Ex­clu­sive Golf club

The R32 com­bined per­for­mance with lux­ury, writes Gra­ham Smith

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Cars -

VModel watch

W CLAIMS re­spon­si­bil­ity for the hot hatch, which is a fair boast when you re­mem­ber that the Golf GTi kick-started the move­ment in the 1970s.

The R32 was VW’s at­tempt to build the ul­ti­mate lux­ury hot hatch, one that would of­fer a dif­fer­ent, but still ex­hil­a­rat­ing driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to the pace­set­ting GTi. THOUGH the tur­bocharged fron­twheel-drive GTi re­tains pole po­si­tion in the class, and delivers the per­for­mance petrol­heads lust af­ter, the R32 is a more re­fined driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Badges aside, there were few clues to iden­tify an R32 from a dis­tance. VW, how­ever, was of the view the alu­minium-look grille, ex­tra air in­takes in the front bumper, and twin pol­ished stain­less-steel ex­haust out­lets were enough to make it stand out.

If the skin was lit­tle dif­fer­ent from the rest of the range, what lay un­der the skin was quite a dif­fer­ent story. The en­gine was a 3.2-litre V6 that put out 184kW at 6300 revs along with 310Nm be­tween 2500 and 3000 revs. To put that into con­text a tur­bocharged GTi had 147kW and 280Nm.

The R32 also dif­fered in the drive it em­ployed.

Though the GTi was con­ven­tional front-wheel drive, the R32 used VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive sys­tem. VW also re­set the sus­pen­sion to cope with the ex­tra zip of the R32, which sat lower than a GTi, had up­rated springs and shocks, and rolled on larger, 18-inch, al­loy wheels.

In line with VW’s pitch that the R32 was a lux­ury sedan it came with au­to­matic air­con­di­tion­ing, leather seats, rain-sens­ing wipers and bixenon head­lamps.

On the lot

TO DRIVE away in VW’s up­mar­ket sports hatch you’ll need to spend $35,000-$42,000.

In the shop

VW BUILD qual­ity is of a high stan­dard with good fit and fin­ish.

Few is­sues con­cern R32 own­ers. The car’s me­chan­i­cal pack­age is well proven, in­clud­ing the 4Motion drive sys­tem.

The main is­sue that sur­faces on this, and most other Euro cars, is brake wear on discs and pads.

Own­ers can get quite a shock when pre­sented with a bill that is usu­ally quite sub­stan­tial, and of­ten at quite low kilo­me­tres. Ser­vic­ing is im­por­tant so check for a cred­i­ble ser­vice record that con­firms reg­u­lar oil and fil­ter changes.

On the road

THE R32 faced a bat­tle to con­vince buy­ers to spend the ex­tra over a GTi when the GTi was such a great car.

That wasn’t to sug­gest that the R32 couldn’t hold its own on the road; it could do the 0-100km/h sprint in 6.5 sec­onds. But be­ing lux­ury-fo­cused the R32 did the job with lit­tle fuss; it was smooth, re­fined and com­fort­able.

In a crash

THE R32’s safety rep­u­ta­tion was backed by plenty of safety gear with front, side and cur­tain airbags for the ul­ti­mate pro­tec­tion. There was elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, anti-skid brakes,

trac­tion con­trol and elec­tronic diff lock to stave off trou­ble at the wheel.

At the pump

AS WITH all per­for­mance cars the fuel con­sump­tion of the R32 is highly de­pen­dent on the way it’s driven.

Road testers tend to be rather heavy on the throt­tle, and with that in mind, at the time of the R32’s launch, re­ported av­er­age fuel con-

sump­tion was 11.5-12.5 litres/100km.

The bot­tom line

GREAT hatch, but why bother when the GTi delivers more thrill for less money.

Cus­tomised club: VW­saw its R32 as a lux­u­ri­ous al­ter­na­tive to the high-per­for­mance GTi. An al­loy­look grille and twin stain­less-steel ex­hausts marked it vis­ually, and in­side there were leather seats and auto air­con­di­tion­ing.

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