VR6's and other car stuff
the '98 GTI-VR6 has finally been supplanted by a new car.
|Here's a quick history of the R32 in the US and mine in
particular. Mid 2002, VW announced the Golf R32 in Europe and stated there
were no plans to bring it to the US. A group of US journalists were invited to
Germany to test drive the also newly announced VW Touareg SUV about that time, and when
they asked boardmember Dr. Bernd Pischetsrider about the R32, he picked up the phone and
had one brought out to play with. Following enthusiastic test drives by the
journalists, a large poll was started on VWVortex to
get a feel for what the US enthusiasts would be willing to pay for such a car. They
settled on a $30k pricepoint which makes puts it in pretty heady company in terms of
performance and near luxury cars. Funny thing is, that in most of the rest of
the world they pay the equivalent of $35k to$45k USD for this car, and US buyers
still complain that $30k is too much. *sigh* The US buying public has
had a hard time seeing a hatchback as anything other than well.. a Honda Civic.
Initially VW had planned to manufacture only 5000 R32s worldwide, and with the plans for the US firming up we expected to see only about 1700-2000 of them here. But by late 2002 the R32 was selling like hotcakes in Europe and inside of 2-3 months they'd pretty much sold out the entire first run of 5000. Rumors ran rampant then that we weren't going to get it in the US at all or that it'd only be offered with a DSG tranny (type of automatic shifting manual tranny) and so forth. January 2003, VWoA announced that it was coming, and would arrive late summer 2003 as they embarked on the effort to certify the car for the US market (means crash testing, revised bumpers, lights etc..). In the end they realized the only way they were going to get a return on their investment at their *low* $30k pricepoint, so they decided to make 5000 of em just for the US market. They didn't start production until late 2003, and the first ones rolled off the boat into US ports in December 2003, and the first one was on sale on a dealer lot at the end of January 2004. I had put a deposit down on mine at a local dealer (with a guarantee of paying no more than sticker price) way back in January of 2003, and finally took delivery mid February 2004.
|You may be asking at this point. So what? There's
plenty of all wheel drive cars out there from Audi, BMW, Subaru, Mitsubishi etc.
End of 2003 Mitsubishi and Subaru brought their rally inspired
big boys to the US. Mitsu EVO 8 with 270hp (*wink* *wink*) and Subbie WRX Sti 300 hp
all wheel drive.. 4 doors. But stripped to the bone. They're
street legal race cars. The STi doesn't even come with a radio, stock.
They both have huge functional spoilers on the back and look every bit the part of
race cars. Not low profile at all. The R32 however is
unique in the US. It's the only all wheel drive hatchback. It's the
highest horsepower hatchback. The interior is fully loaded. The
enthusiast crowd recognizes it instantly, while the rest of the public and Johnny law
still see it as an just another econobox. Perfect for me. It has 2
doors and seating for 4. A hatchback or wagon has always been my favorite in
Looks great, goes fast, stops fast, turns hard, hauls all my
crap, and will carry me in comfort across the western states on my annual travels.
I had bought and paid for this car, before I'd even laid eyes on an R32 in person. I knew I wanted one the first time I saw a photo of it, and heard the specs. I have not been disappointed. This car makes more torque at 3000 rpms than my supercharged GTI-VR6 does at 6000 rpms. The GTI might still have the edge at the top end, but the R32 will leave it for dead launching from a stand still. The R32 pulls through hairpin turns in 3rd or 4th gear that other cars have to downshift to 1st for. It's supremely easy to drive fast on a twisty road. It inspires great confidence and has no bad habits as far as I can tell. It'll pull straight up the mountains west of Denver with 3 passengers in 6th gear without breaking a sweat. And I haven't even modified the engine.. yet.
General Technical Links and other people pages
Inline versus Vee.. What is the VR6?