Volkswagen has decided to amp things up in the hot hatch segment by introducing the Golf R to the U.S. market in early 2012. Pricing has yet to be finalized on the performance-oriented Golf R, which has been available in Europe for more than a year. The U.S. hasn’t seen a high performance, all-wheel drive version of the Volkswagen Golf since 2008 when the R32 was discontinued.
“The decision was made in response to ‘the request of VW enthusiasts,’ who apparently couldn’t live without the highest-performance Golf,” writes Car and Driver. “The Golf R will be offered in three- and five-door configurations, and a true manual gearbox will be the only transmission choice (Europeans can opt for DSG.) The car employs a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, 4Motion all-wheel drive, and receives larger brakes and firmer suspension than the current GTI.”
While the Golf R employs the same size engine as the current Volkswagen GTI, expect a significant bump in horsepower. “Although the engine in the all-wheel-drive Golf R is based on the turbocharged 2-liter engine in the VW GTI, it has more horsepower,” says the New York Times. “The version planned for the United States will put out 256 horsepower, a generous bump over the GTI’s 200.”
The addition of all-wheel drive, along with the bump in power, will likely make the Golf R a serious contender against competitors like the Subaru Impreza WRX and the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart. “While we enjoyed the energetic handling of the GTI Golf, the 200-hp turbo four-cylinder wasn’t the quickest in the segment,” says Cars.com. “The Golf R should correct that problem.”