So, no MkIII "VW364" Scirocco R from Wolfsburg for us U.S. Desert Jackals. But we do get the MkVI "VW360" Golf R hot hatch with a touch more horsepower (at 266) and the same torque (at 258 lb-ft) as the Scirocco R. On the other hand, we have to do the long waiting game we've gotten so used to; our Golf Rs not arriving until the second quarter of 2011. What, do we need to dance for our damned dinner too?
At least the Golf R with the fourth-generation version of Haldex 4Motion is a better all-around hot squirt than any like competitor on the planet and therefore worth the wait. It's not a retina-separating experience, no. However, it smothers the old 247-hp R32 V6 in all ways but exhaust sound satisfaction. And it's not far off there either.
And so I just roaded the 2012 Golf R in the snow-thick Austrian Alps with Continental winter tires and then with studded units-and whether with six-speed manual or DSG dual-clutch automatic (both designed and built in-house by VW), this trunkless range-topping Golf goes hard, yet kills softly with its song.
On American soil, the MkV R32 really was a bit of a legend, with breathless bulletin boards all a-gush with how it kicked so much damned ass.
It didn't by much really. The 4Motion was the big draw for most R32 buyers, and then there was that turbo-less 3.2-liter V6. Apparently it just didn't matter how underpowered that heavy engine is/was for all the show and dough; it spoke to our American Pavlov-thing for "at least a V6, dude." That engine was never really any good in the Audi TT either and for the exact same reasons. But, boy, the thing could sing real pretty.
It's time for the exceptionally better TSI 2.0-liter in-line four-cylinder strategy. First, 266 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque from a lighter, more fuel-efficient turbocharged transverse four is a lot better than 247 hp and 236 lb-ft from a heavy and fuel-sucking, turbo-less, wedged-in transverse V6. Then, after all my scientific-like 'rithmatic, I can't deny that 12.6 pounds per hp to haul around in the new Golf R is a lot better than the R32's 14.2 pounds per. Added-value info moment: the brand new MkVI GTI with latest "EA888" family turbo four burdens each horse with 15.8 pounds. Yes, it starts at $23,664, too, while the Golf R will probably crest $32k, but, well, the R support group knows what I'm insinuating. In isolated niche cases like the Golf R, take your "high price to pay" commentary and shove it.
This 2.0 TSI Golf R is exactly what is needed to stop the boy-racer criticism routinely scoffed toward smaller four-cylinder turbocharged cars in the U.S. The premium-ness in the build of the 2012 Volkswagen Golf R is not to be believed. All of the long list of subtler upgrades in manufacturing and NVH work have made the MkVI Golf family as substantial as an Audi A8.
And then there they are: The latest 4Motion four-wheel-drive action felt through the GTI-style flat-bottom steering wheel helping throttle numbers and making playtime of snowy roads, plus the sheer quality of the interior design and feel that this time isn't compensating for any shortcoming in another department. And particularly as a four-door hatch, the new Golf R looks normal-ish, certainly if compared to the blatant sport stance designed into the Scirocco lineup or even the GTI. Normalness can sometimes be a great asset.
The weather in the Austrian Alps for my Golf R drive was perfect for testing the majority of the reasons for buying one. Though there are engineering and driving-hard reasons why I'd prefer a mechanical Torsen, no car built on the VW Group's PQ35 chassis has ever had anything but a Haldex.