The VW Golf R32 certainly has a legacy.
The R32 is a cult classic and amongst hot hatch enthusiasts, is known to be up there as one of the best to have ever been made.
In 2003, VW launched the Mk IV Golf R32 as the first production car in the world to have a Direct Shift Gearbox, also known as a DSG. The Mk V Golf R32 carried the ‘R32’ name to new heights thanks to its increased power, smooth V6 engine and outstanding handling encouraged by the very clever 4MOTION AWD system. That being said, this car is not perfect.
The reputation of the Golf R32 does in fact do it an injustice. Walking up to the car that you have heard so much about, thinking about all the tall tales of them smoking every car that dares to race it at the lights, you would expect to be truly flabbergasted at the experience of driving one. Well, you would be disappointed.
At the end of the day, it’s just another plastic-clad hot hatch which is about as thrilling as a children’s roller coaster. Here’s why it’s overrated and overhyped.
The interior is just godawful
As just mentioned, time has not exactly been kind on the Golf R32’s interior. This applies to all cars with plastic interiors, really. The more plastic you have, the more awful it will look in five or ten year’s time. Where’s the leather, the metal, the ambient lighting, the effort? It looks like the inside of a Transit van, for goodness sake.
Unfortunately, this would also apply to pretty much all of the hot hatches of this period but at least some of them tried. Still, I think a lot of people forget just how bad the inside of this car is and don’t realise until they have actually sat inside. Let me remind you…it’s bad!
It’s just not very fast
Some people may hail this car as a stylish masterpiece or a hot hatch icon, which is agreeable, sure, but one cannot call this car a pocket rocket by any definition. The Mk V Golf R32 had 247 bhp (updated models) and could do 0-62mph in around 6.5 seconds.
Now, don’t get me wrong, and at the risk of sounding like a stopwatch snob, but that’s pretty mediocre right? If it’s performance you want, you would be better off in an old Subaru WRX. Not only would it be quicker, but better looking too!
The reputation of the Golf R32 truly exceeds what it actually is. All of those stories you have heard about them warping into hyperspace are either not true or are from modified examples that have had some serious remapping and tuning done to them.
Sounds like rattling tin cans
Unfortunately, the car sounds exactly how it looks. Like a boy racer car. Perhaps that’s what VW was going for at the time and if you like that sort of thing then this car is perfect for you. On the other hand, if you’re after a car that sounds a little bit more grown-up then this is not for you.
At higher revs, the VR6 engine does send some deeper (and much cooler) sounds through the exhaust. However, at low revs, the car sounds like a fart cannon. It sounds like every youngster’s cheap exhaust that’s fitted to their Fiesta. Like an eBay exhaust.
Now, of course, this is all subjective but exhaust notes and engine noises are particularly subjective. If you’re into raspy cars then you’ll surely love the sound of a farting R32.
The Golf R32 is not what you think it is
Not just the Mk IV and V Golf R32s, but all Golf R’s, are often mistaken for something they’re not. They are not meant to be perfectly tuned and refined racing machines and they’re not meant to be wild or extravagant. The Golf R is essentially a sensible and practical car with a bit of a kick to it.
Perhaps this is why it’s so overrated. It’s like if people started saying the Lotus Elise is the best car for drag racing. Although it may be pretty quick in a straight line, the car is built for handling, cornering, track days and so on, not straight-line speed.
The same applies to the beloved R32. At the end of the day, it’s not as stylish as a Nissan Skyline, it’s not as crazy as a Subaru WRX STI and it won’t have equal performance to an E46 M3. That’s because the Golf R32 excels at being practical, drivable and also fairly quick. It’s not the hottest hatch in town but it’s still a great, well-balanced car which is something you can’t say for all of them.
Let us know how much you hated us talking badly about your favourite car in the comments! Or, let us know if you agree…
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