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Volkswagen golf 5 r32 performance

An interesting reaction you might think, given that the GTi has been one of the outstanding hot hatches of the last decade. But that’s the thing you see. For the R32 to park confidently as the performance-mobile in the Golf range, it shouldn’t just be the one up from the GTi, it should be the excitement machine. It should be goose-bump raising adrenalin on four tyres - and worth every cent of the extra several thousand dollars spent.

With all this in mind and not one to judge to quickly, I thought I’d better decide for myself.

A completely new radiator grill fronts the R32 and comprises two shiny, aluminium twin strips instead of the black honeycomb pattern of the GTi. A polished R32 badge sits to the left. The grill rests above 3 huge air intakes, and between self adjusting, bi-xenon headlamps.

Assisting in the achievement of a sporty look, body-coloured bumpers and door handles, together with a 20mm lower chassis give the car its aerodynamic aspect. Centrally-mounted, twin exhausts plus rear roof and deep front spoilers make up the muscular, aggressive form one expects from a true performer.

Generally, Volkswagen does its best to style interiors that will date well. They do this by coupling quality materials with simple design. R32 badging, ‘engine spin’ aluminium trim and a great looking instrument cluster - unique to the R32, are the only subtle differences that separate it from the rest of the Golf range.

Everything is solid and tight with not a hint of poor workmanship or potential for rattles.

Engine and Safety
The 3.2 litre V6 petrol engine gives you a nifty 184 kW at 6300 rpm, which is about 40 more than the GTi, and a solid 320 Nm of torque at around 3000 revs. Power is distributed to all 4 wheels via Volkswagens 4 MOTION system which aims to achieve better traction and improved safety.

The R32 achieved 5 stars in its Euro NCAP crash testing program and comes standard with ABS, EBS, ESP and a comprehensive airbag package.

On the road
I was keen to give the R32 a good run, even after hearing that it wasn’t hugely different from the GTi, and after the first few k’s along a vast stretch of car-less, winding road, I was having a lot of fun. The exhaust note was guttural and raw. The four wheel drive and big 18 inch wheels, stuck the car to the bitumen on the tightest of turns, and braking and acceleration was precise and true. I was expecting the lowered suspension to be stiff, but not as jarring as I experienced, even with the support of Vienna leather or Recaro seats. It became uncomfortable after a while and I suspected the everyday driver might become a little miffed having to scour the floor every hour for dislodged fillings.

Noise from the slightly rough road was quite loud inside the cabin and the steering wheel, same as other cars in the range, was too far away with no option to readjust.

Ours was the Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) version but you can choose regular manual if you wish. Personally I prefer the good old fashioned gear stick over paddle shift but you can get 6.2 seconds for the 100 kms with the DSG, rather than 6.5 with the stick. I could probably take or leave that but I will welcome the better fuel economy you get with the DSG at 9.8l/100 kms.

I didn’t get the same adrenalin rush that I did in the WRX STi for example, or the Evo – and I was really hoping I would, considering all three are the ‘performance’ cars in their line ups. I wanted my stomach to fill my throat but there was none of that.

Perhaps it’s the 200 odd kilos that the R32 has over the GTi, or that I had held my hopes a fraction too high. But there was nowhere near enough notable difference in performance or looks that I thought there should have been, for the R32 to fit comfortably and justifiably at the top of the grid.

You can get 3 and 5 door versions of the R32. Pricing starts at $54, 990.