The latest and most powerful Volkswagen Golf R ever created makes its first public appearance in European trim at the Frankfurt Auto Show. While the automaker has yet to confirm when we'll see a variation turn up in America, this fourth-generation Golf R promises to be nothing short of spectacular when it hits showrooms in Germany late this year.
In keeping with the times, the new Golf R boasts not only more power but also greater fuel efficiency than any of its predecessors, courtesy of a new 2.0-liter TSI turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. This highly modified version of VW's EA888 used in the Euro-spec GTI gets its extra kick from numerous enhancements highlighted by a redesigned cylinder head, high-pressure fuel injection, enhanced thermal management and greater turbo boost. Collectively, they allow the engine to crank out a heady 296 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and make 280 lb-ft of peak torque from 1,800-5,500 rpm compared to the standard GTI's 227/258 output stats.
In addition to boasting 40 more ponies than the engine in the current Golf R model, this tech-rich motivator delivers up to 18 percent better fuel economy -- 34 mpg combined on the less-stringent Euro Cycle -- when paired with the optional 6-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission in place of the standard 6-speed manual. The DSG-equipped Golf R is quicker, too, sprinting from 0-62 mph in just 4.9 seconds compared to 5.3 ticks for a manual car. However, the top speed of both is electronically limited to 155 mph.
To help extract the full potential of its recast powertrain, the Golf R is fitted with a new lower-riding sport suspension, quicker progressive-ratio steering and larger disc brakes as well as the latest generation of VW's signature 4Motion all-wheel drive. It now teams a faster-responding Haldex 5 center coupling with four electronic differential locks to maximize available traction at each wheel and adds XDS+ technology to improve the Golf R's tracking in corners while giving it a more neutral overall feel. This hot VW also boasts a dual-mode ESC Sport stability control with higher engagement thresholds as well as a Golf R-exclusive full-off setting. Harder-core buyers can opt for a new Gen II Dynamic Chassis Control adjustable damping system that offers multiple settings from "Eco" to Golf R-exclusive "Race."
As always, the Golf R's exterior has been ungraded to look the part of a proper road rager in both 3-door and 5-door hatch configurations. A full body kit that brings edgier fascia styling and custom side sills is teamed with 18-inch Cadiz alloy wheels wrapped in 225/40 tires that can swapped for an optional 19-inch fitment. Up front, a bespoke grille is framed by LED running lamps, bi-xenon headlights and bigger front air intakes, while the Golf R's tail sports smoked lamp lenses and a functional lower diffuser with dual-paired chrome exhaust outlets.
The bad-boy look carries over to the Golf R's Cabin, where its torso-hugging sports seats offer the choice of two-tone cloth/Alcantara or an available Nappa-carbon leather combo set off by Carbon Touch dash/door accents. Other unique touches include an R-tweaked main instrument cluster and center touchscreen display, 3-spoke sport steering wheel and stainless-steel look sport pedals.
While the first of the new "Gen VII" Golf models are set to arrive here next spring as 2015s, VW says that no final decision has been made as to whether the new Golf R will be included in the mix. At this point, all the automaker has confirmed is that the earliest we might expect to see a new Golf R in U.S. showrooms would be in late 2014 or early 2015.
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