This is what makes the Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 so special

If any vehicle comes to mind when thinking VolkswagenIt’s the famous beetle. Sure, this famous German brand has many other important and popular models under its belt, but few of them hold a higher place in the hearts of customers than all the others. The Golf Series, for example, is another long-range production car (along with the Beetle) to achieve a niche, especially in Europe, where it posted top sales for many years (admittedly your writer contributed to those numbers).

The compact car under the spotlight has been developed here for over eight generations to date, gradually receiving decals from Mk1 to Mk8. Now, although more than a few versions within the entire group deserve attention, we want to take a closer look at the Mk4. Why is that you might ask?

The Volkswagen Golf Mk4 was the generation that aimed to climb the market ladder with upgraded specifications, high-quality architecture and equipment. In 2003 a very special version of this vehicle appeared to get the job done, and nearly 20 years later the Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 has become one of the most popular SUVs in Europe and beyond. Here’s why.

Related: Here’s what we love about the Mk8 Golf R

The Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 has arrived as an updated replacement for the previous GTI

The Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 was a standout for 2003, considering its primary goal was to overtake the previous GTI. It wasn’t actually that difficult to achieve. Sadly, the said Golf Mk4 GTI wasn’t a very good ride, considering it lacks the power, acceleration and overall sporty design that everyone loves in the hot holes. Despite this, the R32 quickly corrected this.

This Volkswagen compact car arrived with a larger version of the 2.8-liter VR6 engine that the brand already had in its hands. The new VR6’s 3.2-liter engine (with banks of cylinders that share the same header) sent out 240 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque through Haldex’s all-wheel drive system. It’s paired with a six-speed manual transmission as standard, with the biggest improvement being the optional Direct-Shift transmission or the DSG dual-clutch transmission.

In fact, the Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 was the first car to offer a direct transmission (or mass-production automatic) gearbox as a more efficient option than manual. Talk about special, right?

In terms of acceleration, the R32 was capable of accelerating up to 128 mph (limited) and going from 0 to 62 mph in under 6.4 seconds. While these numbers may not seem like much today, at the time of its launch the Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 was recognized as a fast performer. Most importantly, all the specifications have been improved compared to previous Golf versions, making the R32 a highly desirable choice.

In the end, the Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 was so well received that the brand decided to sell it in the US and Australia as well, marketing it under the 2004 model year. About 5,000 units were delivered to these locations and sold out in less than a year. Volkswagen has achieved the boom it was targeting with the new Golf. RELATED: Meet the Fastest Volkswagen Golf Mk2 Racer That Can Beat Most Supercars

The timeless Hot-Hatch formula has been incorporated into the Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 from the start

But it wasn’t all about the improved power, acceleration and transmission unique to the Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4. This car also checked the other important boxes that stand in front of a desirable hot hatch, such as quality and attractive design.

In fact, the Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 received some subtle overhauls to make it more attractive than the previous version, starting with deeper front and rear fenders and a set of side skirts. With these modifications, the hot hatch is already hot – from every side and angle.

In addition, as we have indicated, the interior design has received some updates. The sports seat, electronic stability system (ESP), climate control, rain-sensing wipers and cruise control were great additions. The cabin ended up being very sporty and attractive, which is a good thing, considering that one of the very few drawbacks of this car was a slightly rough ride over rough terrain.

While we absolutely love this particular ride, we have to admit a steady ride and a bit of heavy steering were (and still are) pain points. But then again, the Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 is such a fun and attractive car that most drivers will likely forgive its flaws (some of us do it every day).

What’s more, we have to admit that the Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 has gracefully aged. Nearly 20 years later, this hot hatch is as attractive as ever, with the high price tag reflecting this most accurately. But in the end, almost all Golf versions tend to raise their prices, so we’re not surprised that such a special edition comes out pretty pricey even after all those years.

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