Behind the Wheel: 2008 Volkswagen R32 Review!
July 21, 2020
That's right, we're back again with another car review! This time, we have a car that's probably been sneaking under your radar. A car that's a little bit of an oddball given the family it's in. Not a runt necessarily, but just....different. The car that has a 6 cylinder engine, AWD, a dual-clutch gearbox, and all the versatility of a hatchback. The MK5 Volkswagen R32!
We'd like to extend a huge thank you to Meister Import Motors Inc. of Greenville, Wisconsin for allowing us to review their 2008 VW R32!
Starting off with the Looks category, we talk about our first impressions of the styling of the vehicle. This pertains only to the exterior of the car.
Let's be honest, the MK5 generation of the Golf isn't the most loved. Its styling is usually far outmatched even by its predecessor, the MK4 R32. With this being the highest trim level possible for the Golf at the time, you'd expect this to be the flashiest, most aggressive-looking variant. This isn't necessarily the case. We don't think it's a completely unattractive car, but the R32 never really did much to set itself apart from its little brother, the GTI.
The silver front bumper and grille look exactly like the Jetta of this generation which doesn't help with that WOW factor that a limited production car usually brings. However, the rear of the car you can see gets the dual center-exit exhaust which looks really good. Pair that with the red paint, blue brake calipers, and only two doors, and you do get a sporty looking car, but nothing that stands out all that much.
- Projector headlights
- Center exit exhaust
- Two-door hatch is cool
- Dated design
- Large proportions
Moving onto the performance of the R32. This is where the R32 is quite a bit different than any of its competition. The MK5 R32 comes with a 3.2L VR6 engine producing 250 horsepower and 236 lb ft of torque. This is sent through a 6 speed dual-clutch automatic transmission driving all four wheels. That's right. This is a six-cylinder, AWD, dual-clutch hot hatch. This propels the R32 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and it will run a quarter mile in 14.4 seconds.
Although the sound of the R32s magnificent VR6 is beyond intoxicating, The car still felt a little heavy for it's own good and would really benefit from a more aggressive tune. That being said, the car has plenty of torque to do anything you need it to do. This car really shines at 2,500-4,500RPM, but doesnt seem to enjoy being revved out. The DSG trans shifts fast and helps the VR6 make all the right noises. Overall, this is a fun car to drive and definitely to listen to, but it won't win you many races. We didn't get a chance to try it in a winter climate which we're sure would be an absolute blast with the AWD system.
- VR6 has plenty of torque
- Dual clutch transmission
- Amazing noises
- Slower in a quarter-mile than a MK4 R32
The MK5 Golf/ GTI/ R32 launched in a weird time. A lot of automakers were trying to do the retrofuturistic thing with less focus on quality, shortly followed by the mid-2000s recession. There are hard plastics all over the place, and design seemed more based around specific shapes rather than ergonomics, but it's no fault of VW, this was simply the standard for the time.
The seats were pleasantly aggressive without overdoing it and the room inside was very surprising. The average height person sitting in front of the door pillar could fully extend their arms and not touch the dash, and there was still room in the back seat for a passenger. The trim was pretty cool to look at as well. It's important to note that this is a numbered car which gives it cool points. You can find what number R32 you're in at the bottom of the steering wheel.
- Seats are comfortable
- Massive inside
- Cool looking trim
- Numbered model on steering wheel
- Dated interior
- Cheaper materials
4. Aftermarket Support
The Golf platform is plentiful when it comes to mods and for the most part, this stays true with the MK5 R32. Since the VR6 is a naturally aspirated engine, there's not a whole lot you can do in terms of modification to the motor for more power unless you boost it. There are kits out there to boost this engine but they are expensive. We'll leave it up to you to decide if they're worth it or not. If you decide to keep it NA and want to modify under the hood, you could do an intake, exhaust, and tune to wake the car up a little bit, but that's about it.
As far as suspension and wheels go, the options are nearly endless. These cars look so good when they're lowered whether it be coilovers or air suspension. BBS and Rotiform wheels seem to be incredibly common for this car and we're not complaining. Overall, these cars can look really, really good if you're willing to put in the work.
These cars make great all year round vehicles for enthusiasts. AWD, dual-clutch trans, good power compared to other hatchbacks of its time, and the beloved VR6. Not to mention VW R cars tend to hold their value. If you're looking at picking one up, you can usually find them hovering around the $10,000-$15,000 mark which makes them a pretty good deal. It may not be the fastest thing on the road, or the best looking when stock. But we bet the sound will put a smile on your face and you'll feel special every time you get to drive it.