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Hatch From Hell: Volkswagen Golf R32

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On: Fri, Nov 13, 2015 at 11:47AM | By: Teddy Field


Hatch From Hell: Volkswagen Golf R32

The traditional 'hot hatchback' is designed for the young person who wants to haul their friends and stuff, while also hauling a certain part of the human anatomy. The Volkswagen Golf R32, on the other hand, doesn't have FWD, and it doesn't look like it came in a cereal box. It has 4-wheel drive, a big engine, and a luxurious interior. Oh yeah, it's also ballistic fast, which makes it a hatch from hell...

In a traditional sense, the Volkswagen Golf R32 is more of a factory hotrod. Back in 2002, VW shoehorned the 3.2-liter VR6 engine from the Audi TT/Porsche Cayenne into the little VW Golf. In order to manage the engine's 237hp/236 lb-ft, they gave the little car an advanced Haldex 4WD (aka Quattro) system, along with stiffer springs/shocks, bigger sway bars, bigger brakes, meaty 18-inch rubber. This resulted in a demonic exhaust note, and handling to match.

On the inside, the Mk IV Volkswagen Golf R32 featured a pair of awesome sport bucket seats, luxurious Audi-esque trim, and a 6-speed manual gearbox. European buyers could opt for a DSG transmission, but all 5,000 R32s imported for 2004 had a manual. VW enthusiasts cried foul, so the MkV Volkswagen Golf R32 was available only with the twin-clutch DSG.Fahrvergnügen fan-boys then cried foul because there was no manual... proving that people want only what they can't have.

That Mk5 Volkswagen Golf R32 was finally imported to the U.S. for the 2008 model year, and featured all the goodness of the new Golf platform. It also got a power bump to 250hp, along with a brace of new luxury features, like heated seats, an iPod plug, and navigation. Thanks to the power increase, the 2008 Volkswagen Golf R32 could boogie to 60 mph in the mid-5-second range, vs. the 2004 Volkswagen Golf R32, which could do it in about 6.5 ticks.

Technically speaking, the Volkswagen Golf R32 competed with other AWD hell-hatchs like the Subaru WRX STI and Mitsubishi EVO. But, in the real world, it didn't. The Japanese twins were much lighter, harder, and faster. On a dragstrip or rally stage, they'd beat down the VeeDub like Mike Tyson fighting Steve Urkel. On the way to-and-from work, however, the Golf R32 truely shines. It's much more comfortable, and the power is more accessable in real world situations. Plus, that narrow angle VR6 sounds waaay better than a turbo-4...


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