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VW Debuts R GTI Concept at SEMA

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Last year, Volkswagen unveiled some very cool, very high-powered in-house performance variants of their Jetta, Passat and Touareg with a simple R badge. These were some cool-looking concepts that led many to think that VW would offer them in limited numbers. Alas, it never happened. So we’re a bit dismayed to be teased once again this year by a great looking, amped up VW, this time called the R GTI.

The new GTI by itself is a great performer. Add on a more powerful turbocharger to the stock car and somehow VW and partner APR wrangle 375 hp out of the hot hatchback. There are much larger tires and wheels — 19-inch at that — and a limited slip-differential to get all the power to the road, while Brembo brakes help stop the sucker. A much larger intercooler is needed for the turbo and that led to a change in the grille design that makes the GTI look pretty mean. 

The GTI will probably never see these treatments at the factory but because VW used major aftermarket manufacturers and parts a few VW fanatics could probably replicate this in their own garage. We expect VW to develop an R version of the GTI as either a R32 or R36. Those are likely to feature a V-6 and not a turbo four-cylinder, but we’re hoping for the R GTI’s front end to make the transition regardless. 

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Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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