TodayApril 16, 2022

Driving the 2012 Volkswagen Golf R in Europe

Andres Valbuena is the project manager for the Volkswagen Golf R. Valbuena is the person talking over the scenery and the shoots of the car as we drove from Geneva, Switzerland to l’Abbaye de Talloires, France.

The most powerful Golf ever offered deserves some of the most beautiful scenes the French Alps has to offer.

By all-weather accounts it was supposed to be raining or snowing, the day we started our journey from Geneva through the French Alps down to the banks of Lac d’Annecy, heralded as the purest lake in Europe because of the environmental regulations.

This is the first time Volkswagen has offered a 2.0 turbocharged all-wheel drive in a Golf for the U.S. market. The fourth-generation Haldex, or 4motion, makes this the most technologically advanced system that VW has offered in the Golf. The previous generation Haldex took about six seconds to engage the rear, this generation is practically instantaneous.

Volkswagen is bringing their A-game to the Golf R. The tweaked up, teched-out Golf R has a better sound and more horsepower than the GTI. The near-European suspension rivals the competitors that are already in the United States. The 18-inch Talladega alloy wheels zip through the roundabouts and are surefooted on the straight-aways.

The U.S. market will get the lower horsepower variant of the 2.0 TSI 4motion engine. The U.S. is considered a “hot country”, so the technicians tune the European version to 270 horsepower, but the same engine will get somewhere between 256-260 horsepower in the U.S. with a 243 lb.-ft@2,400-5,200 of torque.

There are subtle external differences in the European version versus the American version. Notably, there won’t be black inlay in the headlamps and no LED in the taillights. If you want everyone to know you’ve got the R then buy the rising blue color that is specially made for the R version.

The Golf R will start production in November and make it to America as a 2012 model. All Golf Rs will come standard with climatronic automatic air conditioning.

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.