Rowan Horncastle16 April 2014

This is a 395bhp Volkswagen Golf

VW's R400 hints at a hot hatch that makes Merc’s A45 AMG look underpowered

We thought that the new sub-five-second-to-sixty Golf R, with its 296bhp, was getting close to the limits of a turbo 2.0-litre four cylinder.

But according to the folks at Wolfsburg, that TSI unit has more to give, at least according to the 395bhp Golf R400 that’s set to be unveiled at next week’s Beijing Auto Show.

It uses the same turbo four as the Golf R, but with output boosted to just a fraction under 200bhp per litre. The Bugatti Veyron’s 8.0-litre W16 manages a mere 125bhp of go-per-litre.

Officially the R400 is a concept for now, but VW explicitly states that its bonkers output is ‘plausible’ – which is industry-speak for ‘a done deal’.

Want some numbers? How about 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 174mph? IN A GOLF. That 395bhp is fed through the same six-speed dual-clutch transmission, four-wheel drive system and suspension set-up as the new Golf R, a car we felt was able to handle added oomph.

Visually, the R400 takes inspiration from VW’s 1988 Rallye Golf G60 homologation special. The arches have been flared by an extra 20mm on each side to accommodate bigger 19-inch wheels and vanes to feed cool air onto the brakes.

Additional aerodynamic appendages have also sprouted, including a front wing, motorsport-inspired diffuser and not one, but two rear wings. There are also bigger, dual exhaust pipes (a throwback to the original R32) and yellow mascara around the headlights to differentiate the R400 from lesser Golfs. By which we mean all the Golfs.

On the inside there is, as you would expect, much carbon and Alcantara, plus deep-dish sporty seats to pin you in place.

But the big question is whether that engine is, to use VW’s own term, ‘feasible’. We suspect so. Merc’s A45 AMG makes a monstrous 355bhp from a 2.0-litre four, and never when driving it do you suspect it’s on the verge of grenading itself. 395bhp, we reckon, is well within VW’s grasp.

We’ll see R400 in non-sketch form this weekend. So, hot hatch fans: put on some oven gloves, as hot hatches could soon be getting a whole lot hotter. Excited? 

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