Volkswagen R32
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(continued)

0409_vw_01.jpgStarting at $29,675, the R32 isn't cheap, but it undercuts the base price of both the Evo ($30,574) and STi ($31,670). It doesn't offer four doors as do the Japanese cars, but it also doesn't come with their wild wings and big hood scoops. It is dressed in more subtle ground effects that include assertive front and rear fascias, side skirts, and rear valance and spoiler.

Subtle is the name of the game inside as well, where metal pedals, numerous "R" badges, and coddling König front bucket seats are the only tip-offs. VW is allocating 5000 R32s to the U.S. in 2004. If you haven't ordered one already, best cross your fingers and hope that someone's been dumb enough to cancel.

Vehicle type: front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 3-door coupe
Price as tested: $30,625 (base price: $29,675)
Engine type: DOHC 24-valve V-6, iron block and aluminum head, port fuel injection Displacement: 195 cu in, 3189cc
Power (SAE net): 240 bhp @ 6250 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 236 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual
Wheelbase: 99.1 in
Length/width/height: 164.4/68.3/56.1 in
Curb weight: 3397 lb

Zero to 60 mph: 6.0 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 15.2 sec
Street start, 5-60 mph: 6.8 sec
Standing 1/4-mile: 14.3 sec @ 97 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 128 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 158 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.89 g
EPA fuel economy, city driving: 19 mpg

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