At the 2004 North American International Auto Show, Volkswagen unveiled its new high-performance version of the Golf hatchback. Not only is the R32 the most powerful Golf-based model ever, but it’s also the first car of its type in the U.S. market to come with all-wheel drive.
Volkswagen’s 3.2-liter V-6 engine generates 240 horsepower and 236 pounds-feet of torque in the R32. That’s sufficient to yield a 0-to-60-mph acceleration time of 6.4 seconds. Manufactured in Bratislava, Slovakia, the R32 went on sale as a 2004 model. Volkswagen produces a sporty GTI model, which is also based on the Golf hatchback.
In overall appearance, the R32 and regular Golf hatchback are similar, but the R32 has special body components that impart a high-performance aura. A high-mounted rear spoiler, front and rear valances, and matching-color side skirts are installed. The body-colored grille features a center logo. Specific R32 badging is evident on both the front grille and the left rear of the car.
Alloy wheels hold P225/40R18 tires, and the R32 has blue four-piston brake calipers. Stiffened anti-sway bars are installed in the front and rear, and the car has a fully independent multilink rear suspension. A power glass sunroof is standard.
Like the Golf, five occupants fit inside the R32. The sport seats have “R” logos, the cloth seat fabric is leatherette-trimmed, and leather seating surfaces are available. Lumbar adjustment is included for both front occupants. The front seat can move forward for easier access to the 60/40-split, folding rear seat. The driver faces a telescoping, height-adjustable steering column with a three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Standard equipment includes alloy pedals, a leather-covered gearshift knob, floormats, electronic climate control, cruise control, an anti-theft alarm with an immobilizer, and power windows, locks and mirrors. Cargo volume is 14 cubic feet with the rear seat up and 38.8 cubic feet when the seat is folded. Two cupholders for front occupants and one cupholder for backseat passengers are installed. Storage pockets in the front doors are rubber-lined.
Built on a 99.1-inch wheelbase, the R32 hatchback is 164.4 inches long overall and 56.1 inches tall. Ground clearance is 4.2 inches. Rain-sensing wipers and a rear wiper and washer system are standard. The Monsoon eight-speaker sound system includes a cassette and CD player. A trunk-mounted CD changer may be installed by the dealer.
Under the Hood
A 3.2-liter V-6 engine produces 240 hp at 6,250 rpm and 236 pounds-feet of torque at 2,800 to 3,200 rpm; it works with a six-speed-manual transmission. Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system is standard, and the R32 has a true dual exhaust system. Premium fuel is recommended for maximum performance. Traction control is standard.
All-disc antilock brakes incorporate Brake Assist. An Electronic Stabilization Program, side-impact airbags and side curtain-type airbags are standard.