The latest generation of Volkswagen's venerable Golf hatchback is still more than six months away from landing on U.S. soil, yet already the automaker is teasing us with the car's fastest iteration.
Details of the all-new Golf R were released Tuesday. The car increases the power and fuel efficiency of the current model, which we tested last year.
The engine in the new Golf R is similar to that in the upcoming GTI, though its been tuned for more power. Volkswagen says the R will have 296 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, numbers that are up 40 and 37, respectively, over the outgoing Golf R.
2012 Golf R: Review | Photos
That power is coming from a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with direct injection and variable valve timing. It's paired with either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed dual clutch automated manual, known as DSG.
All-wheel-drive remains standard on the R, and Volkswagen says it will do zero-62 mph in 5.3 seconds with the manual -- almost half a second faster than its predecessor. The DSG gearbox will do the same run in 4.9 seconds. Top speed is limited to 155 mph.
Yet this power is coupled with an increase in fuel efficiency too. Volkswagen says that by using start-stop technology, battery regeneration and the engine's direct injection, highway fuel economy on cars with the manual gearbox jumps to 33 mpg from 28. The Golf R with the DSG transmission will hit 34 mpg on the highway (both figures reflect European Cycle testing).
The Golf R will be available in two- or four-door configurations. Visually, it will set itself apart from lesser Golf models with unique bumpers, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime lights and taillights, and quad exhaust tips.
No U.S. pricing is available yet, but don't expect it to be cheap. The current four-door Golf R we tested sold for almost $37,000. Though the Golf R will go on sale in Europe later this year, if the car comes to the U.S. (and it almost certainly will), it won't be until the end of 2014 at the earliest.