The Volkswagen Golf GTI and the Golf R32 are top-line performance "hot hatch" compact cars that wield considerable power and road agility. VW's hatchbacks have long proven to be fierce competitors in driving and road rally races. The production GTI and R32 models, sharing the same wheelbase and virtually the same bodies, deliver the same quality performance in speed and handling.
The 2009 GTI is equipped with a turbocharged 200-horsepower 2-liter inline four-cylinder engine generating 206 pound-feet of torque. It shares the same wheelbase as the R32 at a compact 101.5 inches, and measures 165.8 inches long. It stands 58.4 inches tall and 69.3 inches wide. Its curb weight is rated at 3,162 pounds.
While the GTI is the performance version of the Golf, the 2008 R32 could be categorized as the high-performance compact version of the GTI. It's powered by a 250-hp 3.2-liter V-6 wielding 236 pound-feet of torque. It measures 167.2 inches long with similar width and height dimensions of the GTI. It's also a bit heftier than the GTI with a curb weight of 3,547 pounds.
The GTI is VW's performance hatchback, also called a "hot hatch," features two- and four-door body designs. An Autobahn Package offers a sunroof, leather upholstery, premium audio system and heated front seats. The Thunderbunny Package equips the GTI with a front spoiler, 18-inch wheels and navigation system. Standard features include power mirrors, driver/front passenger/side airbags, daytime running lights, engine mobilizer, theft deterrent system, sport suspension and power windows and locks.
The R32 is a fully loaded trim level of the GTI and is offered only as a two-door hatchback. It features dual exhausts, 18-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, full-power accessories, heated sport seats, six-CD changer with premium sound system and satellite radio. Standard features are similar to those in the GTI.
The GTI's turbocharged engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission allows it impressive speed with a 0-60 mph timing of less than 7 seconds. It possesses exceptional road grip on twisting roads. It has no tendency to roll. It's as quiet as a church mouse on daily commutes to pick up the kids at school. It gets 21 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway.
The R32's superior torque allows it a 6.5-second timing from 0-60 mph and glides effortless at high speeds in long-distance highway driving. It hugs the road well, but can have a tendency towards understeer and bit of body roll, according to edmunds.com. The R32's added weight is responsible for minor handling annoyances. The R32 is less impressive with fuel economy: 18 mpg in the city and 23 on the highway.
The GTI and R32 are expensive cars for their class. The GTI starts at about $23,230, while the R32 begins at $32,990. But there's no mistaking that these performance cars outshine similarly equipped imports. Their size and performance packages in particular make them more attractive, for example, than the BMW 3 Series, which can cost about $10,000 more than the R32.
- Photo Credit Wild Dreams, picasaweb; pedrosimoes7, Luke Dorney (luxuryluke), The Car Spy: flickr.com