Other changes were cosmetic, with a chrome grille and blue brake calipers, which became a hallmark styling feature on all future Volkswagen R models. The R32 also featured bi-xenon headlights and wheels of 18 inches as part of its desire for exclusivity. Inside, the high standards imposed by the regular Golf were in order, with a spacious cabin, a well-appointed driving environment, perceived sound quality and good ergonomics.
The R32 also introduced a few of its own touches in line with its sportier mission. A three-spoke, flat-bottomed multifunction steering wheel was standard and, on DSG variants, accommodated paddle shifters, while aluminum trim adorned the dashboard. Aluminum was also used on the center console, pedals and door panels.
Air conditioning and smart wipers were standard, but some of the features now common on many new cars today were optional, including parking sensors and satellite navigation. Other options offered a sportier feel, including hard-shell Recaro seats with their added lateral support.
The R32 pushed the Golf into a new performance bracket without compromising its appeal as a practical family hatch. And speaking of appeal, prices today start at £5,000.
What we said then
October 5, 2005: “The R32’s handling matches its pace, with masses of grip and taut body control. Its inherent steering gives a good degree of confidence in fast corners. The brakes are excellent. beautifully finished, making the new R32 a more complete car than its predecessor. It’s faster (if only partially), more comfortable, better looking and better equipped. It also offers a level of drivetrain sophistication that the GTI can’t match. In short: brilliant.