Volkswagen Golf R 400 Concept: First Look

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Looks like: A Volkswagen Golf R that came back from summer break between junior high and high school rocking a more athletic build and edgier fashions for freshman year
Defining characteristics: Sharper edges, defining creases and a squared-off shape on the outside; race-ready appointments on the inside; amped-up engine under the hood
Ridiculous features: Bolstered-and-badged sport seats with supersized head restraints resembling a sad space invader
Chance of being mass-produced: Seems pretty esoteric, most fitting as a tribute to VW’s racing history

Attention race fans and hot-hatch enthusiasts: Volkswagen has taken its performance-focused compact hatchback, the Golf R, and tricked it out for the track. Following its global debut earlier this year at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show, the rally-sport-themed Golf R 400 concept will make its first North American pit stop next week at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. The concept car’s purpose is to pay tribute to VW’s racing history.

Related: More 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show Coverage

According to the automaker, the Golf R 400’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine gets a hefty 100-plus-horsepower boost to 394 hp compared with the regular R’s 292 hp, which VW says is delivered at roughly 200 hp per liter — on par with the output of a supercar. That’s in addition to a torque increase from 332 pounds-feet from 280 pounds-feet. Power to the all-wheel-drive system is channeled through a six-speed manual transmission for a zero-to-62-mph sprint of 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 174 mph. Two driver-selectable modes include ESC Sport for “spirited driving” and Race mode for “high-speed track driving.”

Outside, designers widened the body by 0.8 inches on each side to accommodate the more protrusive 19-inch wheels. The R 400 also gets a flared bumper and rear fenders, while the car’s lower sides have a wraparound carbon-fiber splitter. In the glossy, yellow-accented black grille, a slot serves as an air intake, while central air inlets are surrounded by C-shaped winglike elements with glossy black inserts, between which is a protective honeycomb screen, as well as a faux-carbon-fiber front splitter. Rear-end exterior features include wraparound splitters that transition into a protruding diffuser with a pair of integrated exhaust pipes; a redesigned bumper with C-shaped carbon inlays at each end; wheel-arch exhaust vents; and a black roof that transitions into a roof spoiler with an integrated LED bar.

Inside the cockpit are motorsport-style bucket seats with integrated head restraints that feature seat belt openings and embroidered “R” badging; quilted middle seat panels; and unique leather-covered seat bolsters, headrests, lower lateral supports and divided rear seats. Other flourishes include glossy carbon and yellow contrast stitching, white ambient lighting around the door accents and stainless-steel doorsill plates.

The L.A. auto show kicks off with media- and industry-only events Tuesday through Thursday and opens to the public Nov. 21-30. Check back for’s coverage from the show floor.

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Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers. Email Matt Schmitz

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