Volkswagen Golf R32 (DSG) 5 Door Review
Ridiculously, Rambunctiously, Resplendently Rapid

Amery Reuben
14 Mar 2007

The Volkswagen Golf R32 is a work of art. The luscious blue paintwork is a work of art. The sound it makes, is a work of art. The way it drives, is a work of art. Even the engine, is a work of art.

The version 5 Volkswagen Golf GTi displays a chassis of incredible potential, and also, it has proven what a front driven conti platform can do in terms of performance.

The latest Golf is in a wildly different league as compared to the saggy Mk4 that had a torsion beam stuck under its backside as suspension linkage. The current model features a fully independent, four-link set-up that has been specifically tailored for (first) the front, then the four-wheel-driven R32.

In a bid to find out how much of an improvement the R32 is over the GTi, we brought this car to the winding, mountain passes of Cameron highlands. The roads there are tricky, comprising of high speed corners of 90-120km/h, as well as tight, cliffhanger corners. In fact, it did remind me of a particular stretch of "touge" in the Fujinomiya prefecture, Japan.


FYI (explanation courtesy of

Touge (Japanese?) word literally meaning "pass." It refers to a mountain pass or any of the narrow, winding roads that can be found in and around the mountains of Japan and other geographically similar areas.


I am a big fan of the 2 litre TFSI engine of the GTi. For one, it has a creamy, lag-free delivery with a heady 200bhp output. Its eagerness to hit the redline distinguishes it as having one of the best compact hatchback engines around.

Until you get into the R32…

This narrow-angle V6 is almost the same 3.2-liter unit that is found in the Mk4 Golf R32, but with nearly 15 horses more. The inlet manifold has been reworked, and the onboard computer retuned. The result might be a little sedate if you look at the figures, but mind you that’s just a paper figure.

Maximum power is now 250bhp at 6,300rpm while torque figure is unchanged at 320nm. That amount of twisting force arrives 300rpm lower down the rev range than before – kicking in as low as 2800rpm.

To be brutally honest, the GTi feels a tad bit asthmatic when doing 0-100km/h acceleration tests. In a launch comparison, the R32 inched ahead of the GTi. The Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) model tested here dispatched a time of 6.5 seconds.

It is still a six-speeder by the way. The GTi only managed a shade under 7 seconds, partially due to the extremely hot weather on the day of the test.

Once over the 100km/h mark however, the small gap in the century dash becomes more of a large gorge in the Grand Canyon. The acceleration of the R32 is relentless, and while it might not be as quick as a BMW M6 or a Gallardo, it is fast enough.

Take for instance, that it had already hit 230km/h by the time the Golf GTi was struggling with 180, and that a BMW M3 we pit our car against wasn’t able to shake it off its back in straight line acceleration tests (it caught up after being left behind while accelerating at lower speeds) AND in corners.

On a deserted stretch of the north-south highway up in Malaysia, the R32 hit a top speed of 250km/h. That felt like the limits of the car, or quite possibly the limiter kicking in. It is a little bit of a struggle getting there though. The R’s relentless acceleration starts to trail off after 230km/h. You’ll see its top speed in about 7-10 seconds from then on.

Such might be the limitations of this hatchback body. But I strongly recommend you seek the help of a brain doctor if you feel the need to go faster than this in a cute little compact.

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