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‘R’ rules at Volkswagen

New brand: VW's slick Golf R headlines the new 'R' performance brand.

VW’s ‘R’ stands for racy road rockets as German company spins off hot-shop brand

17 Mar 2010

BMW has its M, Mercedes-Benz chose AMG, and now Volkswagen has gone for R.

Europe’s biggest car-maker has created a new subsidiary, Volkswagen R GmbH, to develop pumped-up sports variants of VW models under a single R badge umbrella to capture some of the same aura enjoyed by its rivals’ exclusive performance arms.

The first of these top-shelf VW vehicles to head down under will be the Golf R, in mid-year.

In making the shift to a stand-alone hot-shop operation – first mooted when the Golf R appeared at last year’s Frankfurt motor show – VW has also simplified the model designation of its hot-shot models by removing the figures representing the engine size, as in Golf R32 (for 3.2-litre).

At the same time, it more clearly sets VW’s range-topping high-performance models apart from the more prosaic vehicles in the range.

While R variants will still be turned out from same production lines as conventional models, they will be designed, engineered and marketed by the new company’s own staff of 350 based in R headquarters in Warmenau, near VW’s Wolfsburg heartland.

The new subsidiary will also develop VW’s softer sports packages, marketed under the R Line brand, as well as luxury Volkswagen Exclusive accessories.

Volkswagen R general manager Ulrich Riestenpatt gt. Richter said the R-cars would contribute to the “emotionalisation” and growth of VW.

“The company’s name, Volkswagen R GmbH, responds to the increased global demand for individualised vehicles with contemporary sportiness and exclusivity,” he said.

3 center imageLeft: Scirocco R.

“The sporty positioning will be reflected more intensely in the programme of Volkswagen R in the mid and long term.”

Since the demise of the Golf R32 with the superseded Mark V Golf range, only two R-branded VW models have been sold in Australia – the 3.6-litre direct-injected V6 Passat R36 and the stonking 5.0-litre V10 diesel Toureg R50.

That will change with the arrival of the Golf R32’s successor, the all-wheel-drive Golf R, in mid year.

The engine will be downsized from the previous generation’s 3.2-litre V6 to a high-performance turbo-charged direct-injection EA113 2.0-litre TSI four-cylinder petrol four cylinder with 188kW of power and about 350Nm of torque.

While the power rating is down on the 199kW European spec, it is still superior to the 184kW of the previous V6. It is also well ahead of the latest generation front-wheel-drive Golf GTI, with 155kW.

VW has received Australian Design Rule certification for Golf R in both five and three-door guises, but VW says it is planning to consolidate the R to a single five-door spec.

Another R car, Europe’s Golf-based Scirocco R, remains on the VW Australia’s wishlist, but at this stage, its arrival is uncertain.

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