Volkswagen invented the GTI segment in the 1970s and now with the second generation R32 they attempt to raise the bar further.
The Mk5 Golf GTI is a cracker. Ask anyone who’s driven one and they will tell you it handles and brakes better and has more than adequate power from its 2 litre four cylinder turbo. But what if you want more, bigger brakes and wheels, maybe a six cylinder or even four wheel drive -“ where to turn?
Well, look no further than your Volkswagen dealer because there you will find the latest R32 Golf with an 184kw V6 with 4Motion four wheel drive. Along with the impressive drive train you get larger brakes, six speed manual gearbox, dual chrome- tipped exhausts and Bi Xenon headlights. The R32 can be easily distinguished from its siblings by its chrome grille, 20-spoke 18inch wheels, unique body kit and 20mm lowered stance.
With the R32 you get the option of three or five doors, manual or auto DSG gearbox and a slight increase in power. Inside you will find perfectly positioned alloy foot pedals sports seats and steering wheel.
The DSG gearbox as always is a joy to drive and listening to the 3.2 litre V6 roar as the gears change up and down will almost certainly initiate a smile on your face. There will be some of you who will want a manual gearbox regardless of the auto’s quicker 0 to 100 time (auto 6.2, man 6.5) and better fuel economy (auto 9.8, manual 10.8). It is a very clever gearbox that must be experienced prior to being omitted from the options list.
The driving position is excellent and you’re sure to find your comfort zone as you grip the three-spoked flat bottomed steering wheel. You tend to forget you’re driving a Golf hatchback; it feels like a larger sports car with its spacious cabin and tall roof line.
On the road it’s very difficult to simply punt around from A to B; you want to launch off every set of traffic lights. The engine loves to rev, the lowered suspension increases your cornering confidence and the brakes will bring you to a halt with ease. The 4Motion feels almost front wheel drive in normal driving conditions. However, push the R32 hard and you can feel all four tyres bite into the bitumen.
Though this is the most powerful production Golf in history, the R32 has some stiff competition, such as the WRX STi, Mitsubishi EVO, BMW 130 and the Audi S3.
However, the biggest rival comes from within the VW group in the form of the Golf GTI. Granted the front wheel drive GTI won’t stick to the road around corners like the R32 will, especially in the wet, but don’t forget the GTI is almost 200kg lighter and over 10 grand cheaper. That’s a lot of money when you start ticking the option list. It really comes down to if you like the setup of the front wheel drive turbo or four wheel drive naturally aspirated V6.
The R32 is a blast to drive and you really can’t get enough of that engine note.
Engine: 3.2 litre V6 petrol
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, 6-speed manual
Power: 183kW, 320Nm
Fuel: 9.8, 10.8