The Volkswagen Golf R will make its U.S. debut next week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, boasting breakneck speed and standard four-wheel drive in a compact package.
The fastest and priciest variant of the popular hatchback, the R will have 290 horsepower, 34 more than the previous model. Torque jumps by 37 pound-feet to 280.
That's a big bump over 210 horsepower in the GTI, the mainstream go-fast Golf. The R model also distinguishes itself with all-wheel drive, stiffer suspension, unique 18-inch alloy wheels, different bumpers, side skirts, LED lights, and a two-branch exhaust system with four chrome tips.
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The improvements extend to internal engine components, says VW, including modifications to the cylinder head, pistons, injection system and turbocharger. Inside the cabin, the R gets standard leather seats and a differentiated instrument panel.
Fans of the Volkswagen Golf in the U.S. have already been waiting a long time for the redesigned model, which first debuted at the Paris Auto Show in 2012 and has been selling in Europe for more than a year.
They'll wait even longer for the Golf R, which won't hit dealers until the first quarter of 2015. (The standard Golf hits dealers in the second quarter of this year, VW says.)
When it arrives, VW says, the R will have substantially better fuel economy to go along with more power. All Golfs should see improvements in the range of 15 percent, the automaker has said. The previous R, a 2013 model, rated 19 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway.
The R will come with two transmission choices: a six-speed manual and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. And, again, VW is proving that shifting yourself no longer means faster shifts. The automatic version will reach 62 mph in 4.9 seconds -- compared with 5.3 seconds for the R with a manual.
Volkswagen also has yet to announce pricing, but expect the next R to start in the neighborhood of $35,000.
Also at the Detroit auto show, Volkswagen will showcase a concept Passat it contends can achieve 42 mpg -- without a hybrid or diesel powertrain. The Passat BlueMotion Concept is powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged gasoline engine, aided by a trio of fuel-saving technologies.
Active Cylinder Management, already used on Polo and Golf models in Europe, deactivates two of the four cylinders in situations in which the driver cruises at low speeds.
A coasting function on the DSG dual-clutch automatic disconnects the transmission from the engine when the driver lets off the accelerator.
The car also comes equipped with a stop/start function, allowing the car to shut off at stoplights then automatically restart when a driver hits the gas.
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