This is what made the Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 so special

If a vehicle comes to mind when you think of volkswagen, it is the famous Ladybug. Certainly, this famous German brand has many other important and popular models under its belt, but some of them hold a higher place in the hearts of customers than all the others. The Golf series, for example, is another long-running production car (alongside the Beetle) to achieve iconic status, particularly in Europe, where it recorded the highest sales for many years ( your writer certainly contributed to these figures).


The compact car in the spotlight here has developed over eight generations so far, gradually receiving the badge from Mk1 to Mk8. Now, while more than a few versions of the full line deserve our attention, we want to take a closer look at the Mk4. Why is this, you may ask?

The Volkswagen Golf Mk4 was the generation that aimed to move up the market ladder with improved specification and high quality build and equipment. In 2003, a very special version of this vehicle was born to fulfill this mission, and almost 20 years later, the Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 is one of the most popular hatchbacks in Europe and beyond. . Here’s why.


RELATED: Here’s What We Love About the Mk8 Golf R

The Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 has arrived as a replacement for the previous GTI

The Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 was a special of the year 2003, given that its main objective was to overtake the previous GTI. It was actually not very difficult to accomplish. Unfortunately, the mentioned Golf Mk4 GTI was not very well received, given that it lacked the power, acceleration and overall sporty design that everyone loves in hot hatches. The R32 quickly changed that, however.

This VW compact car arrived with a larger version of the 2.8-liter VR6 engine that the brand already had in its hands. The new 3.2-liter VR6 (with cylinder banks sharing the same head) sent 240 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque through a Haldex all-wheel-drive system. It was mated to a six-speed manual transmission as standard, with the biggest upgrade being the direct-shift gearbox or optional DSG dual-clutch transmission.


In fact, the Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 was the first vehicle to offer a direct-shift gearbox (or automatic for large-scale production) as a more efficient option than the manual. Speaking of special, right?

In terms of acceleration, the R32 was able to accelerate up to 200 km/h (limited) and go from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 6.4 seconds. Although today these numbers may not seem so special, at the time of its launch, the Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 was known to perform well. More importantly, all specifications have been improved over previous versions of the Golf, making the R32 a highly desirable option.


In the end, the Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 was so well received that the brand decided to sell it in the United States and Australia as well, releasing it as the 2004 model year. Around 5,000 units were delivered to these places and sold out in less than a year. VW has achieved the boom it was aiming for with the new Golf. RELATED: Meet the fastest Volkswagen Golf Mk2 Racer that can outrun most supercars

The timeless Hot-Hatch formula has been incorporated into the Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 from the start

But it wasn’t all about the Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4’s improved power, acceleration and unique drivetrain. This vehicle also ticked other important boxes that stand before a desirable hot hatch, such as quality and attractive design.


The Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 has actually received some subtle revisions to make it even more attractive than the previous version, starting with the deeper front and rear bumpers and a set of side skirts. With these modifications, the hot hatch got really hot – from all sides and from all angles.

Also, as we hinted, the interior received some updates. The sports seat, ESP, air conditioning, rain-sensing wipers and cruise control were all nice additions. The cabin ended up being quite sporty and attractive, which is a good thing, given that one of the very few downsides to this car was a bit of a stiff ride over bumpy terrain.

While we absolutely love this special ride, we have to admit that a firm ride and somewhat heavy steering were (and still are) its weak points. But then again, the Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 is such a fun and engaging car that most drivers are likely to forgive it for its flaws (some of us do that every day).

In addition, it must be recognized that the Volkswagen Golf R32 Mk4 has aged gracefully. Almost 20 years later, this hot hatch is more appealing than it’s ever been, with its hefty price tag reflecting that most accurately. But in the end, almost all Golf versions tend to maintain their prices, so we’re not surprised that such a special version is expensive even after all these years.


Michael C. Ford