VW marks 20 years of Golf R with $77,490 special edition
BY PETER BARNWELL
STARTING decades back with the ‘lightly massaged’ Golf GTI hot hatch, Volkswagen leveraged that model in the early noughties adding all-wheel drive and turned up the wick to morph it into something of a performance beast called the Golf R.
A serious step up over the less powerful and front wheel drive only GTI, the Golf R initially lobbed as the R32 in 2002 with a V6 under the bonnet that at the time was the fastest production car VW had ever built. It has become a collector classic as the tight angle vee engine was a rarity and the sound it made was intoxicating.
Marking the 20th anniversary (actually 21 years) of the Golf R, VW has developed a commemorative model called the Golf R 20 Years it says is says is the hottest and fastest ever.
If you’re quick, you can buy a 20 Years model now priced from $77,490 plus on-road costs, but VW says only 50 examples are scheduled to come Down Under.
VW says the model includes “significant design and engineering enhancements over the series production Golf R”.
These upgrades include a titanium Akrapovic exhaust, power and torque upgrades courtesy of an enhanced turbocharger, sharper-shifting dual-clutch transmission, carbon-fibre trim inserts, premium paint, a panoramic sunroof and a harman/kardon premium audio system.
The colour split is 32 in Lapiz Blue and 18 in Pure White, all rolling on funky looking black 19-inch Estoril alloy wheels.
Power comes from a 245kW (+10kW) and 420Nm (+20Nm) engine tune that enables a 0-100km/h sprint in a rapid 4.6 seconds.
“The original Mark 4 and Mark 5 Volkswagen Golf R32 introduced the pioneering DSG and were renowned for their sonorous acoustics and compact agility,” said Volkswagen Passenger Vehicles director, Michal Szaniecki.
“As our flagship hot hatchback evolved to become the Mark 6 and Mark 7 Golf R they led the segment for all-wheel drive traction and performance at a time when rally-bred sedan rivals departed the segment or simply didn’t evolve."
“Now, the Mark 8 Golf R moves onto another level with its torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system infused with incredible technology. It’s fitting that this 20 Years special edition is about both enhanced styling, more power and torque, sharper responses from the transmission and an even more expressive sound.”
The first Mk4 Golf R32 arrived in 2002 with the ‘R’ name standing for the German word “rennen”, or “racing”. It ran a 3.2-litre six-cylinder engine producing 177kW and offered all-wheel drive for a 0-100km/h time of 6.6 seconds. It was the first VW to be offered from mid-2003 with a dual-clutch transmission (DSG). Just 200 were sold here.
Then in 2006, the Mk5 Golf R32 upped the ante with a 184kW 3.2-litre V6 and a new look. It offered a crackling central-exit exhaust system, all-wheel drive, and the availability of three- and five-door body styles.
The Mk5 was followed in 2010 by the Mk6 which dropped the ‘32’ and reverted to a 188kW four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine, essentially the GTI engine with more boost.
This popular model quickly added 50 per cent to the sales tally of the preceding generation locally selling 3276 examples of the Mk6 R, compared to 2041 examples of the Mk5 and 195 Mk4s.
From 2014 the MQB platform-based Mk7 and Mk7.5 Golf R raised the bar yet again with a 213kW output, quick-acting 4Motion all-wheel drive system and impressive sales of 13.864 units.
It was replaced in 2022 with the Mk8 Golf R which offered a strident 235kW, torque vectoring-enabled 4Motion system, and even Drift Mode.
By the end of the first quarter of 2023, VW has sold a total of 19,833 Golf R32 and R hatchbacks and wagons across all generations in Australia which could mean the 20,000th example of the car is likely to be sold in its 20th year.