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Volkswagen Golf R32 (copyright image)

Top of the line
amongst the fifth generation
Volkswagen Golfs is the sporty R32.

ROAD TEST:   Volkswagen Golf R32

by Stephen Walker

18th February, 2009

Home > Road Tests > Volkswagen

The highly admired 5th generation Volkswagen Golf provides a wide variety of models. Top of the line is the R32, a very sporty number which features a six cylinder engine and all-wheel drive.

It's this model that we drive on this occasion. The 3 door test car was fitted with the delightful 6 speed manual transmission. Our drive programme took in 946 kms around Melbourne and environs.

Power for the Golf R32 comes from a transversely front mounted 3.2 litre V6. There is no need to worry if there is sufficient power provided, because there certainly is plenty of power! In fact, the right foot has up to 184 kW standing by just waiting to go. The torque rating is a very handy 320 Nm. With this much get up and go available, it is just as well that the superb VW 4MOTION all-wheel drive system is standard. This drivetrain ensures traction is amongst the best.


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Economy isn't a big issue for sports car drivers, but the Golf R32 has a tendency to surprise. Volkswagen claim a consumption of 10.8 litres/100 kilometres (on the combined cycle), which is quite reasonable for a car of this 'nature'. Yet we managed to beat that figure by just a little. During our week with the car, we returned a usage figure of 10.5 litres per 100 kms. The DSG automatic version uses less fuel. Premium unleaded petrol is the fuel of choice for the sporty R32. CO2 emissions for the Golf R32 manual are somewhat high at 259 grammes per kilometre.

The current price (RRP) for the Volkswagen Golf R32 is from $55,490. The test car was fitted with optional "Recaro" sports bucket seats upfront which adds a big $4,000 to the base price. The seats are very comfortable for someone about my size, but not so good for those with a large frame.

Commendable options include the award winning DSG automatic transmission ($2,500) and satellite navigation ($2,500).


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Standard equipment is comprehensive and includes such items as four airbags with Recaro seat equipped R32s (six airbags with the standard seats), electronic stabilisation programme (ESP), engine immobiliser, remote central locking with deadlock mechanism, the very handy automatic door locking upon take-off feature, a 3 year warranty (or 100,000 kms) with roadside assistance, power windows (auto up and down), adjustable steering wheel (rake and reach), dual zone air conditioning, driver's footrest, trip computer, steering wheel controls for audio, electrically heated and adjustable exterior mirrors, auto dimming internal exterior rear view mirror, radio with 6 disc in-dash CD player with 10 speakers (MP3 compatible), luggage compartment cover, lowered suspension, power steering, cruise control, bi-xenon headlights, 18" alloy wheels (with anti-theft wheel bolts) and much more. And, yes, cup holders are included in the purposeful front console.

The interior is quite a comfortable environment to spend time. The design demonstrates that careful consideration was given to where each component should be positioned. That being the case, it is evident that the user-friendly presentation of the interior makes for a 'just right' feel to provide comfort for all occupants.

Volkswagen Golf R32 (copyright image)

Next Car's Editor, Stephen Walker,
with the "Deep Blue Pearl Effect"
Volkswagen Golf R32

On the road, the VW Golf R32 impresses with plenty of power, superb traction, comfortable ride and excellent driving dynamics. The clutch is relatively light and the manual gear change is nice and easy. Having said that, the optional DSG automatic is even better and it impresses everyone who drives it. But it adds $2,500 to the price. If you enjoy exhaust notes, then the R32 provides audible pleasure when the revs are beyond 3,000 rpm.

The VW Golf R32 looks good, especially in the R-exclusive "Deep Blue" and it has reasonable luggage capacity for a small car. Build quality is very good and the fittings are of a similar standard.

And what about misgivings? There is just one inconvenient aspect of the Golf R32 when the Ricaro sports seats are fitted. Unfortunately, the massive side bolsters on these optional front seats restrict the collapsible angle to which the seats fold forward. Hence, they really only fold part the way forward, thus severely restricting the available space for a rear seat passenger to climb in.

Summing up a drive in the well equipped Volkswagen Golf R32 is an exceptionally easy task. This is one car that is such a delight to drive. Every kilometre is a pleasure, but I consider the optional DSG automatic transmission is money well spent, whereas the optional Recaro bucket seats are too restrictive for larger built occupants and far too inconvenient for rear seat passengers to climb over. Having said that, the R32 clearly demonstrates that as a 'drive', it is a pleasure all the way, especially when you take the long way home!

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