The R32 is the rarest of Golf breeds and far and away the heartiest performer. What sets it apart is the Haldex all-wheel-drive system and a potent transverse-mounted 3.2-liter V6. While the R32 is no lightweight at 3,350 pounds, it puts its 237 horsepower down to the tarmac a lot differently than its luxurious cousin. Handling is dynamic, thanks to a traction control system that barely makes its presence known, but still manages grip effectively. The V6 is specially tuned for the R32 and develops power in the low end before screaming its own praises near the 6,500 redline. Aesthetically, this Golf borrows from the Porsche 911 and Audi RSs, one of the advantages of Volkswagen being the parent company for sure. The lines are fitting for a car of the R32’s performance and set it apart from its lesser — but still potent — cousins the GTI and standard Golf.
The R32 debuted for the 2003 model year as a limited-production model ranging above the GTI as the ultimate performance model of the Mk4 Golf. Previously introduced by the New Beetle RSi, the R series was designed specifically as a performance brand to the Volkswagen brand akin to BMW's M series or the AMG series of Mercedes-Benz.
This model adds aggressive styling elements to the otherwise subtle Golf body including a redesigned front-end, oversize exhaust pipes, and 18 inch, 15 spoke alloy wheels. It houses an EA390 codenamed VR6 engine with 3.2 liter displacement that peaks at 6250 rpm at 237 hp (177 kW) and provides 236 ft·lb (320 N·m) of torque at 2800 rpm.
Due to its high-power engine, it has an all-wheel drive in place of the GTI's front-wheel drive. Its transmission in the Forza series is a six-speed manual, although the R32 was also available as the world's first production car with a dual-clutch DSG gearbox.
The R32 was continued with the Mk5 Golf for the 2005 model year, and was replaced by the Golf R in 2010.