R-Bearers : VW Golf5 R32 & Golf6 R

Car Specifications
Engine: 
Full Specs below

Cult Car Central revisits the Volkswagen Golf R32 (Mk V) in the company of the Golf6 R
Vital Statistics
Car: VW Golf R32 (Mk V)
Owners: 1
Original Registration: 27 November 2007
Mileage: 35,900km
Revisited: 2nd May 2010

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge images)

Calling any car 'R' or 'R something/anything' typically invites the most intense scrutiny from us know-it-all critics :). Like many of the finer things in life, everybody has a different opinion of what the 'R' quality should be about, but who's to say everyone else is wrong (or for that matter, right)?

Honda boys will wax lyrical about weight savings and frenetic high-revving engines that are mated to highly accomplished chassis. On the Euro end of the spectrum, the 'RS' nomenclature is one that is long familiar to Audi and Porsche enthusiasts.

Despite the little differences, the one thing that remains 'constant' in all these applications: these tags are only found on the most hardcore of performance vehicles that are equally at home on both street and track.

Recently incorporated as VW's tuning division, 'R' intends to go up against the likes of Audi's quattro GmbH, BMW's M and Mercedes-Benz's AMG... well, at least that's the way the story goes, at any rate. (full release HERE)

VW's new venture has given birth to two cars, the Scirocco R and the Golf R (and a rather snazzy promotional video of the 2 cars that you can view HERE).

Of course, a pedas (for our non-native readers, Pedas = 'Spicy' in Malay) Golf is not a new concept, since there has been a hotter variant (over and above the regular GTI) of everybody's favourite hatchback since the 1980s, with the Rallye during the Mk II era, the VR6 of the Mk IIIs, the first R32 (Mk IV), the most recent R32 (Mk V) and this generation's simply named 'R'.

Being huge fans of cult-cars, we figured this feature wouldn't be complete without the R's most recent predecessor, since the Mk VI R represents a departure from a naturally-aspirated V6 (which lasted 3 generations) to the turbocharged 2L 4-cylinder engine that we're all familiar with.

Fans and owners of the narrow-angled V6 (2.8L in the Golf and 2.9L in the Corrado VR6) engine that saw service in the Golf3 VR6 will recall the  soulful howl that was a distinctive trademark of a full-bore drive-by. In the Mk V R32, the V6 note was transformed into a heady snarl as it took on a harder edge under full-throttle acceleration.

The best part was, this never resulted in an intrusive drone inside the cabin (pointing to VW's meticulous tuning work), which was a double-edged sword; although one didn't have to put up with an interminable drone on longer journeys, it also meant that R32 occupants never got to enjoy the lovely music of the V6.

However, I'll tell you who did get to enjoy the angry snarl of the V6... boorish tail-gaters and taxi-drivers who were attracted like bugs to the electric blue hue that many of the R32s were purchased in.

Under hard acceleration, the V6 in the R32 is as creamy smooth and linear in delivery as we remembered it to be. At the time, we were rather skeptical of the 'prism' effect cabin trim, but this seems to have stood the test of time rather well... i.e. it hasn't started to look dated yet despite its age.

In the corners, the V6's linear characteristics allow one to get on the power confidently, without the fear of an additional surge kicking in when the turbo spools up. However, the chassis of the R32 is beginning to feel its age, particularly when driven back to back with the newer R. Even with the V6's progressive power delivery, the chassis of the Golf5 isn't as well-sorted as we'd prefer.

On the other hand, despite the point-wait-squirt nature of the turbo'd 2L (by the way, the base engine of the R is the Golf5 GTI's lump - albeit heavily reinforced for extra strength - not the newer one found in the Golf6 GTI), the chassis was sorted enough to competently handle the R's rambunctious nature. The aspect of the Golf6 GTI that we enjoyed so much is its drama-free yet accomplished chassis.

Of course, some people rightly (or wrongly) feel that the Golf5 GTI had a more hardcore nature by virtue of the fact that there was always plenty of squealing and chirruping going on from the tyres, even on a stock car.

Although the local Golf R has been detuned to 256bhp (from 270bhp), it still packs a potent punch once the turbo spools up. In the 0-100km/h sprint stakes, the R is a full 0.5 seconds quicker (even in de-tuned guise) than the R32, but we all know there's more to life than just straight-line sprints.

Despite the R's luscious lacqured black accents on the front grille and rear under-spoiler, the R32 cuts an equally distinctive figure with its striking aluminium accents. However, it was the R that had a continual stream of interested parties who felt the need to really come close up its behind to get a better look... lol

Swift Sports, S-GTs and other random hatchbacks really seemed to get a kick out of following up the behind of the R. Other Golf drivers (mostly Golf5 GTIs) kept a more 'respectful' distance despite their great and obvious interest in the car.

Inside the R32, the combination of sight and sounds never made one doubt the car's lofty position in the Golf hierarchy.

The 'R' banner emblem that was adopted for the Golf4 and Golf5 R32s could be found emblazoned on the passenger side dash fascia, front grille and even pedals (the R has pretty standard aluminium pedals also found in the GTI).

DCC (Dynamic Chassis Control) switch
In the R, we can never quite shake-off the feeling that we're inside a tarted up and very well-sorted GTI, even (or rather, especially) when we're on the go.

The 'R' chequered banner from the R32 has been replaced by a new 'R'... simple yet effective in communicating a Race image, although some were expecting a little more above and beyond a GTI from this range-topping Golf.

Although the R is equipped with DCC (Dynamic Chassic Control), we left the settings in Sport for the most part... just cos we liked it that way. Rear occupants did complain about the firm ride quality in the back though, but what-the-hey, those were of secondary concern to our enjoyment of the car!

Both the R32 and R come in 4MOTION (4WD) guise, which meant that come rain or shine, wet roads or dry, grip levels and confidence are typically at an all-time high.

Push the cars harder and one quickly discovers that although the R32 seems a tad more nose-heavy than the R, its poise is better modulated with the throttle, especially given the V6's tractable nature; when executed well, this gives rise to an altogether smoother sense of progress and 'finesse'.

With the R's turbo punch and grip levels, it's actually much easier to manhandle the R around versus its fwd GTI sibling. As mentioned before, the new chassis is very competent and there's none of the flex that accosts the Mk5 R32 under hard driving.

When it comes to stopping prowess, the brakes on the R strongly and convincingly stamp their authority. Gloss black callipers clamp down hard on ventilated brake discs (345mm front, 310mm rear) to deliver a heart-in-mouth experience when the 'stop' pedal is stamped on.

The pedal on the R proved to be far easier to modulate than the R32 (blue callipers under the forged Volk Racing rims).

Like the R32, the R has a snazzy set of instruments to help differentiate it from its lesser Golf siblings. In the R32, the needles are blue-tipped (Blue used to be the corporate colour for the R32s) whereas in the R, the needles are completely Blue. In our opinion, both look just as cool.

Other nice bits include the chunky steering wheels, which prove to be a satisfying handful to twirl and whirl when the going gets fast. In both cars, the multi-function steering wheels boast a 'flat-bottomed' design, in a nod to their racing pedigree.

Although it's less relevant in a road going car, flat-bottomed steering wheels take their cue from racing cars. In cramped race cockpits, where in some cases, lock to lock could be less than 1, the flat-bottom design was adopted to prevent the steering wheels from rubbing against the driver's thighs, since the rounded-end would almost never come full circle.

In 5-door guise, both R32 and R are eminently practical yet effortlessly fast cars. We can't help but wonder what the R would feel like with the full impact of 270bhp and 350Nm, since there's no doubt the chassis can handle much more than Singapore's de-tuned output.

At the moment, inasmuch as the sprint time weighs heavily in favour of the R (0.5 seconds is an eternity in sprint stakes), the R32 is the one that sounds most impressive getting to the 100km/h mark. Depending on the amount of throttle opening, there are so many nuances to its tone that transcend the best efforts of a sonorous turbo'd 4-pot.

To a person who values tuning potential, the turbo'd 2L would make a lot of sense due to the multitude of available parts for that engine. Coupled to the Golf6's chassis and the sure-footedness of 4MOTION, there's no question in freeing up at least another 50bhp (on top of the local car's standard 256bhp), which we're pretty sure the car can cope with.

Moreover, the cheaper road tax (versus the previous R32) should mean plenty of extra dosh for mod parts every year!

However, if you get your kicks from naturally-aspirated engines, there are a good number of used R32s in the market (ranging from 2-4 years old) that could represent a cheap fix for your thrills.

This isn't as strange as it sounds, since firstly, not everybody gets their kicks from the latest release and to some people, a well-tuned NA engine represents the pinnacle in engine tuning technology available from any brand, since forced induction is sometimes regarded as an 'easy' way of ekeing out more power and torque.

Fast Facts
VW Golf R (Mk VI)                                                                        Golf R32 (Mk V)
ENGINE
CAPACITY : 1984cc (EA113)                                                         3189cc
CYLINDER LAYOUT : 4-cylinder in-line, turbocharged                   V6. Naturally Aspirated
VALVES : 16-valves                                                                      32-valves
BORE X STROKE : 82.5 x 92.8 mm                                                84.0 x 95.9 mm
COMPRESSION RATIO : 9.8 : 1                                                     10.9 : 1
MAXIMUM POWER : 256bhp at 6000 rpm (vs 270bhp)                 250bhp at 6300rpm
MAXIMUM TORQUE : 330Nm at 2400-5200 rpm (vs 350Nm)         320Nm at 2500-3000rpm

TRANSMISSION
TYPE : 6-Speed DSG                                                                     6-Speed DSG
DRIVEN WHEELS : 4MOTION (AWD)                                             4MOTION (AWD)

PERFORMANCE
TOP SPEED : 250 km/h (electronically limited)                              250km/h (electronically limited)
0-100KM/H : 5.7 seconds                                                              6.2 seconds

SUSPENSION
FRONT : McPherson struts with lower wishbones, anti-roll bar
REAR : four-link suspension with separate spring/shock absorber arrangement, anti-roll bar

BRAKES
FRONT : 345mm internally ventilated discs
REAR : 310mm internally ventilated discs

TYRES
TYPE : Dunlop
SIZE : 225/40 R 18

SAFETY
AIRBAGS :
TRACTION CONTROL : ESP

MEASUREMENTS
LENGTH : 4212mm                                                                         4246mm
WIDTH : 1779mm                                                                           1759mm
HEIGHT : 1461mm                                                                          1465mm
WHEELBASE : 2578mm                                                                   2578mm
KERB WEIGHT : 1466kg                                                                  1510kg
TURNING CIRCLE : 10.9m                                                                10.9m

photos by mp

Summary
Both cars are effortless to drive fast and practical enough to pack in the family. DSG has certainly revolutionised the way we (even hardcore enthusiasts) perceive 'automatic' sports cars. The R is hard-edged, but even though we're only able to sample it in this detuned stage, it's far from hardcore, but that's just our interpretation of 'R'. What's yours? After spending a little more time with the R32, we realise that this was an unsung hero during its time and with the passing of the 3.2L V6, this could well be a 'classic' in its own right - mp
Photos: 
DCC (Dynamic Chassis Control) switch
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