Is Volkswagen’s Golf R 400 Coming to America?
Well, this could get interesting. According to Autoblog, Heinz-Jakob Neusser has said that if the Golf R 400 goes into production, it will be sold in the United States. The word “if” hasn’t been so heavily emphasized since Sparta’s reply to Philip II, but considering how rare it is for the U.S. to receive many of Europe’s coolest cars, it’s still pretty big news. Then again, the story was published on April 1, so Steven Ewing could just be cruelly toying with the emotions of America’s hot hatch fans.
Assuming for the time being that this report is not an April Fools’ joke disguised as news out of the New York Auto Show, this means that there’s a very good chance Volkswagen could soon be offering a version of the Golf R that makes over 400 horsepower, a more than 100 horsepower boost over the puny, regular Golf R. It’s hard to argue that 400 horsepower and all-wheel-drive wouldn’t make for one heck of a fun car to drive, whether or not you like hatchbacks.
While pedestrian in comparison to a 400-horsepower version of itself, the Volkswagen Golf R is already a very good car. We got to drive it in California, and on canyon roads with Dynamic Chassis Control equipped and a manual transmission, it was excellent. In fact, one of the journalists on the trip liked it so much, he bought one with his own money. The Subaru WRX STI is faster, but it’s hard to beat the everyday practicality and refinement of a Golf hatchback combined with all-wheel-drive and nearly 300 horsepower. A production Golf R 400 would be absolutely amazing.
The WRX STI isn’t the only competition for the Golf R, though. The 315-horsepower Ford Focus RS just made its U.S. debut at the New York Auto Show, and Honda announced that the Nürburgring-devouring Civic Type R is coming to the U.S., as well. Offering a truly bonkers version of the Golf might be what Volkswagen needs to stay near the top of the pack. Considering that the entire pre-order allocation of Golf Rs sold out in 11 hours, people are certainly willing to pay for fast, fun Volkswagens. There are probably even enough of them who would be willing to pay for a Golf R 400.
Price is certainly a major factor when it comes to the conversation about the Golf R 400. The most desirable version of the Golf R already costs about $40,000. The Golf R 400 would probably come standard with most of the Golf R’s performance options, as well as that more powerful engine, an upgraded suspension, and better brakes. Those performance improvements will obviously make the Golf R 400 better to drive, but it all comes at a price. A production version would probably end up costing at least $45,000 and could even push up toward or over $50,000.
Are there really enough people out there who are willing to pay more than $45,000 for a Volkswagen hatchback? At that price point, you can buy a lot of different vehicles. You’re even within spitting distance of a Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG, though the AMG only makes 355 horsepower. A Volkswagen Golf R 400 wouldn’t have the prestige of a luxury nameplate, but it would have at least 400 horsepower. You won’t see hundreds of thousands of people clamoring to buy a 400-horsepower Golf, but surely there are at least 5,000 people in the U.S. and plenty more in Europe who would see the super hot hatch as a completely justifiable purchase.
So will Volkswagen sell the Golf R 400? No official announcement has been made yet, but CAR magazine in the U.K. thinks that the answer is yes, reporting last November that it could confirm Volkswagen’s production plans. If it really is coming, look for the production version to be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.