Marcel Horn dismisses the notion of rocket science with a wave of his hand. The 2000 Golf in question packs some 280 bhp and 286 lb-ft of twist, and it relies on the Haldex-based awd driveline made famous by Audi. And while that puts it in league with killers like Subaru's STi and Mitsu's Evo VIII, its understated appearance makes it look more like a grocery-getter than the street missile it is.

"It was largely a bolt-on project," said Horn of HPA.

"I wanted a practical car for the wife and my infant son, Garrett. Oh yeah, and it needed to do the 1/4-mile in the mid 13s and perform in the snow. This is how it turned out."

This car is the product of VW's platform-sharing technology, which makes it fairly simple to mix and match parts from various models. The formula here was to use the twin-intercooled 1.8t engine from the 225-bhp Audi TT, its transmission, and most of its driveline parts.

"The only issue we had with the TT driveline was its length. It's a bit shorter in the Audi. We used the factory extenders from the European-spec Golf/Bora. Still, they were simple bolt-on parts." said Horn.

The 1.8t motor was reworked with HPA's Stage II K04 turbo program, which includes a new turbo housing and HPA's proprietary downpipe for an unrestricted flow from the turbocharger. HPA's own software ensures the engine performs to its up rated parameters. The TT's twin exhaust was retained and pokes out the modified rear valence. Perhaps the most challenging part of the installation was using the TT's steering rack to clear the exhaust piping. Still, it simply bolted right in.

In keeping with is sleeper appearance, the Golf wears KW Cup wheels and is suspended with KW's Variant II coilovers specifically for the awd system. Brakes are HPA's own blend of VW Motorsport stock, comprised of huge 335mm rotors and two-piston floating calipers. The body includes Euro-spec bumpers and HID lights with electronic adjusters.

A few minutes spent behind the wheel revealed a car Volkswagen would have been proud to call its own. Quiet and well mannered, it nonetheless provided forward thrust on a par with a 911. It flies off the line like it's been launched from an aircraft carrier catapult-care must be taken to keep up with shifting duties as redline comes with frightening brevity. By a seat-of-the-pants sensation, this car will hit 60 mph in under 6 sec. Interestingly, Horn upgraded the instrumentation to Euro-spec gauges with a 320-kph speedometer and has inserted an LED boost readout in the tachometer. I didn't have time or nerve to look at either, as I was more focused on keeping this beast on the road. Handling could best be described as neutral with the deciding factor being the right foot. Like most awd-equipped vehicles, this car was very forgiving-screw up and it will let you get away with it-drive it well and you own the road.

Although Volkswagen's R32 has become the cover-boy for VW performance, it's good to see that with some ingenuity the average man can hang with factory offerings. And do it with twice the doors and a trunkful of groceries.

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