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Car reviews - Volkswagen - Golf - R32 3-dr hatch

The Car

5 Apr 2004

JUST as the respected but hardly venerated fourth-generation Volkswagen Golf slides slowly into the sunset, out pops the R32 to dazzle us.

As a last hurrah it is one impressive effort.

While the good news is R32 is the world’s fastest and most powerful Golf, the bad news is there are only about 70 of them left to snap up in Australia from a limited edition supply of 200.

Even at a cool $63,000, Volkswagen Group Australia is confident that R32 will be sold out mid-year, months before the new bodyshape Golf V appears in the last quarter of 2004.

Look at the specifications and you can understand VGA’s confidence. Developed by Volkswagen Racing, R32 is powered by VW Group’s narrow angle 24-valve 177kW/320Nm V6 engine mated to a close ratio six-speed gearbox.

Power is distributed to all four wheels via Volkswagen’s familiar 4Motion system, which is based on a Haldex coupling in the rear differential.

Performance is sparkling despite a reasonably hefty (for a small car) 1477kg kerb weight. Zero to 100km/h comes up in a claimed 6.6 seconds and the car is said to have a top speed of 247km/h. That’s on expensive 98 RON fuel, by the way. Fuel consumption is officially rated at 11.6L/100km.

Backing up the poke is a sports suspension system which lowers the front MacPherson strut and rear multi-link rear suspension designs by 20mm and adds sportier springs, shocks and front and rear anti-roll bars.

The power-assisted rack and pinion steering has been quickened up and made more direct, while the braking features large 334mm front and 256mm rear discs. Callipers are a very noticeable electric blue.

They peer out from behind stunning 18-inch 15-spoke OZ alloy wheels, which are shod with liquorice strap low-profile rubber.

The OZ wheels are an important part of a styling overhaul that gives the final iteration of Gen IV Golf a whole new persona compared to its more mundane rivals. Most importantly, R32 is based on the three-door bodyshell, as any hot hatch should be.

Highlights of the exterior include Xenon headlights, a bumper lower with three large honeycomb ventilation grilles and a low rear apron that integrates with muscular twin chrome-tipped exhausts. At the top edge of the rear hatch is an integrated spoiler.

Inside the car the sports theme continues with leather Konig sports seats up-front, which include front head restraints integrated into the back rests – a Golf first.

The "R" logo is embossed on all seats and features as well on the small, leather steering wheel, on the dashboard, gear lever and floormats. Brushed aluminium continues the sports theme on the pedal cluster, side footrest, centre console trim and door handles. Completing the look are individual number plates fitted to each car.

The equipment level is high. In terms of safety equipment there are driver and front passenger front and side airbags, as well as curtain airbags. There are acronyms aplenty as well – ABS, EBD, BA, ESP, EDL and ESR all help keep the show on the road. An alarm is also standard kit.

Comfort features include climate control air-conditioning, cruise control, six-disc CD changer, trip computer and power windows and mirrors. All that’s really missing is power assistance for the front seats.

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Did you know?

Golf R32 was initially in doubt for sale in Australia after being knocked back for import under the Federal Government's low volume import Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicle Scheme

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