Rumors about the Golf R400 heading for production have been swirling for months, and even though Volkswagen’s chief powertrain engineer Heinz-Jakob Neusser officially confirmed the hot-hatch’s existence a month ago, we had yet to see a prototype on the go. That ends today though, with the very first batch of spy shots showing the R400 stretching its wheels somewhere in Germany.

Showcased in concept car trim at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show, the Golf R400 will hit dealerships as the third and most-powerful high-performance version of the beloved hatch. It will slot above the already powerful and nimble Golf R and obliterate everything in its path performance-wise, including the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG and the Ford Focus RS. On paper, the R400 promises to become the most powerful and quickest, factory-built hatchback.

When will you be able to buy it? That’s still a mystery as of this writing, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the R400 break cover at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Should that happen, it will arrive in showrooms for the 2016 model year. Meanwhile, there is no word as to whether it will cross the pond to the U.S., so you shouldn’t get your hopes up yet. Still, Volkswagen would be crazy to not bring it Stateside, more so since the A45 AMG isn’t available here.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen Golf R400.

Volkswagen Golf R400 - spy shots

Volkswagen Golf R400 Caught Testing For The First Time: Spy Shots Exterior Spyshots
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Volkswagen Golf R400 Caught Testing For The First Time: Spy Shots Exterior Spyshots
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Volkswagen Golf R400 Caught Testing For The First Time: Spy Shots Exterior Spyshots
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I know the prototype above looks nothing like the R400 Concept, but don’t let the Golf R appearance and the "R" badges fool you, this is no ordinary hot-hatch. If you’re looking for hints, check out the big wing at the top of the tailgate, the splitter attached to the front bumper and the cooling gear behind the grille. If you need more, there’s a set of sporty wheels wrapped in low-profile tires and cross-drilled rotors with big calipers behind them.

Of course, the R400 won’t be just a Golf R with bigger everything. An updated shell similar to what we’ve seen on the R400 Concept is underway, but it won’t show up on public roads until Volkswagen engineers are done testing the beefed-up powerplant. I can’t see what’s under the hood, but I’m betting on a 2.0-liter turbo-four with at least 400 horsepower and 340 pound-feet of torque. The unit is likely linked to a dual-clutch transmission, and the company’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system.

Why it matters

If there was any doubt that the Golf R400 was slated for production, these photos confirm the Beijing concept car was more than just a fancy study. The Audi RS3 may be the most powerful hatch on the market in 2015, but that will change when the R400 arrives. Fingers crossed it will make it to the States as well.

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