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R32: The Ultimate Golf

Tue, 03 Dec 2002
Twenty five years ago the first VW Golf GTi caused a sensation. It had a 112ps fuel-injected 1.6 litre engine and a four-speed gearbox. Compared to any other small hatchback, it went like a bat out of hell.

Now. Like the beautiful girl you married, the Golf has grown a bit. To be blunt, the Mk IV R32 is nearly twice the weight of the Mk1 GTi. But to make up for that, with 240bhp, it has more than twice the power. And, with six in the box, half as many more gears to play with.

You sit in fantastic grey suede Recaro seats. The pedals and dash trim looks like polished stainless steel. You already feel you’re somewhere special before you turn the key and the sound effects start. The engine whoops at you with beautiful bass sort of growl that sounds like it was tuned by a composer rather than an engineer. Believe me, even Ferrari can learn something from the exhaust note of the R32.

The next thing to do is find a road with some nice bends in it. Okay, it isn’t a Mitsubishi EVO VII or a Subaru Impreza WRX STI. But this thing still shifts far more quickly than any factory Golf ever did before. Turn-in to a corner at 90mph plus, keep that pedal where it should be and you can really frighten yourself, never mind your passenger. But if it all gets too much, the four wheel drive system looks after you and as long as you don’t go completely crazy you’re never in any danger of finding out what happens if you hit a tree at 90mph.

Getting real, not many of us are actually going to drive the R32 like this, are we? But it won’t matter. All you have to do is blip the throttle a few times and everyone will know what you’ve got under your bonnet. Though what they might think you’ve got under your trousers is another matter.

VW Golf R32: 240bhp; 236lb ft torque; 5-speed gearbox; four wheel drive. 0-60 6.3 seconds. Top speed 153mph. Combined consumption 24.6mpg. CO2 output 276g/km. 3-doors £22,340; 5-doors £22,960

More at www.Volkswagen.co.uk

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