R32 DSG-some said it couldn't be done. Others said not only that it couldn't-it shouldn't. There are enough disgruntled people complaining about the MkV R32 only coming with DSG that this project should take their gruntle, throw it on the floor and dance a jig on top of it. The owner of this particular twin-turbo R32 isn't afraid of a third pedal. With a collection of cars that includes a GT2 and a Corvette Z06, and more track hours logged than probably 90 percent of us, his semi-automatic swap wasn't necessitated by a lack of skill. He simply wanted to build the best Golf he possibly could, which called for the best gearbox on the planet.

I'm not going to argue the validity of DSG here. For that, there are countless threads online that go on for weeks about what a real enthusiast should do with his feet.

I can tell you, however, that this car really does benefit from the swap. There is so much power, it's so fast and handles so well, that, while driving the canyons, I never missed using my left foot.

This particular car is equipped with HPA's stage two twin-turbo set-up using Garrett GT25R hybrid turbos and twin side-mount intercoolers, good for roughly 550 hp at 19 psi. Custom manifolds are employed to mate the turbos to the heads and dump into twin 70mm downpipes.

After the cats, exhaust collects into an enormous single pipe running the length of the car back to the single muffler and dual tips in the rear. The sound of this car is amazing, relatively quiet at cruising speeds and growing to a roar at higher loads. Hearing this thing echo off the canyon walls is similar to someone waking you from a dead sleep by tearing a giant burlap sack right next to your ear in a silent room-only louder.

To balance out all the extra power, HPA installed massive 14.4-inch rotors at the front with eight-piston monobloc calipers that provide enough squeeze to turn charcoal into diamonds. This thing stops even harder than it accelerates.

Body movement is kept in check by KW coilovers built to HPA specs. The ride is ideal for the street. It works well on twisting roads too, providing a compliant ride with the predictable manners needed for real-world spirited driving. I would probably go with something stiffer if I were fitting R-compound rubber, but this works fine.

With so much performance, it's important to remember safety. HPA fabricated a custom roll bar that's one of the cleanest installs I've ever seen in a Golf. It looks as if it was designed and installed by the factory. To keep the driver in place, HPA opted for Recaro SPG seats-not the easiest to get in and out of, but perfect for committed driving, even commuting.

The car's color and understated look make it perfect for highway cruising. Reportedly, it gets even fewer looks than the owner's silver M5. He can cruise anonymously, unafraid of attracting law enforcement or boy racers who both routinely trawl SoCal roads looking for high-performance cars.

The owner says he does get occasional comments from people who recognize his car from the driving simulator, Gran Turismo. They always want to know if the real thing is as fast as the virtual version. His answer: it's faster.

2004 Volkswagen Golf R32
Transverse front engine, all-wheel drive

3.2-liter V6, dohc, 24-valve, HPA twin-turbo kit: GT25R turbos, dual side-mount intercoolers, custom software

Six-speed DSG, upgraded clutch packs

KW/HPA SHS coilovers,22mm anti-roll bar (r)

HPA stage three eight-piston monobloc calipers, 14.4-inch rotors (f), four-piston calipers with separate parking brake, 13.1-inch rotors (r)

*Wheels and Tires
BBS CH, 8.5x18
Dunlop Direzza DZ101, 225/40

HPA Club Sport roll bar, Recaro SPG seats, European MkIV R32 DSG steering wheel

Power: 550 hp
Torque: 500 lb-ft

HPA Motorsports
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