Published on April 12th, 2022 | by Amirul Mukminin


The Original Volkswagen Golf R32 Debuted 20 Years Ago

Two decades ago, VW presented the best hot hatch in town and has never looked back since

The zippy Volkswagen Golf R32 is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, so let’s take a look at what makes it the overwhelming favourite among hot hatch fans around the world and how it set the precedent for the Volkswagen Racing lineup.

The original Golf R32 arrived in 2002 as the top dog in the Mk4 Golf range, which was already at the end of its five-year life cycle at the time. It was powered by a 3.2-litre VR6 engine that had a narrow angle between the cylinder banks and a single cylinder head covering both banks of cylinders.

The engine packed 240 hp and 320 Nm of torque, hardly mouth-watering compared to what the current crop of hot hatches offer but enough to send one on the edge of their seat in the early 2000s. But that’s not the only strong suit of the R32.

Apart from a close-ratio six-speed manual, which was limited to 5,000 units in the US, the R32 could also be had with a six-speed DSG in Europe, making it the first production car to be fitted with a dual-clutch transmission. It was linked to a standard 4Motion all-wheel-drive system that sent power to the rear axle as needed. Also making its debut with the R32 was the signature Deep Blue Pearl exterior colour.

Three years after its debut, the R32 nameplate returned with the Mk5 Golf. The VR6 engine was retained but power jumped to 250 hp, which, along with other improvements, allowed the R32 to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.2 seconds with the DSG transmission. The interior was also upgraded, offering noteworthy niceties such as laser etched production number on the steering wheel and optional Recaro seats.

For the sixth-generation Golf, more stringent emissions regulations forced Volkswagen to drop the formidable 3.2-litre V6 engine along with the ‘R32’ moniker. Simply known as the Golf R, it used a reworked version of the 2.0-litre TSI four-cylinder engine employed in the Golf GTI, rated at 256 hp and 350 Nm in the US.

Like the two top-ranging Golfs that came before it, the Mk6 Golf R was equipped with a Haldex 4Motion all-wheel drive system (albeit more advanced) and came in both manual and automatic guises. It was offered in two- or four-door versions, with a new shade of blue called Rising Blue Metallic and dual-exit centre exhaust tips.

The Mk7 Golf R made its debut in 2013 with the new Lapiz Blue Metallic exterior colour, an uprated EA888 engine which now made 288 hp and a host of technological upgrades including the DCC adaptive damping system and launch control. Thanks to these upgrades, the hatch was now capable of completing the century sprint in less than five seconds. It was available with either a six-speed manual or DSG gearbox, which was later upgraded to the seven-speed DSG.

Fast forward to the present day, the Mk8 Golf R arrives in five-door hatchback and Estate body styles. It is the most powerful Golf R to date, packing 315 hp and 420 Nm of torque under the bonnet. This results in a 0-100 km/h sprint time of just 4.7 seconds and top speed of 250 km/h that can be raised to 270 km/h with the available R-Performance package. On top of that, Volkswagen has also added R-Performance Torque Vectoring, which, in essence, enables the car to drift.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Golf R32, Volkswagen is reportedly cooking up a special edition version of the current Golf R with even more power.

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