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VW R32

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If you want to make sense of the headline, go to YouTube and check out VW ads. If you want to know more about the little monster called R32, read on.

It is not the first time that I have done this. As in, go for one test drive and come back impressed by yet another machine – tongue on the floor and all. Blame it on Fabian, the amiable representative from VW, who took real effort to ensure that visiting journalists had a good time driving the Passat that was due in India. The only mistake he made? Ahem, he was driving an electric blue VW Golf with the magic R32 initials on it. The moment I saw it I wanted to drive it. Well, if we had friendlier neighbours than Pakistan,
I would have considered driving one straight from Wolfsburg to Mumbai.

Take a good look at this little devil. Short, squat and aggressive. No add-on bits that characterise slammed cars. There is more than a hint of supreme performance though – ‘why the hell should a small hatchback need massive air-intakes?’ is where it all begins. A chrome visage separates it from the rest of the Golf bunch when seen front on. Twin exhausts at the rear complete the visual story. The 18-inch ‘Zolder’ type wheels with 20 spokes brim the wheel arches, with blue callipers peeping out mischievously.
As far as aerodynamics go, it can cut wind at 250 kph but you won’t see any protuberances in the form of skirts, splitters and diffusers. Sure, the VW engineers had to slap on a rear spoiler so that the rear of the Golf is planted all the time. Air is channelised under the car all the way to the rear bumpers too. Power goes to four wheels (4Motion) from a particularly hyper 3189cc V6 that develops 32.3 kgm of torque and 250 bhp. Yup, you read right, 250 bhp, round figure – nice, isn’t it? 

So once the Passat duties were over and done with, I sheepishly asked for the R32 keys. And Fabian didn’t think twice. I like these kind of people – who toss keys to 250 bhp, 250 kph cars just like that.
I didn’t have an open road to drive the mighty R, though. But an enclosed road around the Wolfsburg stadium meant I could go through the manual gearbox (there is a DSG version available too) a few times. The interior is special enough for you to notice the nicer seats, metallic inserts and so on. But what wakes you up is the exhaust note. It is so sharp and loud that you can sit there on the driving seat and blip the throttle all day. Carrying bucket-loads of revs and launching the R32 is the easy bit. Imagine a four-wheel drive go-kart with a 250 bhp engine and you get a rough picture. There is not much wheelspin, but there is lots of noise as you run through the gears. The R32 can manage a 100 kph dash in 6.5 seconds and with 165.56 bhp to the tonne, that is hardly surprising. Forget the numbers though – it is the seat-of-the-pants feeling that cannot be explained. You don’t expect a hatchback to run so quickly and it does so without giving you the feeling that the engine is going to send valves to the moon around the
next bend. 

The R32, launched at the Frankfurt Motor show in 2005, comes with aircon and a ten-speaker music system. But that is just defeating the purpose. With a car like this, you roll your windows down, listen to the motor and go through six gears as the car goes about its job of disintegrating the egos of those driving super expensive exotics. Do not expect it to come to India – heck, the Americans got it a good two years after the European launch. But it is good to know that cars like these exist, right?