Almost two decades of Golf R goodness


As Volkswagen rolled out its latest-generation Golf R, the company looked back at the previous iterations of the GTI's all-wheel drive sibling. 

The first Golf to wear an “R” badge from the Volkswagen Racing division was unveiled in Madrid in 2002, following a concept that was shown a year earlier.

"While the Golf GTI had created the hot-hatch segment, Volkswagen engineers envisioned an even higher-performing model that drew from the company’s success in rallying," VW USA said.  

The Golf R32 was said to offer an advanced running gear: a high-output 3.2-liter VR6 with 240hp linked to the standard 4Motion AWD system that sent power to the rear axle as needed.


In Europe, the Golf R32 also debuted a DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission, which is "a first for a production vehicle." In North America, the 5,000 examples of the R32 came only with a six-speed manual. 

This OG R32 "set the template" of AWD and the Deep Blue Pearl paint job that became the nameplate's signatures.  

With the arrival of a new generation of Golf came a reworked Golf R32 in 2005. Power rose to 250hp, and other enhancements allowed the Golf R32 to go from zero to 100kph in 6.2 seconds with the DSG transmission, VW said.


The interior of the Golf R32 was also upgraded, offering a mix of technology and near-luxury appointments. The US version was imported starting in a limited, 5,000-vehicle production run for the 2008 model year, available only with a DSG transmission and paddle shifters, featuring a production number laser-etched on the steering wheel.

At the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2009, Volkswagen unveiled the new Golf R. This third AWD hot Golf featured a "more advanced" 4Motion system, and an uprated two-liter TSI mill from the GTI, which made 256hp (for the US version). 

A new signature blue debuted for the Golf R, known as Rising Blue Metallic. Offered in both two- and four-door models, with trademark center exhaust and six-speed manual transmission only, Volkswagen began importing the new Golf R to the United States in 2012.


This Golf R was updated in 2013, and arrived in the US in 2015. Power rose to 288hp, and the car was offered with either a six-speed manual or DSG transmission, then later upgraded to the seven speeds.

Technological innovations like launch control and the DCC adaptive damping system (DCC) gave the Golf R even better handling. Meanwhile, its nil-to-century time came less than five seconds with the DSG transmission, VW added.

On its exterior, Lapiz Blue Metallic was the new hue.

As for the 2022 Golf R, expected to arrive in the US later this year, is said to be the "most powerful version yet."


In this generation, power from the two-liter EA888 TSI engine has risen to 315hp, 27 more than the outgoing U.S. model, as well as 420Nm of torque.

Developed in part on the famed Nürburgring Nordshleife, a new torque-vectoring 4Motion AWD, and a Vehicle Dynamics Manager, allow selective wheel torque control on the rear axle.

Both systems distribute the power between the front and rear axles, and also between the two rear wheels for optimal cornering, VW said.

The updated systems even enable a Drift Mode for track use, a first in a Volkswagen production model. 

Photos from Volkswagen

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