If you're a regular on eurotuner.com to get daily updates of Euro car and event news, you were among the first to know VW of America had announced the Golf R will be coming to the States. Protracted internal negotiations put the car in doubt, but enthusiasts within VWoA won the day.
To recap, it will come in two- and four-door versions with a manual six-speed (thank goodness!). Power will be around 250-255hp to account for our hotter climate. Two trim levels will be available: the basic should start under $34k with leather, Climatronic and all the R parts such as 18" Talladega wheels. The loaded version also gets keyless entry, a Dynaudio system, sunroof and nav. The optional 19" Talladega wheels will hopefully be available as an accessory.
Fortunately, VW learnt from the Mk5 Golf R32. Its relatively poor US sales put the Golf R in jeopardy. However, where the R32 was only available with DSG and handicapped by understeer, the Golf R has addressed these issues.
Limited to a six-speed manual means VWoA won't have to federalize two versions, making it cheaper overall. The manual will also be stronger for the army of tuners and track day enthusiasts who bought the original Mk4 R32. And in our opinion, a car like this needs a manual!
When it comes to tuning, the 2.0T will be cheaper than the R32. More importantly, the four-cylinder is much lighter, and the fourth-generation all-wheel drive more advanced, meaning the car handles better.
First seen in the Audi S3, TTS and Seat Leon Cupra R, the 2.0T is based on the Mk5 GTI's EA113 1984cc cylinder block. The older block is stronger but has a timing belt rather than a chain. It receives stronger rods, low compression pistons, new bearings and stronger bolts. Up top, the direct-injection TSI engine gets a larger K04 turbo, different inlet manifold, front-mount intercooler and software. It delivers 265hp and 260 lb-ft in European trim but its fuel economy is considerably better than the R32.
Having boarded a last-minute flight to the UK, we found ourselves behind the wheel of a modified VW Golf R on an empty airfield. Admittedly, it was bloody freezing. As we drank hot tea, we were worried about how the 235/35 Dunlop tires on custom-painted 19" Talladegas would cope with the conditions.
We needed to warm them up and drifting through a series of corners seemed like the perfect procedure. Within minutes the Golf R was holding its line and going precisely where you pointed it - sadly not what you expected from the R32.
The AWD system has more sensors and no longer requires wheelspin to operate the diff's clutch because there's a 30-bar electric pump to build hydraulic pressure. So almost 100% of the torque can be directed to the rear axle because the pressure is always available.
On the track, it felt like the Mk6 GTI's XDS electronic diff because it allows wheelspin and slip, especially with the ESP in Sport mode or switched off, yet maintains forward progress.
We were driving the Golf R because Revo Technik wanted to show us its latest projects. After interrogating the ECU, their boffins discovered the maps were almost identical to the S3, which gave them a head start.
Our particular car had Stage 2 software as well as a full Revo exhaust system and downpipes. Custom-made by Milltek, they are identified by black tips. The system is 3" from turbo to tips with a 100-cell high-flow cat.
In this trim, the Revo R puts out 329hp and 333 lb-ft. According to Mark Yates from Revo, the torque is restricted by the stock fuel pump's capacity, but Stage 2+ has a bigger pump to reach 360hp.
So while we made do with "only" 330hp and a slippery track, the Golf R treated it with contempt. Flashing through the 'box, it appeared to demolish the stock 0-60mph time of 5.7sec. Unfortunately, our timing gear didn't like the cold, but we hope to bring you real numbers soon.
Our lasting impression was the R's composure. It never scrabbled for grip, you never fought understeer, and were never in the wrong gear. The Revo R pulled cleanly from any revs to redline, gliding past 140mph with ease, with plenty more to come.
Although 1" lower than a GTI, the stock ride is remarkably compliant, soaking up high-speed bumps without being knocked off course. More importantly, the chassis is incredibly forgiving and so fluid it inspires ridiculous confidence: Throw it into turns at higher and higher speeds, leaving the AWD and wonderful chassis to sort it out. All you do is apply opposite lock and bury your foot early to drive it out.
If you didn't get the memo, the Golf R is an amazing machine. It's what the previous R32 should have been, and the Revo software makes it even more remarkable.
With almost a year before the car goes on sale, we suggest you start saving because you mustn't miss the best Golf ever. We'd also recommend Revo software, and the company is preparing to release its upgrades when the R arrives in December.