It’s been 20 years since VW upped the hot hatch ante with the original R32. Now to mark the anniversary of that car’s debut, VW has thrown a touch more power and goodies at the Golf R. And you’ll never guess what they’re calling it: The Golf R 20 Years.
The original VW Golf R32 hit the streets in 2003. It was the world’s first car with a dual-clutch transmission (though that gearbox was only available in Europe). VW paired that with a Haldex-based AWD system, a six-speed manual, bigger brakes, sportier styling, and a jewel of an engine: a 3.2-liter VR6 making 238 horsepower. This was followed by a second-gen R32 based on the Mk5 Golf (or Rabbit, VW couldn’t make its mind up) that got 250 horsepower. From the Golf Mk6 on, the model became known as simply Golf R.
The new Golf R 20 Years is the most powerful Golf R ever made, and thus, the most powerful production Golf ever assembled by VW. Upgrades to the engine boost power to 329 hp, up 14 ponies over the standard car. There’s even a feature called Emotion Start. When enabled, the R will rev to 2500 rpm when you first start it up. It’s a cool feature that’s great in how childish it is. That rounds out the performance upgrades. Everything else is visual.
It’s all subtle, but just enough to let you know this isn’t a regular Golf R. Blue accents are everywhere, paying homage to the original R32’s blue paint. There’s a blue R on the black front grille and another on the B-pillar; special 19-inch Estoril wheels in either blue or black; the mirrors even project a “20 R” logo on the ground at night when the doors are open. Inside, there’s real carbon fiber trim on the dash.
We should note: All the photos and details we’re showing you here pertain to the European-market Golf R 20 Years. VW says a 20-year anniversary Golf R will come to the U.S. at some point, but ours will be a bit different from Europe’s. Pricing has not been announced for any of them. If we find out more about the U.S. version, we’ll update here.