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Old 05-02-2007, 09:33 AM   #1
NYCshopper
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Default First Drive: 2008 Volkswagen R32 (Automobile)

First Drive: 2008 Volkswagen R32 (Automobile)

http://www.automobilemag.com/reviews...2_first_drive/



Quote:
This past weekend, I stopped by Willow Springs raceway to see what over a hundred Volkswagen R32s would look like. They look, well, like over a hundred R32s.

But the sound. Oh, the sound. See, normally when you pull up to the paddock of a hot racetrack, your ears are assaulted with the maniacal roar of pissed-off engines. Some sound fantastic (ever hear a Ferrari at full bore?) and some sound painful (ever hear a Ford Duratec at full bore?)

But when every car on the track is a mellifluous R32, there is no painful. There is no assault, there is no roar. Each car continually sends your ears a gift basket containing a warm, burbly, Pavarotti-gurgling-with-wine aria that is so unmistakably, magically, VR6.



There were, of course, R32s that sounded different - the turbocharged and supercharged cars sounded really pissed off. Sweet, but pissed off. One R32, though, stood out. It was a European-specification 2008 R32, based on the Mk5 Rabbit, that Volkswagen had brought along to hammer on around the track.

And while its narrow-angle six doesn't sound quite as good to my ears as it did in the first-generation R32 (which, in turn, doesn't sound quite as good to my ears as the original VR6 -- the 12-valve, 2.8-liter originally seen in the Corrado) it's got the rest of the goods to proudly wear the R32 badge.

That means, of course, that it's essentially a GTI with a 3.2-liter VR6 and all-wheel drive. Unlike the original R32, which had a 6-speed stick, it's available only with VW's famed twin-clutch DSG transmission. Since the DSG can't handle too much more than the R32's 250 horsepower, we won't be hearing too many pissed-off, turbocharged-to-within-inches-of-their-lives Mk5 R32s. At least, that is, until someone reinforces the DSG. And that is, of course, a work already in progress by aftermarket tuners.



I drove the 2008 R32 only briefly - I had about 20 minutes of total track time. What I can tell you is this: It's an Atari Car. Like playing a good old-fashioned video game, you keep the steering wheel pointed down the track, keep your foot on the floor, and you'll haul incredible amounts of ass with not much effort - or feedback.

Oversteer is something that the video game engineers - errrr chassis engineers - forgot to program in. Lift in the middle of a corner? Understeer. Stab the brakes in during turn-in? Understeer. Apply way too much throttle way too early in a corner? Understeer. Trail brake? Understeer. Scandinavian-flick into an off-camber corner while simultaneously lifting? You guessed it. Understeer.

But each and every time you look at the speedometer, your eyes bulge. Was I really doing a buck ten through Streets' insane, downhill chicane? Tee-hee? God, I hope that was speedo error.



There is some discernable body roll, but big body motions are kept commendably in check. The steering is precise, but feedback is muted. The brakes shrugged off repeated full-threshold braking zones as if they were made from dry ice: no smell, no smoke, and not a hint of fade. Very impressive.

I'll let the full verdict on the Mk5 R32 wait until we drive one on public roads later this summer. (And my observations about the terminal understeer may change then.) My prediction, though, is that it'll be very much like the TT 3.2 Quattro that I used as my chariot to drive to the track - and with which it shares so much componentry: The R32 will be an immensely capable, if slightly uninvolving, road car that can cover vast distances at ridiculous speeds. But unlike the TT, which sounds blatty and flat, it will do its deed while showering the world with some of that good ol' VR6 acoustic magic.
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Old 05-02-2007, 01:24 PM   #2
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Can't wait for mine. A simple Haldex controller and understeer = gone!

-Mike.

EDIT: oh and that "not able to handle the power" rumor is BS. I know someone who has the insider stuff and it's good for 400 lbft which is plenty for me.
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Old 05-02-2007, 01:26 PM   #3
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If I wanted a fast hatch I think I'd just wait on the STI. An R32 is over $30k isn't it?
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Old 05-02-2007, 02:00 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by design1stcode2nd View Post
If I wanted a fast hatch I think I'd just wait on the STI. An R32 is over $30k isn't it?
I already have my fast "get in trouble" car. Now I want a quick comfortable highway cruiser that is still sporty and fun in the mountains.

-Mike
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Old 05-02-2007, 02:30 PM   #5
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Nice.

I want those wheels for mine. And the rear brakes. Everything else I'm cool with.
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Old 05-02-2007, 02:45 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by mpaone View Post
I already have my fast "get in trouble" car. Now I want a quick comfortable highway cruiser that is still sporty and fun in the mountains.

-Mike
Then I would reccommend a nice Mazda RX8 GT for about 5k less or a used BMW 330 ZHP.
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Old 05-02-2007, 02:52 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by design1stcode2nd View Post
Then I would reccommend a nice Mazda RX8 GT for about 5k less or a used BMW 330 ZHP.
Thanks for the recommendation but I've done my research and I decided on the R32.

-Mike.
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Old 05-02-2007, 02:55 PM   #8
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Good good. You’ll have to give us a review on how you like it and how it compares with your STI. Don’t get me wrong I like the R32 (I’m more partial to its platform mate the TT) I was just shooting out some options.

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Old 05-02-2007, 03:18 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by design1stcode2nd View Post
Good good. You’ll have to give us a review on how you like it and how it compares with your STI. Don’t get me wrong I like the R32 (I’m more partial to its platform mate the TT) I was just shooting out some options.

R32 meets next gen STI = R32 back to the drawing board.
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Old 05-02-2007, 03:49 PM   #10
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R32 meets next gen STI = R32 back to the drawing board.
The R32 and the STI are two completely different cars, so your statement is very flawed. The STI is a raw performance vehicle that is intended for the performance oriented “younger” crowd while the R32 is a well rounded and more refined sports car that is intended for the performance oriented middle aged crowd. Take a ride in an STI on a highway under everyday driving conditions and then take a ride on the same road and same conditions in an R32 and you'll see who should go back to the drawing board. If I had my way I’d have my STI for weekend fun and a new R32 for everyday driving fun.

Quote:
EDIT: oh and that "not able to handle the power" rumor is BS. I know someone who has the insider stuff and it's good for 400 lbft which is plenty for me.
I don't know who your insider is but there is a reason why the 2.0 TFSI has a very flat torque curve that stops at 20X lb.f of torque and that's not just because of looks. (read between the lines on this one)
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Old 05-02-2007, 06:59 PM   #11
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Couple of things...

First of all I have a version 2 STi RA so it will be VERY different. In stock form and 2600 lbs my car is already faster than a MY07 stock STi but it is very spartan. Power nothing and rough around the edges.

I agree with what Georghe said for the most part. OH, and my source is VWoA. Names will be held confidential but it has been tested at that number. Keep in mind, like any gearbox it can break below the max holding capacity but it will do fine with a decent driver.

-Mike.
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Old 05-02-2007, 07:19 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Gheorghe View Post
The R32 and the STI are two completely different cars, so your statement is very flawed. The STI is a raw performance vehicle that is intended for the performance oriented “younger” crowd while the R32 is a well rounded and more refined sports car that is intended for the performance oriented middle aged crowd.
That's what losers always say. "I wasn't trying to win, I'm doing my own thing" .

Funny, most of the people I've seen driving R32's were younger than most STi owners I know.
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Old 05-02-2007, 07:38 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by nate49509 View Post
That's what losers always say. "I wasn't trying to win, I'm doing my own thing" .

Funny, most of the people I've seen driving R32's were younger than most STi owners I know.
How dare you try to compare two similarly priced AWD sport hatchbacks!!! People willing to spend +$30K on a hatch would never consider both of those cars.

V Dub says:
"We could have made the R32 faster, but we didn't feel like it."
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Old 05-02-2007, 09:58 PM   #14
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The r32 is a car meant for people that probably wont track, or streetrace their cars. Its plenty fast for daily driving, regardless that it'll get whooped by an STI, I dont get why people are so caught up in having a car thats faster than others peoples, just so they can boost their egos? Not hating on modded cars, or anything, and if you track the car thats fine, but people think too much about what would happen if two cars ended up at a stoplight and raced.
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Old 05-02-2007, 10:20 PM   #15
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The r32 is a car meant for people that probably wont track, or streetrace their cars. Its plenty fast for daily driving, regardless that it'll get whooped by an STI, I dont get why people are so caught up in having a car thats faster than others peoples, just so they can boost their egos? Not hating on modded cars, or anything, and if you track the car thats fine, but people think too much about what would happen if two cars ended up at a stoplight and raced.
Correctly stated, people go to the proven power forum and see so and so put on a X turbo and the car put down xxxx wheel horsepower and now this car it the law and no other car can compare.

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That's what losers always say. "I wasn't trying to win, I'm doing my own thing" .

Funny, most of the people I've seen driving R32's were younger than most STi owners I know.
That’s a very subjective comment, what are you winning or better yet should I say what are you beating the R32 at? Better interior? Better fit and finish? More options on your STI? A sweet ass sound system? A more refined all-around everyday sports car?
And also, considering that thee were 5013 R32s built in 2004 for the US market and the fact that around 1000 sere sold in California alone and only ~400 sold in michigan, the chances of you making an educated guess about the average age of an R32 owner are not very good. Marketing research on the other hand suggests that the average R32 owner is mid 30s male.

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OH, and my source is VWoA. Names will be held confidential but it has been tested at that number.
That’s interesting, I am an engineer at VWoA and there is no such testing going on in the US (max holding power of a DSG) Development was done in Wolfsburg and all the testing that is done over here is for durability and longevity, engine power configurations are out of the question in the US. From a reliability stand point however the max output of the cars is scaled back so the trannies will last. Also you have to remember that these cars will be equipped with launch control so the happy balance between power and reliability is already reached.
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Old 05-02-2007, 10:31 PM   #16
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The R32 and the STI are two very different cars appealing to two ends of the same spectrum.

The spectrum is performance compacts with AWD (a small spectrum, mind you).

The R32 is at the "Not blindingly fast, but fast enough and a great daily driver" end. The STI is at the "I'm so fast I'll make you forget about my crappy interior" end. To each his own. Both are valid choices.
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Old 05-02-2007, 10:41 PM   #17
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The R32 and the STI are two very different cars appealing to two ends of the same spectrum.

The spectrum is performance compacts with AWD (a small spectrum, mind you).

The R32 is at the "Not blindingly fast, but fast enough and a great daily driver" end. The STI is at the "I'm so fast I'll make you forget about my crappy interior" end. To each his own. Both are valid choices.
Interior has been fixed. I definitely like it better than the stark yet functional GTI/Jetta interior. As I said before Next Gen STI = R32 back to the drawing board.
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Old 05-03-2007, 12:27 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Layman View Post
The R32 and the STI are two very different cars appealing to two ends of the same spectrum.

The spectrum is performance compacts with AWD (a small spectrum, mind you).

The R32 is at the "Not blindingly fast, but fast enough and a great daily driver" end. The STI is at the "I'm so fast I'll make you forget about my crappy interior" end. To each his own. Both are valid choices.
Isn't the GTI fast enough to make a great daily driver and share roughly the same interior for much less?

I'm still trying to see why you would avoid comparing two special edition, AWD, sport hatches in the low $30K range. Exactly how many other cars fit that criteria?
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Old 05-03-2007, 01:20 AM   #19
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Isn't the R37 set to come over here too? It seems like that would be the beast designed to go toe to toe with the STi and Evo.

I'm surprised the DSG can handle so much torque. It seemed like the shaft within a shaft idea to implement the dual clutches was pretty smart, but created strength limitations.

Does anyone know if DSG cars roll forward like automatics do?
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Old 05-03-2007, 01:38 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gheorghe View Post
The R32 and the STI are two completely different cars, so your statement is very flawed. The STI is a raw performance vehicle that is intended for the performance oriented “younger” crowd while the R32 is a well rounded and more refined sports car that is intended for the performance oriented middle aged crowd. Take a ride in an STI on a highway under everyday driving conditions and then take a ride on the same road and same conditions in an R32 and you'll see who should go back to the drawing board. If I had my way I’d have my STI for weekend fun and a new R32 for everyday driving fun.



I don't know who your insider is but there is a reason why the 2.0 TFSI has a very flat torque curve that stops at 20X lb.f of torque and that's not just because of looks. (read between the lines on this one)

The R32 is indeed a very nice vehicle. and it was intended to compete against the sti and evo and aimed for the young crowd (here in America anyway). I don't think middle aged Americans are into boy racer hot hatches. they are into V8s from the good ole made in the USA.
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Old 05-03-2007, 02:06 AM   #21
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Come this next STI, i think they will be in the same bracket. Subaru has clearly made it their mission to target and take out the GTI. With this, Subaru knows that they have to do a major upgrade to the Impreza line as far as the interior. So far, i still the the 08 interior still falls short but is a big step in the right direction... it maybe even good enough such that these minor shortcoming won't really matter. May the best car win...
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Old 05-03-2007, 02:09 AM   #22
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Performance wise the R32 is only compairable to the WRX but its around the same price level of the STI.
The STI will rape this car.
I have to say though that the wrx or sti will never compair to the VW's interior quality.
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Old 05-03-2007, 07:22 AM   #23
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I have to say though that the wrx or sti will never compair to the VW's interior quality.
Just as the VW will never match the mechanical & electrical reliability of the Subaru.

BTW, have you sat in the current Passat? The quality of the interior bits has taken a MAJOR nosedive. <--- my Legacy uses better materials!

There's exactly one German brand that's safe to own past the factory warranty: Porsche. All the others are nothing more than a service writer's wet dream.
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Old 05-03-2007, 09:36 AM   #24
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I am not very impressed with the Mk V R32. What's with the GTI seats? DSG only? Apart from the Haldex AWD, and ridiculous resale value due to VW fanboism, I don't see much this car has over the GTI.

If I wanted a mature sporty car with no concern for reliability for this kind of money, I would get a bare bones 328i with just the sports package. Or better yet, I'm holding out for the upcoming 1 series.
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Old 05-03-2007, 10:38 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superglue WRX View Post
Isn't the GTI fast enough to make a great daily driver and share roughly the same interior for much less?

I'm still trying to see why you would avoid comparing two special edition, AWD, sport hatches in the low $30K range. Exactly how many other cars fit that criteria?
Some of us like AWD. Plus the R32 offers a crapload more than the GTI.

The point is not that you can't compare them. The point is they appeal to two different sets of priorities and both can be the "right" decision depending on the individual.


And, FWIW, the STI is not a special edition.
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