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See the R32 and hear its engine and exhaust as well as a short drive by.  Click Here

2004 Volkswagen Golf R32

The Good:  Stylish & sporty exterior.  Good ergonomics inside.  Powerful engine.  Sporty exhaust.  Great steering feel and aggressive suspension.  Functional interior.
The Bad:  Made for a small niche market.  Seats too bolstered for larger adults and not comfortable for long rides.  Ride is too stiff for bumpy roads.  Has the feeling of an import tuner, so teenagers want it but cant afford it, and the 30 something crowd is looking for something more mature.  Very low production numbers means real world price near MSRP.  

VW has been building pocket rockets since the early eightyís.  Its long-term knowledge of how to do it right in Germany has been copied by many automakers from Asia to the US.  Volkswagen shows off their expertise in this new model named the R32.  This little Golf is a fire-breathing dragon, utilizing the newly developed compact 3.2-liter V6 engine.  It is packed with every tweak you could expect from a manufacturer, and of course its 4Motion all-wheel drive system simply adds to the excitement of driving this little beast. 

The R32, with a sharp handsome exterior and enough modifications to enter it into a SCCA race, stands uniquely apart from its other Golf siblings.  Body cladding is bold and very low to the ground.  The large front apron features three large mesh grills, of which the driverís side grill is filled in with plastic.  The side skirts are subtle and flow with the overall design well.  The rear apron features lower air channels and large dual chrome tipped exhaust pipes.  Even dark tinted rear taillights and a small spoiler on the roof adds to the hot look of this little machine.

The R32 is powered by a small and compact 3.2-Liter V6 making 240 horsepower and 236 pounds of torque.  This is the same engine used in the Porsche Cayenne and the recently tested Audi TT 3.2.  The R32 uses a six speed manual transmission with a smooth hydraulic clutch.  A 4Motion all-wheel drive system with a Haldex differential sends power to all four wheels, grabbing the pavement without any slippage.  The R32 is also loaded with anti-slip regulation, electronic differential lock, and an electronic stabilization program with brake assist.

The R32 weighs less than most other cars with a V6 engine, hence acceleration is very impressive.  Zero to sixty takes just 6.1 seconds.  And the quarter mile comes in at 14.5 seconds with a 98 mph speed.  The engine revs freely, with a nice soft clutch and great transmission, everything is perfect for spirited driving.  The shift gate offers a nice feeling of engagement that most other cars lack today.  Body lean and sway is very low, as you would expect.  The sport suspension features independent front McPherson struts and a fully independent multi-link rear suspension with dual-link trailing arms.  The suspension is lowered with stiffer springs and thicker anti-roll bars as compared to GTI models.  In normal daily driving the R32ís setup offers smooth handling without any bounce but hit a pothole or an uneven road surface and you will surely feel the jolt.  Braking is also well done with the blue colored 4-piston brake calipers on large front and rear discs brakes.  Stops from sixty take only 113 feet, and that brings this Golf into Porsche territory.

            The R32 loves high speeds and getting there is quick and effortless with plenty of growl.  Power in every gear is there when you need it.  Even in sixth gear, passing on the highway is done smoothly and with confidence.  VW made this car for the autobahn and the R32 is highly stable at those speeds.  Road feel is excellent and the feeling of a solidly built machine is evident.

We recently tested the Audi TT which also features the same engine but felt much more planted with its wider track, and this great feeling is lacking in the R32.  The R32 is sticky and low to the ground, but the shape of the car and seating position do not make it feel like a superb driving machine.  If you look at numbers the story changes back to a high performance vehicle, we could easily pull .84 Gís on a turn in our track.  Serious wheels and rubber adorn the R32. 7.5 x 18 inch alloys with Goodyear 225/40 ZR summer performance tires with the V pattern on their treads look great.  The four-wheel drive system pushes you forward evenly, with low levels of noise from the undercarriage. The dual exhaust system produces very nice sound, specially around 3-4,000 RPM.  Put the car in sixth gear and a deep growl is felt inside the cabin.  The sound is also great as you get in and turn the key, a high pitched rumble from the exhausts really puts a smile on your face.

The interior is slick and adorned with leather.  What grabs you first are the very large Konig racing style seats with R32 logos.  Authentic brushed aluminum trim is used in the center console and on the doorsills, with polished aluminum pedals add to the street-tuned machine look.  We found that the seats were not very comfortable for long rides and for large people.  The seat bottoms had bolsters that were just too high and were not adjustable causing you to sit with your legs crammed together.  We think that if you are going to make an extreme car, it should be adjustable to all drivers.  The seats made this car very uncomfortable to drive, not to mention that they made the interior feel smaller as well.  Try to turn and look at the back seat and all you are likely to see is the other seat right next to you.  Because of the width of the seats, our arms could not fit down the sides to adjust the backrest.  Everything is manual we might add, and we think they should be powered in such an expensive vehicle; perhaps even having buttons on the door is best if VW ever chooses to follow our recommendations.  The driverís seat moves forward and aft and has height adjustment to move the back bottom of the seat up, as well as manual adjustment of back lumbar cushion to push it outward quite a bit.  A lever allows the entire seat to move and tilt forward for rear entry.  The amount of room in the rear passenger compartment is just enough to hold two small buddies for a quick ride.  However, the high roofline and boxy design creates a lot of headroom for both front and rear passengers.  Behind this is a small luggage compartment that is deep enough to hold small items.  There is also a cover for this area to hide your belongings from view. 

We did not like the feeling of the R32 headliner in the cabin, touch it and you might feel that scratchy feeling that makes you twinge as if someone has scratched their nails on a board, we suggest Microfiber or Alcantera which would  be more fitting for this modified car.  The leather used inside did not feel or look of high quality.  It was fitted tight, making for a smooth and slippery seat.  In the rear passenger compartment, the large rear windows do not open, and it can get a bit claustrophobic in the back with those large seats right in front of you.  It would be nice if those windows could roll down.  At high speeds, we also found a bit too much wind noise entering the cabin from the front pillars and the high level of engine sound can get bothersome on long trips. 

            Another difference between the R32 and a standard Golf is the sport steering wheel. This has to be one of the thickest sport wheels we have ever seen.  Its just has a massive diameter on top and on the bottom with wide grip areas probably double the size of a normal steering wheel.  Some will like it a lot and others will think itís a bit overdone as in the seats.

            The functionality of the interior is very good. The radio controls are easy to understand and use, as are the temperature controls.  The only fault we could find would be to raise the temperature control area a bit higher.  We liked the blue colored lighting on the instrumentation clusters.  It was a fresh change from green and red found in other cars.  The Monsoon sound system with 8-speakers was just great.  We liked the integrated CD player and cassette deck as one unit.  There is an optional 6-disc CD changer available, but we found that using an Apple IPOD with FM transmitter beats anything else hands down.  There is no need to get CD changers anymore once you experience the joy of having your entire music library in the palm of your hands.

The hot hatchback is back from Volkswagen.  Does anything else compare to the R32?  Well nothing is exactly in the body style of the R32 so if that is your main concern the decision is easy.  When looking at price, you can buy a whole range of other cars for around the same price with similar horsepower and more room.  Assuming that the local VW dealer will get very few of these cars and that they will sell at MSRP and not at the low $26,000 invoice price, you can choose a G35 from Infiniti for more horsepower and more interior room.  The Mazda RX-8, the Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution are also close in price with loads of horsepower for the money.  Take a look at our comparison chart below for more information

The Volkswagen R32 is suited for a niche market.  The extreme nature of the ride and handling make us believe it would fit well with the younger twenty-something crowd, however many owners in USA are around the age of 30.  We found that many teenagers absolutely love this car.  The exterior look, with its low profile aero package really makes the R32 stick out on the road.  Owners of the Golf, especially in Europe, routinely buy a standard Golf and tune everything:  engine, suspension, aerodynamics and the interior.  Volkswagen looked at this and in particular, the growing tuner market in the US, and offered the R32 as a factory tuned vehicle.  Right out-of-box, the buyer gets what so many in the past have spent countless hours - and money - doing.  The R32 should meet the demands of this market segment very well.  We saw it first hand, from the looks and smiles that this car got.  The market will be small, but for those who grew up with the Golf, this will be a dream come true.

 For a pdf file brochure on the R32 click here.


Base Pricing 26,490 29,100
Destination 575 575
Emission Equipment, California/Northeast 150 150
Leather Pkg
Includes Leather Surfaced Seat Trim
839 950


  2004 Infiniti G35
Rwd 2dr Coupe w/Leather (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
2004 Mazda RX-8
4dr Coupe (1.3L 2rtr 6M)
2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STi
AWD 4dr Sedan w/Silver-Painted Wheels (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
2004 Dodge Neon SRT-4
4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl Turbo 5M)
2004 Volkswagen R32
2dr Hatchback (3.2L 6cyl 6M)
MSRP $31,800 $26,680 $31,120 $20,450 $29,100
Invoice $29,250 $24,659 $28,695 $18,970 $26,490
Basic 4 yr. / 60000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi.
Base Engine Displacement 3.5 liters 1.3 liters 2.5 liters 2.4 liters 3.2 liters
Horsepower 280 hp @ 6200 rpm 238 hp @ 8500 rpm 300 hp @ 6000 rpm 230 hp @ 5300 rpm 240 hp @ 6250 rpm
Torque 270 ft-lbs. @ 4800 rpm 159 ft-lbs. @ 5500 rpm 300 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm 250 ft-lbs. @ 2200 rpm 236 ft-lbs. @ 2800 rpm
Tires P235/50VR17
all season
Wheels alloy rims
17 x 8.0 in.
alloy rims
18 x 8 in.
alloy rims
17 x 7.5 in.
alloy rims
17 x 6 in.
alloy rims
18 x 7.5 in.
Xenon Headlights Standard Optional Standard Not Available Not Available
Turning Circle 37.4 ft.   35.4 ft. 41 ft. 35.8 ft.
City 18 mpg. 18 mpg. 18 mpg. 22 mpg. 19 mpg.
Highway 26 mpg. 24 mpg. 24 mpg. 30 mpg. 26 mpg.
Length 182.2 in. 174.3 in. 173.8 in. 174.4 in. 164.4 in.
Width 71.5 in. 69.7 in. 68.5 in. 67.4 in. 68.3 in.
Height 54.8 in. 52.8 in. 56.3 in. 56 in. 56.1 in.
Weight 3422 lbs.   3263 lbs. 2900 lbs. 3409 lbs.
Wheel Base 112.2 in. 106.4 in. 100 in. 105 in. 99.1 in.
Ground Clearance 6.3 in. 5.3 in. 5.7 in. 6.1 in. 4.2 in.
Front Headroom 39.2 in. 38.2 in. 38.6 in. 38.4 in. 37.4 in.
Rear Headroom 34.7 in. 36.8 in. 36.7 in. 36.7 in. 36.5 in.
Front Shoulder Room 53.7 in. 54.8 in. 52.7 in. 53.4 in. 53.7 in.
Rear Shoulder Room 52.7 in. 53.2 in. 52.9 in. 52.8 in. 52.7 in.
Front Leg Room 43.8 in. 42.7 in. 42.9 in. 42.2 in. 41.5 in.
Rear Leg Room 31.4 in. 32.3 in. 33 in. 34.8 in. 33.5 in.
Maximum Luggage Capacity 7.8 cu.ft. 7.6 cu.ft. 11 cu.ft. 13.1 cu.ft. 14 cu.ft.


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