragon

Jason Crouch owns the most powerful R in the US

Justin Fivella
May 19, 2014
Photographer: Jeremy Cliff

The only thing you need to remember is the number 608. No, it's not the owner's area code, or even his credit score; it's the horsepower his 2012 VW Golf R makes at the wheels - all four of them!

As a result, he claims to have the most powerful Golf R in the US - some dude in Romania apparently made 612hp to the wheels, but both cars are north of 600whp...

2012 volkswagen golf r 3M matte charcoal metallic wrap 02 Photo 2/10   |   608hp Volkswagen Golf R - Crouch’s Dragon

"A divorce forced the sale of my Audi TT RS (featured in EC 6/11) and it crushed me. After the sale, I wanted another VAG product, but had to step down in price," owner Jason Crouch told us.

The "downward" step was more of a lateral one in our opinion, into an early Volkswagen Golf R. "I chose it because of its potential, its AWD system and because it was a stick. I liked the DSG in the TT RS, but I wanted something more involving." It only took Crouch two weeks to devise a plan for his new hot hatch. And unlike most builds that start small and simmer to the boil, in the words of the late Bambino, he "swung for the fences."

"I'd seen a few Golf R owners attempt to make big power but fall short of the magical number 700. So I made it my goal to make 700hp at the crank, or 608hp at the wheels, which allows for the typical 22% drivetrain loss from the AWD system," Crouch explained.

2012 volkswagen golf r HRE vintage 505 wheels 03 Photo 3/10   |   608hp Volkswagen Golf R - Crouch’s Dragon

What happened next could be straight from a movie script. The VW story is one of hope, despair, resurrection and help from his friends - industry friends with big hearts and steadfast determination.

When asked to share his favorite aspect of the Volkswagen, Crouch didn't mention the power or something from the amazing spec list, but explained, "It's the legacy of the story that really counts..."

"At one point I was typing out a 'for sale' thread when a few pivotal people helped me rediscover the importance of the project and see it through to the end," he said. "Friend and fellow enthusiast, Ken Philpot from BSH Speedshop, told me that giving up wasn't possible. He reminded me the car was almost complete and that I wasn't one to quit."

2012 volkswagen golf r HEP performance fuel rail 06 Photo 4/10   |   608hp Volkswagen Golf R - Crouch’s Dragon

"Gabe Adams from Bluewater Performance also called after he'd seen the build thread and offered to help me save the car. It was the final push I needed to get back on the 'Wagen," Jason continued.

Your title here...
So what had happened? "With just 2000 miles on the odometer and after two weeks of ownership, I took the Golf R to a shop that came highly recommended. I hoped they'd build the 700hp monster of my dreams but, one year later, it was pushed onto a flatbed and left the same shop as a shell of what it once was. It was incomplete and broken," he told us.

During that year, Jason recounted a catalog of events that reads like a horror story for any of us who entrust our vehicles to a tuning shop. However, there's a happy ending because Bluewater rode in to save the day.

Starting from scratch, they retained most of the new hardware but added some custom touches of their own, like the cold-air intake that avoids the hot side of the turbo, keeping IATs down and horsepower up - a worthwhile precaution when running 35psi.

2012 volkswagen golf r osir gauge pod 08 Photo 5/10   |   AEM boost and meth gauges in Osir pod

Thankfully, the VW bottom-end was diesel-truck strong, using forged internals from Redline Speed Worx (RS Worx) including custom-spec Mahle pistons and ARP fasteners. Up top you'll find a Bluewater polished cylinder head fitted with Ferrea valvetrain components.

Bluewater disassembled the entire Volkswagen motor as a precaution and found some problems with the valvetrain and cam chain that were easily resolved but would have been disastrous if they'd proceeded.

They were then safe to bolt the hefty Precision 5858 turbo with 46mm external wastegate to the custom BSH tubular exhaust manifold. It was accompanied by a custom FMIC with massive Spearco core. Custom software from United Motorsports took dozens of hours to ensure both OEM-like drivability on part throttle and insanity at WOT. And since it's a VW, they took the precaution of adding Okada Projects ignition coils to provide a good spark. An AEM methanol injection kit with FailSafe feature adds an extra layer of protection to the built motor that is dressed with a gorgeous INA billet cam cover.

All that power has to go somewhere, and so a DXD Racing/South Bend stage 4 clutch and flywheel kit was installed, along with a Haldex Competition controller to distribute the torque better.

A set of KW Variant 2 coilovers, Integrated Engineering camber plates, JOM rear sway bar and Whiteline bushing kit helped the VW hatch handle like it's on rails. "It's amazing how well the car handles considering the simple combination of parts," Crouch said.

2012 volkswagen golf r euro LED taillights 05 Photo 6/10   |   608hp Volkswagen Golf R - Crouch’s Dragon

He also added Brembo's six-piston calipers up front with 365mm slotted rotors that were matched to a pair of custom Adams Rotors in the rear. "Again, the brakes were such a simple combo but are super-effective, even from high speed," Crouch said.

Wanting to ensure he had enough rubber on the road, Jason used a pair of wide front fenders from SRS-Tec in Germany. They add an extra 1" to each side and bolt-on without requiring modifications to either the front bumper or side skirts. The design mimics the OE panels so it looks discreet but allowed the Volkswagen to be fitted with 19x9" HRE Vintage 505 wheels front and rear. These were custom-built with a wider rear lip to improve the car's stance.

While he was at it, Crouch had the front bumper, hood notch and turn signals shaved before the VW was wrapped by Vinyl Styles in 3M Matte Charcoal Metallic.

2012 volkswagen golf r custom rear rollcage 07 Photo 7/10   |   608hp Volkswagen Golf R - Crouch’s Dragon

With its tinted windows, you barely notice the custom half-cage in the car. Painted black, it certainly doesn't draw unwanted attention. "I'm all about understated excellence, so the interior was left stock save for the cage, some AEM gauges and a simple stereo with a stealth sub," Crouch explained.

With its matte wrap, lowered ride height, aggressive offsets and rollcage, it doesn't take a mastermind to figure something is up with this Golf R. However, it's still considered stealthy because nobody would suspect this hatchback is packing 700hp at the crank!

For reference, that's more power than most supercars. And don't suggest it's just a numbers car, because Jason plans to turn it loose on a drag strip soon. So while he can lay claim to having the most powerful Golf R in the country, perhaps this summer he'll wear the crown of the world's fastest, too.

Tech Spec
2012 Volkswagen Golf R
Jason Crouch
Bay Area, CA

2.0-liter four cylinder 16v with custom RS Worx forged Mahle pistons, rods and ARP hardware, polished Bluewater Performance cylinder head, Ferrea valvetrain, Precision Turbo 5858 turbo, 46mm external wastegate, BSH Speedshop tubular exhaust manifold, FMIC and methanol tank, HEP intake manifold and fuel rail, United Motorsports software, Bluewater custom 3" CAI and downpipe, Meisterschaft GTC exhaust, Okada Projects ignition coils, USP LPFP, APR HPFP, INA oil cooler and cam cover, AEM methanol injection and Failsafe system, Black Forest Industries motor mounts and catch can, Mishimoto radiator

six-speed manual transmission with Haldex Competition controller, DXD Racing/South Bend stage 4 clutch and flywheel, Dieselgeek shifter

2012 volkswagen golf r HEP intake manifold 04 Photo 8/10   |   Bluewater polished head sits atop RS Worx forged short block with Precision 5858 turbo and United Motorsports software. The result is 608hp, 536 lb-ft at the wheels with 35psi on pump gas and meth

Brembo six-piston calipers, 365mm Type 3 grooved rotors f, Adams Rotors r

KW Variant 2 coilovers, Integrated Engineering camber plates, JOM rear sway bar, Whiteline bushing kit

Wheels & Tires
19x9" HRE Vintage 505 wheels with 1.5" lips f, 2.5" r, 225/35 R19 Hankook RS3 tires

SRS-Tec wide front fenders, shaved front bumper, hood notch, headlamp washers and turn signals, Euro LED tail lights, 3M Matte Charcoal Metallic wrap

2012 volkswagen golf r HRE vintage 505 wheels 09 Photo 9/10   |   19x9" HRE Vintage 505 wheels, Hankook RS3 tires and Brembo six-piston brakes under SRS-Tec wide fenders

custom rear rollcage, AEM Truboost and methanol gauges in Osir pod

Uber Stealth 10" sub box, Audison Bit One DSP and SR1 amp, Cascade Audio sound deadening

Gabe and Hollywood at Bluewater Performance (, Jeffrey at United Motorsports (, Brendan and Jaime at Boardwalk AutoMall, Lawson at AEM (, Lyle and Jordan at Vinyl Styles (, Arin at APR (, Howie at HEP (, Pete at BFI (, Joe at Precision Turbo (, Nik Brewer at Uber Stealth (, John at Meisterschaft (, Issam at INA Engineering (, Paul at Hankook (, Andy at DXD Racing (, Zeke at Ferrea (, Patrick at RS Worx (, Michael at SRS-Tec (, Sarah at Mishimoto (, Jim at Dieselgeek (, Ken and Alan at BSH (, Jeff and Phil USP Motorsports (, Ian at Evolution Motorsports (, Doug at Cascade Audio (, George at KW (, Lon and Patrick at HRE (, Danni at Brembo (, Adam at Adams Rotors (

2012 volkswagen golf r euro LED taillights 10 Photo 10/10   |   608hp Volkswagen Golf R - Crouch’s Dragon
By Justin Fivella
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