First Impressions
This car feels like it just left the showroom floor. No squeaks, rattles, or strange vibrations. It tracks dead-on straight and feels as balanced as any car I've ever driven.

The thick, three-spoke steering wheel has an anatomically perfect shape and the steering features plenty of tactile feedback, more than Audi's TT. Its brakes lack the firmness I'd like, but they appear to be more than adequate for spirited street/canyon use. Same goes for the suspension-it's more than capable of handling anything found on public roads.

For me, Volkswagen's R32 works on multiple levels. With its 40/60 fold-down rear seats, I can convert the car to something akin to a small station wagon. There's decent headroom for real adults, plus enough space to fit all manner of gear, from an entire Weber grill to a bunch of race tires. The rear seats are well defined and passenger-friendly. The front buckets and their oversized bolstering are like street-friendly race seats, fully adjustable and firm. Plus, they look extraordinarily cool.

Although clad in handsome factory aerodynamics, the R32's silhouette is that of the classic Golf. In other words, it attracts little unwanted attention. The R32 has become something of a 'stealth bomber,' a car favored by those who crave high performance without high visibility. We see several highly modded R32s on a regular basis, including the awesome twin-turbo model from ec's July 2007 issue. Its owner delights in scaring the bejesus out of the automotive ignorant. It's fun to watch them 'pour' out of an unassuming Golf.

Essentially, that will be the premise of this new ec project. We will build the world's most understated hot rod, a vehicle capable of frightening its passengers or ferrying them to Home Depot.

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