The Volkswagen GTI is universally loved around the Automobile Magazine office and that love earned the FTI Automobile of the Year honors for 2007. With the Golf R, the GTI formula is cranked up to 11. Underhood is the familiar 2.0T engine, but it manages to crank out an incredible 270 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque thanks to a maximum boost of 17.4 psi. Sign us up.
Of course all that power would completely overwhelm the front wheels, so Volkswagen gave the Golf R all-wheel drive and a choice of DSG or traditional six-speed manual sits between the engine and awd system. The awd system is more advanced than the one found in the R32 Golf and can send nearly 100 percent of the power to the rear axle if needed. Impressively, the Golf R uses less fuel than the R32 while producing an extra 20 hp and a 0-62-mph time of 5.5 seconds with a DSG transmission.
Visual changes from a standard Golf are minimal, but any VW fan will appreciate the LED marker lights in the unique front bumper, a rear bumper with centered tailpipes, and a side skirt upgrade, and bi-Xenon headlights. Gloss black paint covers the mirrors and grille. Black trim and a smattering of R badges spruce up the interior and race seats are optional equipment.
Electronic upgrades include a more lenient stability control program and an optional dynamic chassis control system that modifies steering for comfort, normal, or sport modes.
Golf Rs will ride about an inch lower than standard Golfs and everything from the spring rates to the stabilizer bars have been modified for the R. Upgraded 13.6-inch discs up front and 12.2-inch in back hide behind 18- or 19-inch rims.
We know the Golf R will go on sale in Germany by the end of the year, but no mention of sales in the U.S. has been made yet. There's a good chance VW will import the R if enough buyers can be found. We know the R32 sold out quickly and that speaks well for this R model's chances in America.