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MyerShift

2008 Volkswagen Golf R32

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Test Drive of the 2008 Volkswagen Golf R32

Today in Ft. Wayne, Indiana at Vorderman Volkswagen I had an appointment to replace the signal repeater in the driver's side mirror and a cargo cover string support in the hatch.

Of the three R32's on the lot, one had frequently been in the showroom but was today outside. At the vocalised nudging from my girlfriend (Heather) I requested a drive to which "my" salesman promptly approved. He got the plate, a copy of my identification, fired it up, and moved it away from the building. Even at idle oh what a sound the exhaust makes!

It was that special R32 blue colour and number 36 of 5000 according to the plaque adorning the bottom spoke of the steering wheel.

Settling into the cockpit and adjusting the tilt/rake steering column and seat height and recline involved the usual simple, logical, and solid feeling Volkswagen switchgear and materials.

The steering wheel itself seems to be from the automotive gods! Flat bottomed, fat in all the right ways, and wrapped in supple and gorgeously stitched leather it also features redundant audio controls and vehicle computer functions to switch between settings such as average fuel economy (I saw an average of 24.5 miles per gallon at 70 mph), distance to empty, compass and temperature, and others.

The audio system is one of Volkswagen's usual great sounding affairs with CD/MP3/MP3 player capabilities and 6-disc CD changer with a logical layout, a radio information display, speed compensating volume, maximum start-up volume, and other settings.

Did you know you can set in the system what the maximum allowed speed on the road travelled is? If you exceed it, a visual and audible warning is made.

The seats are heavily and fantastically bolstered and fit my "impossibly" thin frame to hold me in place beautifully. The leather felt durable, soft, and of course luxurious.

The car featured dual-zone automatic climate control and heated seats. All of which worked wonderfully.

I didn't particularly care for the aluminum trim in the cabin, but it is effective and sporty.

Interior illumination is a unique blend of Volkswagen's indigo blue, red, and white numeraled gauges featuring blue needles. Very unique and attractive!

The cabin is finished in all black, but I loved that aspect.

There was also a sunroof with a tilt and slide feature, but I could do without that myself.

After oggling the interior and getting familiarised with the minor differences between this exotic hatch and my basic Golf (Rabbit) 2.5; I pulled out of the lot and to Washingston Center Road. Upon heading south onto Lima Road to the onramp of Interstate 69 South, I opened the throttle and was astonished.

The twin clutch DSG gearbox does reel off shifts impressively quickly and smoothly but the most incredible thing I felt was not the exhilarating acceleration but the SOUND.

Volkswagen's narrow angle 3.2 litre 250 horse V6 has the most impressive sound and a gloriously rorty and noticeable exhaust note with every dip of the throttle and every twitch of the tach. If someone is outside, there is no way one could escape unnoticed when passing by in this grand touring hot hatch. It is the absolute most impressive stock exhaust note that I have ever heard. It's enough to give you goosebumps.

The DSG gearbox is most obviously a manual in certain low speed conditions as the computers modulate the clutch and from take off, there is a slight lag that induces the driver to press further upon the accelerator and then when the clutch is fully engaged, the car races forward in a manner not intended. And of course in the sounds of the engine as the gearbox shifts. Overall, the transmission works wonderfully and dutifully obeys paddle shift or Tiptronic lever commands unless of course it would involve stalling the engine.

Under full throttle and in automatic mode, the gearbox runs the engine around 500 RPM beyond redline before upshifting which is exciting and impressive!

I myself would probably still prefer a conventional six speed manual gearbox for ultimate involvement and control if sacrificing some acceleration time and ultimate smoothness. I am probably in the minority here however.

For most people, the DSG will be acceptable and as impressive as the technological marvel that it is.

Coupled with the Haldex 4motion all wheel drive system and DSG the VR6 simply hurls this attractive hatch in the rowdiest AND most polite manner possible down the road and through twisties.

A buck twenty shows up all too quickly and one must stand on the exceptionally powerful four wheel disc brakes to avoid license endangerment after the need to experience this Deutche treat as it was meant to. The chassis in composed, quiet, and unflappable with excellent damping.

Under speed, the cabin is quieter (save for that sonorous VR6) and feels tighter in the R32 than in the more basic spec Golf.

Overall, I came away exceptionally impressed and find this car worth the outlay versus its more expensive Audi TT siblings.

I was afraid that after spending time in an R32 that my 170 horsepower Golf 2.5 would feel like a dud but this was not the case. My car still felt lively, zippy, and fun.

The Golf R32 is fast, fun, refined, safe, practical, comfortable, and impressive in essentially all areas.

Unfortunately, there is no manual transmission available, and some people could never justify the cost of this top line Golf not only because it's a Volkswagen, but also because being in America, most people don't understand the concept of a premium hatch.

My Verdict?

The Volkswagen Golf R32 is the ultimate expression of a Grand Touring hatch.

bravo!

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I can almost hear it based on your account, good job, Mr. Shift. Yes, an awesome car. I understand there won't be a Mk VI R32, at least here in the states, but instead VW will send us 3 versions of the GTI, including a "GTD".
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awesome writeup.

i think the R32 is way too spendy, and un-needed with the GTI, but it does compete with the Evos, etc.

it is an awesome ride.

I would prefer a stick in that car. My only DSG drive was a TDI, but the DSG weirded me out. Maybe i need to sample another.

VW builds satisfying cars. If they convince the public the quality is there in the future, they can be unbeatable.

What mpg is your rabbit getting nowadays? the FE of the 5 cylinder gave me major pause on that car.

Edited by regfootball
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awesome writeup.

What mpg is your rabbit getting nowadays? the FE of the 5 cylinder gave me major pause on that car.

Thank you.

My Rabbit 2.5 is now averaging around 27 miles per gallon with my heavy foot.

Usual tank range is 315-390 miles with 427 being the best yet with an average of 31 mpg.

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An awesome Winding Road film of the R32... lots of sound

Oh God yes that's the sound! It really does sound fantastic.

It sounds exotic. Pure and simple to me.

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