No matter, this fourth-gen electro-hydraulic Haldex system is just right on this lighter package and its real innovation is that the new 435-psi-minimum oil pressure-activated system is always prepped to manage the driving forces and weight shifts much more quickly than the Haldex it replaces. The previous differential could also send 100 percent of traction to the front or rear axle, but this one just reacts now like swarming bees. Literally hammering around the local mountain roads or keeping revs around 6500 (redline at 7000) in the curves of an ice circuit on studded tires, the 2012 Volkswagen Golf R is always under control if you know more than half of what you're doing out there. And sometimes, I do.
On the slick stuff at least, the Sport ESP will still intervene while I'm trying to be prom king, kicking sideways and hand braking and such tomfoolery. But this is not exactly a dumb move for a series-built car that is almost encouraged to seek out controlled sledding in the hands of over-excited dopes. It corrects things just enough to keep the less capable out of the snow banks.
There's a good chance that North American Golf Rs will be speed limited and henpecked by their wives to 130 mph like the GTI and others. But I wasn't in North America.
At 155 mph on no-limit autobahn with that loud rock-and-roll music playing on the way back to Munich airport, there's that low twin-exhaust hum that's very close to the R32 note (pauses between tracks), only the greatly improved cabin sound-proofing letting less of it in. The chassis stability aided by the Sachs dampers and Mubea springs-20 percent more rigid than the GTI springs and lower the car an inch-is once again a premium, solid feel in either Comfort, Normal, or Sport of the Dynamic Chassis Control adaptive suspension electrics. North American sources say we'll get DCC loaded in with the base price.
While my tester didn't have optional 19-inch wheels, it did have the optional broad-shouldered and high-thighed Motorsports seats that, simply put, must come available in the United States or I shall set myself on fire in front of VWNA HQ. As on the Scirocco R, too, these Talladega wheels slay me, being equaled in the present GTI lineup by the optional 18-inch Khartoum black units. Accelerating hard to 60 mph with the DSG gearbox and Launch Control with these seats and Continental treads, ContiWinterContact TS all around, still took just 5.4 seconds, one second faster than the estimate for the R32.
For the everyday I would get the DSG. If I were slamming around a bit regularly and scaring carpool riders by shouting things like "Watch this!" I'd go with the diehard manual. Projections have two-thirds of Golf R buyers taking the DSG, in fact, and just over 70 percent going for the four-door. So send us the freakin' four-door this time.
VW North America is just a little nervous about bringing the Golf R in too hot on the heels of the new 200-hp GTI (quoted 208-hp SAE in Germany, by the way) that just arrived. But then VWNA has hesitated a lot over the past several years and that strategy has worked so well, hasn't it?
It will come, however reluctantly the business-case people on both sides of the ocean wring their Underoos. It would be a limited-issue edition of 3,000 cars max starting at $32,500 or so for a manual-equipped two-door.
Transverse front engine, front-wheel drive
2.0-liter I4, dohc, 16-valve, turbocharged
Six-speed manual; optional six-speed DSG automated manual
MacPherson strut configuration, Sachs dampers and Mubea springs, anti-roll bars
Single-piston sliding calipers with 13.58-inch ventilated steel discs (f), single-piston sliding caliper with 12.20-inch ventilated steel rotors
Peak Power: 266 hp @ 6000 rpm
Peak Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
0-62 mph: 5.4 sec. (DSG+launch)
Top Speed: 130 mph