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Old 06-29-2007, 10:07 AM   #1
Hank3
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Default Edmunds First Drive: 2008 Volkswagen R32

Quote:
First Impressions:
You need to really like German hatchbacks to appreciate the R32's combination of performance and upscale comfort. If you don't, you won't.
For full article click here.

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Old 06-29-2007, 10:35 AM   #2
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for the lazy:

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Originally Posted by Edmunds
Making a GT From a GTI

At 4.3 miles, the Landeck Tunnel in the Austrian Alps is one of the longest enclosed roadways in the world. It's an impressive feat of engineering, but a mile or so in, we're feeling a little claustrophobic. Opening the windows doesn't help as the air is thick with diesel exhaust, so to break up the monotony we move on to Plan B.

Two downshifts and a burst of wide-open throttle later, our 2008 Volkswagen R32 is filling the tunnel with the refined burble of its sport exhaust. Up to redline and back down again, the engine is flawlessly smooth with an occasional crackle when we abruptly let off the gas. The R32's V6 has never sounded so good, and yeah, we're feeling much better now.

A few more runs through the six-speed direct-shift gearbox (DSG) and we're through the tunnel, headed toward roads with fewer ceilings and more turns. Wind noise overcomes exhaust growl at this point, but the 2008 Volkswagen R32 has plenty more to keep us interested.

An Unexpected GT

As satisfying as it is to soak up the sound of the R32's V6, this is not a car that relies on cheap engine hop-ups to deliver the performance goods. Although it's based on VW's latest Mk. V chassis for the GTI, the R32 adds a 3.2-liter VR6 engine and Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, neither of which is available on the less expensive GTI.

With this kind of hardware, obvious comparisons are made between the R32 and the all-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Subaru WRX STI, but the Volkswagen isn't a hard-core rally wannabe. "We think of it as more of a grand touring car, really," says David Goggins, director of product and marketing strategy for Volkswagen of America. "We know it's not the fastest or the most extreme-handling car out there, but we think it has a unique combination of performance and comfort that's not offered anywhere else."

It's that logic that has led to the use of Volkswagen's DSG instead of the previous R32's six-speed manual. "DSG fits the personality of the car better," Goggins explains. "The R32 isn't a stripped-down, all-out performance car, but instead a true long-distance tourer." He also points out that by limiting the R32 to one transmission choice and one two-door body style, it was easier for Volkswagen of America to make a business case for the car in the U.S. With only 5,000 examples of the R32 scheduled for sale here, he has a point.

Europe Has Nothing on This R32

Even if the R32 hasn't been designed as a pure performance coupe, it still has a formidable spec sheet. Tweaks to the computer software have added 10 horsepower for a total of 250, while the torque peaks at 236 pound-feet. The twin-clutch DSG gearbox isn't any different from the one offered for the standard GTI, but Goggins notes that it has been specially tuned for the U.S. "We were given three shift programs to choose from," he tells us, "and we went with the most aggressive setup — more aggressive than even the European model."

The R32's suspension settings have been carried over from Europe with no changes. Spring rates and damper settings were just slightly retuned to compensate for the added weight of the larger engine and all-wheel-drive system, but careful attention has been paid to the setup so as not to compromise ride quality. Standard 18-inch wheels and tires provide the grip while the front brake discs are more than an inch larger than those of the GTI.

The 4Motion all-wheel-drive system is the same featured in the previous R32. Its Haldex center differential continually distributes torque to the front and rear wheels in varying degrees depending on conditions.

Crossing the Alps
Winding our way up a set of switchbacks in an Alpine pass not far from Lake Como, the R32 proves capable if not nimble. Negotiating one of the numerous hairpins is a matter of getting on the brakes late, snapping off a downshift with the shift paddle mounted on the steering wheel, dialing in about three-quarters of a turn on the wheel and matting the throttle on the way out. Then repeat. Then repeat again.

There's not enough power to get the tires loose and the electromechanical steering isn't overly fast, so there are no worries about getting the R32 crossed up like a rally car. When we go too deep into a corner, the R32 understeers until we scrub off enough speed to get our line right again. When we dive in a little early, the all-wheel-drive system simply yanks the nose around until we're headed in the right direction.

Even with the R32's optional all-season Dunlop SP Sport tires, there's plenty of grip. That's probably why the stability control rarely intrudes, but with guardrails as spindly as sprinkler pipes, we're not exactly pushing the limits.

The R32 feels more comfortable when the hairpins turn into sweeping bends. It rolls a little, settles in midcorner and sticks without needing any steering adjustment. Road feel is excellent for an electrically assisted steering system, and the thick rim of the steering wheel isn't bad either.

If there's anything that could use work, it's the Sport program for the DSG's shift schedule. It feels nervous, dropping a gear when we don't need one and often doing so with a clunk. Soon we simply leave the DSG in its normal mode for the rest of the trip and never miss the quicker shifts Sport mode promises.

No Autobahn Required
Once out of the mountains, the wide-open autobahn through Austria begs for a top-speed run, but unlike its German counterpart this road has an 80-mph speed limit and the police are very aggressive. Although smooth and silent on the highway, the R32 isn't brutally fast. In fact, Volkswagen claims only 6.4 seconds to 60 mph, a tenth slower than the 2004 R32.

At this point, however, we don't mind much. Unlike some of its competitors, the R32 feels equally at home while cruising on straight roads as it does blasting through canyons. Seats borrowed from the GTI grip well without forcing you to climb into them, and when you look around the well-appointed cabin, it doesn't feel like all the money went into the engine bay.

The engine-turned aluminum accents are unique, and of course there's some obligatory "R32" badging. Nearly all of the GTI's optional equipment is standard, and the $1,800 DVD-based navigation system is the only option that'll cost you extra. (Even the all-season tires are free if you choose them.) The R32 starts at $32,990, so with the navigation, you're looking at nearly $35,000.

Do You Really Want To Have It?
Paying more than $30,000 for what is essentially a top-of-the-line Rabbit isn't an easy sell. But with only 5,000 headed our way and a good chunk of those already spoken for, the 2008 Volkswagen R32 is clearly aimed at a specific customer.

Caught between a BMW 328i on one hand and a Mitsubishi Evo on the other, the R32 occupies a very small niche in the market. More like a splinter, really. It's like a GT car stripped to a core of function and practicality, a compact long-distance car with high-tech engineering.

Considering its downmarket hatchback profile, it seems as if it costs more than it should. Then again, the R32 also does more than it should, too. For the right kind of driver, the R32 won't seem quite so expensive, and he'll be glad to own it every time he drives through a tunnel.

Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
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Old 06-29-2007, 10:39 AM   #3
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Old 06-29-2007, 11:08 AM   #4
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that car is REALLY not worth the money.
GTI is the way to go $11k less.
gti plus chip = R32
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Old 06-29-2007, 11:09 AM   #5
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And I don't like how it's only one transmission choice.
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Old 06-29-2007, 11:10 AM   #6
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I forgot to mention that the 2008 sti will be compaired to this car as this was one of Subaru's targets, the R32 will not survive and I'm not just saying performance wise.
die Golf die!
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Old 06-29-2007, 11:16 AM   #7
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R36 with 300hp is in the works, but it will probably be around the 40k mark.

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Old 06-29-2007, 11:19 AM   #8
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R36 with 300hp is in the works, but it will probably be around the 40k mark.

this will be europe market only.
either way it will die against the STI.
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Old 06-29-2007, 11:21 AM   #9
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for $35K that the R32 is fetching for I'd rather opt for a 328i coupe. and for the supposed $40K+ that the R36 will be sold for, give me a 335i coupe. VWs being priced this high is ridiculous.
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Old 06-29-2007, 12:07 PM   #10
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I love VW's but that is too much money for too little.

Rob
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Old 06-29-2007, 01:14 PM   #11
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I like everything about the R32 except the DSG only. While im sure DSG isnt bad, I just couldnt part with my manual.

I have read alot of reviews of the DSG and most say that its cool at first but the novelty of the DSG wears off shortly and people wished they bought a manual.
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Old 06-29-2007, 04:38 PM   #12
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Quote:
First Impressions:
You need to really like German hatchbacks to appreciate the R32's combination of performance and upscale comfort. If you don't, you won't.
What if you like German hatchbacks that are inexpensive, lightweight/nimble and starkly practical?



...oh, right.. that's not what "German hatchback" means these days.
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Old 06-29-2007, 05:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtom12 View Post
I like everything about the R32 except the DSG only. While im sure DSG isnt bad, I just couldnt part with my manual.

I have read alot of reviews of the DSG and most say that its cool at first but the novelty of the DSG wears off shortly and people wished they bought a manual.
i test drove a GTI specifically to test out the DSG transmission. Obviously it was a short term test but it definitely is pretty cool. The shifts are super fast, way better then the typical fake automanual transmissions but if owned the car, it would most likely be in auto mode most of the time since it doesnt offer the joy of a clutch pedal. To sum it all up, i would rather go for a good old fashion stick and clutch.
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Old 06-29-2007, 05:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dodiox View Post
that car is REALLY not worth the money.
GTI is the way to go $11k less.
gti plus chip = R32
At the end of the day it really isn't 11k less. Comparing apples to apples (2.0T w/ DSG + leather) you are looking at a 5-7k difference in price.

I bought my GTi for 26k w/ 6spd, leather and Nav. the sticker was close to 28k. A fully loaded GTi (18s, DSG, NAV) gets close to the 30k mark.

Cars are certainly not getting cheap.
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Old 06-29-2007, 05:56 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by teh POD View Post
for the lazy:
Thanks for stealing. Edmunds.com's web traffic affects its revenue. By copying and pasting here, you're affecting this. I hope you have a nice day.
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Old 06-29-2007, 06:07 PM   #16
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If they replaced the R32 with the R36 and kept it at 35,000 it would be a good compromise between GT and performance. I had a VR6 Corrado and though a fan of the idea of the narrow angle V6, I hope they have cured the leaking head gaskets, faulty water pumps (both of them), VAG's famous exploding heater cores, etc......Through in the electrical gremlins and it was a love/hate relationship.

To all the guys giving him crap about a Civic, it is often funner to drive a car with lower limits to its fullest than have to drive the STi at half its limits. Unless you are at the track, it is just dangerous to drive an STI at 10/10th on public roads. The limits are just to high and things happen to fast.
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Old 06-29-2007, 06:22 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beaverboy View Post
What if you like German hatchbacks that are inexpensive, lightweight/nimble and starkly practical?



...oh, right.. that's not what "German hatchback" means these days.
I still miss mine.
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Old 06-29-2007, 08:17 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by USCTrojan4JC View Post
Thanks for stealing. Edmunds.com's web traffic affects its revenue. By copying and pasting here, you're affecting this. I hope you have a nice day.
ummm...others have done this in the past.
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Old 06-29-2007, 08:25 PM   #19
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ummm...others have done this in the past.
Why should what others have done in the past affect what you do when it comes to doing the right thing?
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Old 06-29-2007, 08:32 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USCTrojan4JC View Post
Thanks for stealing. Edmunds.com's web traffic affects its revenue. By copying and pasting here, you're affecting this. I hope you have a nice day.
Dude, shut up. Thank you for wasting server space with your useless post. You stole 5 seconds of time from everyone that veiwed this thread. I'm sure in the future he will post the link, it was a mistake. So shut the hell up. I hope your day sucked, because you are a miserable *******.
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Old 06-29-2007, 08:53 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silver arrow View Post
Dude, shut up. Thank you for wasting server space with your useless post. You stole 5 seconds of time from everyone that viewed this thread. I'm sure in the future he will post the link, it was a mistake. So shut the hell up. I hope your day sucked, because you are a miserable *******.
God bless you, too.
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Old 06-29-2007, 09:19 PM   #22
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Okaaaaaaaay

the flame fest ends now

take it to pm's... keep it out of the discussions.

please.
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Old 06-29-2007, 09:22 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USCTrojan4JC View Post
God bless you, too.
You've made your case in past threads. If you don't like it...move on.

Stop the repeated protests.

Go to law school and put up a fight...until then...you're not helping your case.




Never downloaded a song/vid clip, etc. etc. off the internet?




Edit: Sorry Jamie, you beat me!
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Old 06-29-2007, 09:59 PM   #24
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Back on topic. I loved my 2 A1 GTI's. My 92 GTI was a fun car. Corrado was great but to heavy. The R32 is a great car, just not that fast. It's a fun GT car, just not in the league of an STI. The STI's interior isn't in the same league as an VAG. It comes down to what you want. If you want an A1 GTI, go buy a MINI
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Old 06-30-2007, 12:46 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dodiox View Post
gti plus chip = R32
I'm sorry, what? Are you that confused?
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