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Revealed: the future of the Volkswagen Golf R

VW insiders shed light on the next chapter of the AWD super-Golf

Published: 11 Mar 2019

One of Volkswagen’s big news stories from the Geneva motor show is the T-Roc R, a small SUV with the same 296bhp, all-wheel-drive mechanicals as a Golf R.

“I believe this car drives better than the Golf R,” VW’s R division boss, Jost Capito, bullishly tells us. Well of course he would; it’s the newer car. But it still surprised us that he’s so certain of it when you’d naturally expect a heavier, taller car to suffer compromise.

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“Of course there’s a higher centre of gravity, but I would say that’s the only difference. The rest of the chassis setup you can do exactly the same.

“We changed the stiffness of the front of the car, we changed all the engine mounts and gearbox mounts, we made them all stiffer… it feels more direct. We had the basis with the Golf R but we modified everything.”

All those tweaks are learnings from Golf R, Capito tells us; things that would have been applied to a new Golf R too, had that arrived before the T-Roc R. So does it all mean we can expect the R treatment on much more stuff? More SUVs, perhaps?

“I think it’s going to be much wider in the line-up,” he says. But still no Polo. “With R you have four-wheel drive, and you don’t have four-wheel drive in the Polo platform. I also think the effort and the money you put in works from the Golf size of car upwards.”

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And what of the Golf R400 concept, which has still yet to make production? “We did research and customers don’t want it. They want around 300 horsepower and a price tag below €50,000. To move up to 400 horsepower you lose 50 per cent of the sales volume and increase the cost of ownership.”

A rare case of a German performance brand actually placing a ceiling on its power outputs, then. Perhaps. Though a chat with Volkswagen board member Jürgen Stackmann revealed the R version of the mk8 Golf will still be pretty potent.

“The crown jewel of performance in a Golf remains Golf R,” he told us. “We don’t want to take hybrids to a ridiculous strength. A hybrid needs to be affordable, and have an ecological reasoning. It’s not just for performance. The GTE is an alternative choice for a GTI customer, and that will remain. The performance king will remain a Golf R, and the Golf 8 R is going to be fantastic.”

Just not 400 horsepower fantastic…

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