VOLKSWAGEN OF AMERICA LAUNCHES HIGHEST PERFORMANCE GOLF MODEL EVER
PHOENIX – Three decades after it began selling its famous Golf hatchback models, Volkswagen is unleashing North America’s most powerful and first-ever all-wheel-drive Golf. This new sport model is simply named R32—meaning “R” for racing and 3.2 for the car’s V6 engine displacement.
The sporty R32, arguably Volkswagen’s most aggressive and dynamic production “Drivers wanted” car ever, features a powerfully updated 3.2-liter version of the automaker’s famous VR6 engine—a six-cylinder powerplant that fits almost as snuggly as most four cylinders. The VR6’s notoriously powerful output in a relatively small space is possible only because of its unique narrow angle V design—revolutionary when first launched as a 2.8 liter version in the 1992 Volkswagen Corrado SLC—in which cylinders are set in a zigzag fashion and angled in space-saving rows only 15 degrees apart. All this volume fits under a single aluminum alloy cylinder head—a design that manifests the VR6’s notorious one-piece feeling of solid, well-spooled power delivery.
All told, the R32’s engine delivers a stunning 240 horsepower and 236 lbs. ft. of torque and accelerates from 0-60 miles per hour in 6.4 seconds. The maximum horsepower comes at 6,250 revolutions per minute. Just as importantly, the engine provides its top pulling power from 2,800 – 3,200 rpm, a characteristic that helps make the R32 a truly athletic sports hatch. In fact, the 3.2 VR6 is so powerful and technologically refined, it is used in Europe as the base engine in Volkswagen’s full-size ultra-luxury car, the Phaeton. Built in Bratislava, Slovakia, the same facility that builds the automaker’s awardwinning Touareg SUV, the R32 represents the fastest Volkswagen ever built in this class, with a 0-60 mph mark of just 6.4 seconds and among the best power-to-weight ratio of any Volkswagen production car.
The R32 is essentially a freshly designed car inside and out. Outside, it comes with true dual exhaust pipes, newly designed bumpers—the front one acting as a spoiler—a large honeycomb ventilation grill in the lower front apron, darkened taillights, rear spoiler, side skirts and model specific badging on the front grille and left rear. Standard color choices are “reflex silver metallic,” “tornado red,” “deep blue metallic,” and “black magic pearl effect.”
Inside, the R32 further reveals its special place in the history of the Golf by tastefully blending high-performance touches with exacting quality and Volkswagen’s renowned attention to detail. R32 and R logos are featured on the high performance sport seats (standard cloth with leatherette trim, leather is optional), alloy pedals, leather shift knob, instrument cluster, three-spoke leather steering wheel, doorsills and floor mats. Chrome surrounds the instrumentation, with the pivot heads of the needles matching. Alloy touches are used at nearly every visible or usable niche, including the side footrest, center console trim, interior door handles, doorsills, and even the handbrake button. The rear seats fold flat and allow for a 60/40 split.
Surprisingly, the R32 is equipped better than many luxury sedans. Standard items include automatic climate control (Climatronic™), heated front seats and washer nozzles, premium CD stereo with eight speakers, Monsoon® Sound System, power one-touch up and down windows, power glass sunroof, heated electrically adjustable side mirrors, antitheft alarm, radio remote control locking, cruise control, trip computer, and rain sensor wipers. With this long standard equipment list, Volkswagen has priced this ultimate Golf below $30,000 at $29,100.
The heart of the R32 is its new generation VR6 that continues to employ four valves per cylinder, with variable timing, with two chain driven overhead camshafts and maintenance-free hydraulic lifters. Obviously, unlike its 2.8 liter sibling, the 3.2 VR6 has a larger bore and stroke, 84 mm and 95.9 respectively. The compression ratio is 11.3:1. Other significant improvements that enhance performance include: a new intake system that optimizes air flow geometry through the plastic intake manifold with larger cross sections. The entrance into the intake ducts in the head has been raised to better direct and preserve the air flow to the valves, which have been correspondingly increased in diameter (intake) with newly shaped valve seat inserts.
Of course such an engine needs and deserves a new twin pipe exhaust system. Not only does this system optimize the exhaust process, it complement’s the R32’s sporty character with a specially tuned sound that was orchestrated to further excite the senses of the driver and please those he or she passes along the way. Designers also added to the R32’s dynamic looks by integrating the two chrome-plated tailpipes into the rear bumper. Mated to the 3.2 is a racing bred six-speed manual transmission that uses a hydraulic clutch. Only manual drivers need apply for the R32, as no automatic transmission is offered.
The layout of the R32’s running gear exceeds what is expected. Up front, it uses McPherson struts and lower wishbones; in the rear, with 4MOTION®, the R32 is fully independent using a multi-link rear suspension with dual-link trailing arms. This is mounted on a subframe and coupled to the running gear via rubber vibration dampers. Of course the rear axle design allows for all-wheel-drive, and the anti-roll bars on both axles, as previously alluded to, have been significantly strengthened compared to any other fourth-generation Golf.
As expected in a sporty version such as this, the R32’s running gear is lowered by 22 mm compared to the GTI VR6. This model also employs aggressive shocks and springs, and the R32’s steering is redesigned for more direct input and even better response and agility.
As the first Volkswagen (in the U.S.) in this category to use all-wheel-drive, the R32’s 4MOTION system is a key new feature that adds to its sporty nature and improves its ability to handle varying road conditions. When operating the R32, the driver will appreciate the transparent performance of the 4MOTION system.
At the core of this system is Volkswagen’s unique electronically controlled Haldex coupling in the rear axle differential. 4MOTION uses hydraulic and electronics to detect grip conditions, powertrain forces and then determines whether power should go to the front or rear wheels. Handling is nearly neutral, with no excessive oversteer or understeer.
4MOTION helps with handling and acceleration in slippery conditions to control the car’s power by helping manage wheel traction and thereby reducing sudden steering jerks, even when spurts of power are applied. Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP) and Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR) overlay this sophisticated system.
As expected of high-performance cars, the R32 stops as well as it accelerates by way of large, ventilated ABS disc brakes at the front and rear. The brakes’ four-piston calipers are visible in blue behind special 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped with Y-rated performance rubber.
The Volkswagen R32, like all modern Volkswagens, is equipped with an advanced side-impact safety system called Side Curtain Protection™, an airbag supplemental restraint system that helps protect heads and upper torsos from injury. Side Curtain Protection deploys a protective curtain of air from the important A-pillar to C-pillar areas, providing occupant protection on all side windows.
Additionally the car offers front and side airbag supplemental restraints; front integrated head rests and three-point safety belts in all seating positions, with front seatbelt pre-tensioners and shoulder height adjustment; and the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) system in the rear outboard seating positions for installation of child seats.
For 2004, all Volkswagen cars have a standard four-year/50,000-mile (whichever occurs first) bumper-to-bumper warranty, covering wear-and-tear items and adjustments during the initial 12 months or 12,000 miles of ownership. Additional coverage includes a five-year/60,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, corrosion perforation coverage for 12 years with unlimited mileage for all fully galvanized Volkswagen vehicles and four years/50,000 miles of 24-hour roadside assistance.
Story by Volkswagen