After the success of its limited-production 2004 R32, Volkswagen is bringing out a new version based on the redesigned Rabbit/GTI. What distinguishes the R32 from the GTI is its 3.2-liter six-cylinder and 4Motion all-wheel drive. Unlike the GTI, the R32 will be produced only as a two-door.
Also distinguishing the R32 from the GTI are its wider, lower stance, centered dual tailpipes, and yet another interpretation of the new plunging VW grille that incorporates brushed aluminum. Side skirts further the ground-hugging look. A rear roof spoiler and a moonroof are standard.
Through the 18-inch multispoke wheels can be seen blue brake calipers and extra large discs. The all-wheel drive might attract foul-weather buyers, but the R32 comes with summer performance tires that aren't the best choice for snow and ice.
The R32 will be offered in blue, gray, red and white.
The interior has R logos on its heated leather sport seats and on the stainless steel pedals. The austere but high-quality interior has metallic trim on the dashboard and steering wheel, which also bears a number telling you which of the 5,000 R32s that are being produced you bought.
Under the Hood
The GTI comes only with an excellent 200-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The R32's 3.2-liter generates 250 hp and more than 230 pounds-feet of torque. The 3.2-liter, which is the source of the 32 in the model name, is a staggered inline-six — or what VW has traditionally called a VR6. (It's not a true V-6 because it has one head; the odd-numbered cylinders are offset by 15 degrees.) VW says the R32 sprints to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds.
The 2004 R32 was fun to drive, but a bit front-heavy. Now, in place of the Quattro AWD system — which split the torque 50/50 between the front and rear wheels — is a 4Matic system that apportions up to 75 percent of the torque to the rear wheels for better balance and handling.
The well-regarded Direct Shift Gearbox, an automated six-speed manual, is standard. There's no plan for a true manual transmission.
Safety features include antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system and six airbags, including side curtains and side torso airbags for the front seats.