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2016 Volswagen Golf R - Driven

2016 Volswagen Golf R - Driven

Functionality meets fun

The Volkswagen Golf R has been long awaited here in the U.S. where customers have pining for this Europe-only car to make its appearance Stateside. Now with the 2016 model year, that wish has finally come true. The anticipation is justifiable when considering Volkswagen first debuted the Golf R32 back in 2003. It featured the first dual-clutch gearbox in any production car and had VW’s then-new 3.2-liter VR6. It set the bar extremely high in the hot hatch segment.

Volkswagen has plenty of competitors out there, but the Golf R still holds its own. It comes with 4Motion AWD, a standard six-speed manual or the optional six-speed DSG automatic, and of course, the 292-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Those mechanicals are good for a sub-five-second launch to 60 mph and more fun on public roads than Johnny Law will allow.

At the same time, the Golf R is still… well, a Golf. It boasts 52.7 cubic feet of cargo room with the second row folded. There’s still 22.8 cubic feet of room with the second row locked in place. That means the Golf R is not only fun, but it’s functional. Obviously, that’s the appeal of a hot hatch. There’s little compromise unlike a 2+2 sports coupe or larger, heavier crossover.

I recently spent a week with the Golf R fitted with the DSG, DCC, and no N-A-V. Punny acronyms aside, the car was well equipped, but not loaded. Thankfully it had Apple CarPlay (and Android Auto) so I was able to use my iPhone for navigation. So what’s it like to live with the Golf R? I’ll let you know below.

Continue reading for the full driven review.

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Easter Special: Easter Eggs of the Car World

Easter Special: Easter Eggs of the Car World

Have you found where these cars are hiding?

In a world that has more supercars and sports cars than you can keep track of, it’s pretty easy for those that don’t go mainstream to get lost. It’s sad when you think about it. Over the years, there have been some interesting concept and production cars that never got the attention they deserved. Take the Tushek Renovatio T500, for instance. Have you ever heard of it? I’m guessing you probably haven’t, but it was a remarkably beautiful car with distinct styling that should have made it a favorite among collectors.

These days, we’re blessed with every supercar manufacturer dropping a new model on a regular basis. In fact, we’re spoiled, when you think about it. And like any group of spoiled children, as soon as we get what we want, we immediately start asking for more. It’s not that the supercars we all know and love, like the Koenigsegg One:1, Bugatti Chiron, or the Pagani Huayra BC aren’t special, because they certainly are. They’re just well known, and even if you haven’t seen one in person, you’ve seen one on TV or Youtube.

So, in light of Easter this year, we’ve decided to look back at a few cars that are very much “Easter eggs” of the automotive world, and that’s if you can even find them at all. I’m talking about cars like the aforementioned Tushek Renovatio T500, or the Tramontana XTR. Some of these car’s never made it into production, while others were produced and fizzled away into automotive history. Either way, let’s take a look at a few of my favorites.

Continue reading to discover a few automotive Easter eggs.

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2016 Ford Focus RS VS. 2016 Volkswagen Golf R

2016 Ford Focus RS VS. 2016 Volkswagen Golf R

In the not-so-distant past, we Americans weren’t exactly spoiled for choice when it came to picking a hot hatchback. Sure, we’ve always enjoyed plenty of tire-roasting drag racers, but these machines could never quite satisfy when it came to cornering prowess and practicality. Call it the grass-is-greener syndrome if you like, but the fact remains that many drivers in the U.S. felt slighted when gazing across the Atlantic, dreaming of high-strung, boosted engines stuffed in front of rounded rooflines over an odd number of doors.

Thankfully, that time is behind us, because the hot hatchback is coming to these star-spangled lands in droves. No longer need fans of the do-it-all, agile super-commuter feel jealous of folks overseas. Finally, automakers have realized the potential sales of affordable, power-to-weight superstars. 

Two of these vehicles, the Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R, represent two of the best hot hatches that money can buy. Both are turbocharged. Both have AWD. Both promise a combination of worry-free highway cruising, copious space to carry things, and enough race-inspired engineering to embarrass the average sports car. 

But which is better?

Click past the jump to learn which car is the best: the new Focus RS or Golf R.

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2016 Volkswagen Golf R

2016 Volkswagen Golf R

Although it offered a high-performance GTI version of the Golf since the very beginning, it took Volkswagen nearly three decades to develop a more powerful version of its popular hatchback. It was 2003 when the Golf R32 arrived as the world’s first production car with a dual-clutch gearbox and every performance, safety, and luxury feature Volkswagen had to offer, as well as the brand-new, 3.2-liter, VR6 engine. The nameplate continued as the R32 for the fifth-gen Golf and was changed to Golf R with the Mk6 generation. An all-new Golf R debuted at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show and then traveled to the U.S. for the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. But despite being showcased on American soil only a few months after its European debut, the Golf R did not arrive in U.S. showrooms until early 2015, as a 2016 model.

That’s more than a year’s wait for customers, who probably managed to survive the 12 months by feeding on the R’s staggering performance numbers and aggressive appearance, and dreaming about the day they will be in control of the 292 ponies coming from the 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-pot. With the Golf R Launch Edition already sold out as of January 2015, the seventh-gen hot hatch is finally ready to hit U.S. streets and take on similar offerings from Ford and Subaru.

Updated 01/27/2015: Volkswagen finally revealed a set of high-res images of the new Golf R, which apparently is a big hit in the U.S. Check the new images in the "Pictures" tab.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 Volkswagen Golf R.

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2014 Volkswagen Golf R by ABT Sportsline

2014 Volkswagen Golf R by ABT Sportsline

The Volkswagen Golf is one of VW’s cornerstone models. I don’t think anybody will dispute that, given the model’s been around for seven generations. The Golf has been and continues to be loved by millions of Volkswagen fans all over the world. You might even say that ABT Sportsline falls into that group. The German tuner’s affection for the Golf is well documented, so it comes as no surprise that ABT has once again turned its attention to the Golf.

Actually, the Golf R is the subject of ABT Sportsline’s latest program. You all know what that means, right? Expect plenty of power under that hood. In the interest of full disclosure, ABT did not disappoint. The program also has the traditional aerodynamic upgrades, as well as a new set of wheels.

Click past the jump to read about the Volkswagen Golf R by ABT Sportsline

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Video: Volkswagen Golf R vs BMW M235i

Video: Volkswagen Golf R vs BMW M235i

It is not even a tiny bit of a secret that I love my Volkswagen Golf. I love its combination of good looks, practicality, and sporty driving characteristics, but how does it compare against something from BMW? In this episode of Chris Harris on Cars for /DRIVE, Chris takes a look at the latest and greatest seventh-generation Golf R, and he compares it to the new darling from BMW, the M235i.

In usual Chris Harris fashion, there is a bit of wit, a bit of history, and just a dash of sideways. Strangely though, he doesn’t really come to a solid conclusion about which one is best. He just gives us what he sees as the pros and the cons, and leaves it at that.

Seeing as he never came to a full conclusion, I leave it up to you to make your choice. Hit up those comments and tell us which car you think is the better of the two. I’ll be back a bit later to congratulate everyone who I think is right, as well as chide all those who have yet to see the light and truth in this automotive universe.

Now hit play, watch the two cars do their magic, and get to commenting. I am waiting.

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Ex-Porsche CFO Guilty of Fraud

Ex-Porsche CFO Guilty of Fraud

It looks like things have turned sour at Porsche headquarters in the past few months. At the beginning of this year, a former Porsche dealer in India, Precision Cars, filed a criminal case against Porsche and the courts in Jaipur decided that Porsche CEO, Mattias Müller, and eight other Porsche execs could be arrested and issued warrants for said arrests.

Now, Porsche’s is facing other difficulties. Ex-finance chief, Holger Haerter, has been convicted of fraud after a court in Stuttgart, Germany proved he provided falsified information back in 2009 when Porsche tried to take over Volkswagen AG. The court decided that Haerter offered inaccurate information when he was working on refinancing French bank BNP Paribas’ part of a €10 billion loan ($13 billion). The biggest issue at hand is that this false information affected Volkswagen’s stock price and lead to market manipulation.

Reports say that prosecutors wanted him to serve time in jail, but instead he was fined an unspecified amount. Haerter rejected the charges and argued for an acquittal.

Click past the jump to read more about Volkswagen’s takeover.

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Video: Volkswagen Golf R VII Pushed Hard at Nürburgring

Video: Volkswagen Golf R VII Pushed Hard at Nürburgring

Now that Volkswagen unveiled both the standard and GTI version of the seventh-generation Golf, the next model we expect is, of course, the R version. We’ve brought you plenty of spy photos of the 2014 Golf R, but this time we present to you a video showing the upcoming Golf R taking a beating on Nürburgring.

The upcoming Golf R will be powered by a revised version of the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to a DSG or a six-speed transmission. The revised engine will deliver 256 horsepower in the U.S. version and 270 horsepower in the European model.

As for aesthetics, the next-gen Golf R will receive the same R treatment as the current model, but it will get the some of the design improvements seen on the other seventh-gen Golf variants, including: revised headlights and taillights; a new grille and front bumper; and a revised backside.

Stay tuned for more information and spy shots on the new Golf R as we slowly approach its debut.

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Seventh-Gen Golf R Hides in a Block of Ice

Seventh-Gen Golf R Hides in a Block of Ice

We have seen the seventh generation Volkswagen Golf hit the market and the concept version of the Golf VII GTI. Naturally, the next step is the unveiling of the Golf VII R.

Today, Volkswagen has dropped a first teaser image of the seventh-generation Golf R concept. Volkswagen took the creative route with this teaser and, instead of showing an indistinguishable close up of some random part of the hot hatchback, it placed the concept in a virtual block of ice to disguise its features.

Even though this teaser reveals nearly nothing, you can still make out larger air intakes in the front bumper and the overall “R” persona. Under the hood, the new Golf R will get a 2.0-liter TFSI engine with an output in the range of 290 horsepower. The engine will be connected to a six-speed manual or a six-speed DSG and will send power to all four wheels via a Haldex all-wheel-drive system. Of course, top speed will be limited to only 155 mph, but we expect a little improvement on its 0 to 60 mph time.

Thawing will begin 14 days from now and the official unveiling will be made at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.

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Volkswagen Polo R WRC Street Could Come with AWD

Volkswagen Polo R WRC Street Could Come with AWD

The latest addition to the Volkswagen Polo lineup is the powerful Polo R WRC Street version powered by a 2.0-liter TSI engine with an output of 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This version sprints from 0 to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds and can hit a top speed of 151 mph. The only problem is that it comes only in front-wheel drive.

Well, now it looks like VW may be having second thoughts about this hot hatch carrying only FWD. According to head of R&D Ulrich Hackenberg, Volkswagen may offer a four-wheel drive version of the Polo R WRC Street, but only for several countries in the world. He confirmed that such a model is still not under development, but he "could imagine it."

If built, the Polo R WRC Street AWD would likely be developed on the company’s PQ25 platform that has already been used for the all-wheel drive Audi A1 quattro. Unfortunately, there we won’t see it here in the U.S., but it’s still cool regardless.

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2013 Volkswagen Beetle “Chopped Top” by Galpin Auto Sports

2013 Volkswagen Beetle “Chopped Top” by Galpin Auto Sports

Wow, VW hit SEMA really hard this year, especially with the Beetle. Pretty much every model of Beetle that was heading to SEMA – Rotiform Beetle, Beach-Battle Cruiser Beetle, and the Super Beetle – were all readily available with images, but the Chopped Beetle by Gaplin Auto Sports was not, for some reason.

Well, GAS has just released an image of this chop-top Beetle and some extra information. It is based on the 2013 VW Beetle Turbo, which means it features a 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and a 6-speed transmission. There’s no mention of any additions to the engine, so we assume that it remains bone stock.

On the outside, GAS doused it with an Onyx Black base coat and accented the sides with Candy Apple Red metal-flake paint, giving it an awesome look. GAS then took to the top of the Beetle, hacking 5.5 inches off of the A-pillar and 2.5 inches off of the B-pillar, giving it that classic chop-top look, while retaining the classic humped roofline.

Adding to its bespoke look, GAS deleted the rear windows and added in rear air scoops in their place. If you have seen rodded beetles that retain their rear-mounted engines, this is a very common modification to get a little more airflow to the engine. Given this is a front-mounted engine, it’s just there for show.

Adding to its style is a set of 20-inch, 3-piece Forgiattos handmade rims. GAS them topped off the outside by adding tint to the headlights and taillights, giving this already sinister- and vintage-looking Beetle a little more darkness.

On the inside, the vintage treatment continued, as GAS tossed in vintage-style black leather that features red accent stitching. The headliner is dyed to match the vintage cow hide on the rest of the interior. Wrapping the inside and outside together, GAS painted the interior trim panels and dashboard with the same Candy Apple Red metal flake that sets off the exterior. We are still awaiting images of the interior and we will get them to you ASAP.

Overall, we think this was well worth the delay in getting the images, we just wish it had a little something extra under the hood.

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Lotus Parent Company Bringing in a Foreign Partner, Maybe Volkswagen

Lotus Parent Company Bringing in a Foreign Partner, Maybe Volkswagen

It has been a little while since we last checked in on Lotus and its ongoing woes, but we have a small bit of news to pass on. There has been much speculation that DRB-Hicom has been considering offloading some or all of the Proton and Lotus money vacuum to the highest bidder. We all assumed it would be Volkswagen AG, but V-Dub has recently said that it is done with acquisitions, for now.

Reports out of Malaysia say that DRB-Hicom is now working on bringing in a “Foreign partner” to Proton Holdings Bhd, Lotus’s direct parent company. The reports are stating that the talks about this introduction are still in preliminary phases, but the announcement of talks alone is enough to tell us that DRB-Hicom is seriously looking into a way to stop the bleeding via an outside source.

With Volkswagen saying that it has stopped only acquisitions leads us to suspect that it has a small hand in these talks. Volkswagen and DRB-Hicom could easily enter into a nudge-wink type of relationship, much like the VW-Porsche takeover, and reap the benefits without much risk by simply becoming partners then later deciding to “restructure” the partnership.

This would ultimately give VW a clear port of entry into Southeast Asia – something it sorely needs – and give DRB-Hicom some much-needed financial relief and maybe a little boost in sales. Also, with Volkswagen’s reputation of turning around faltering car companies, a Volkswagen-DRB-Hicom-Proton Bdh partnership could ultimately save Lotus from potential extinction.

As we said, the discussions are preliminary and there is no confirmation that the talks even involve VW. It just seems like a perfect fit for every party involved. We’ll keep you updated on this as more information comes out.

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2012 Volkswagen Golf GTI by BBM Motorsport

2012 Volkswagen Golf GTI by BBM Motorsport

BBM is a well-known tuner of various Volkswagens and the GTI has once again become a favorite of import car tuners everywhere. This latest GTI mod offered by BBM serves up both styling and performance modifications that are sufficient enough to make any Vee-Dub owner smile.

The first thing you get is a carbon-fiber hood that saves a little weight and adds to the look of the GTI. The carbon-fiber treatment continues on the door step plates, rear diffuser, and mirror housings, completing the look. CFC Styling Station wrapped the rest of the body in a blue metallic foil and added a load of stickers to the front, left fender.

Looks aren’t all you get with this package. You also get a set of orange and aluminum 8 x 20-inch Corniche Challenge rims with sticky 235/30R20 tires mounted to them for a little extra grip. Also helping you keep it on the road is a complete suspension setup from KW Clubsport. Bringing this GTI to a stop is a set of Stopteck front brakes that feature 355 x 32 mm (23.97 x 1.26-inch) rotors and 4-piston monobloc calipers.

The twisties aren’t the only place you can have fun with this BBM-tuned GTI. It also boasts am ECU flash and a full-stainless-steel exhaust system with a racing catalytic converter. This pumps the GTIs turbocharged 4-banger from 210 horsepower to a whopping 275 horsepower and its torque from 206 pound-feet to a more respectable 280 pound-feet.

There is no build price listed for this kit, but we would anticipate it to run in the $5,000 range with all of that carbon fiber. It may even sneak into the $8,000 range, if the ECU modification is more than a simple flash.

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Correction: Audi Does NOT Own Ducati, Lamborghini Does

Correction: Audi Does NOT Own Ducati, Lamborghini Does

Okay, for ease of understanding we always just place Lamborghini under Volkswagen AG’s umbrella, but in reality, VW owns 99 percent of Audi AG who in turn owns Lamborghini... got it? In a third party, back-door kinda way, yes, VW does own Lamborghini... sort of. So earlier in the year, we mentioned that Audi had secured the Italian motorcycle builder, Ducati, for about $1 billion.

According to Audi’s financial report, it is not the owner of Ducati. How in the world does that kind of error slip through the cracks, right? Well, apparently, Audi follows the same school of thought as its parent company, Volkswagen AG, and tries to push the bounds of legality to get things done, a la Porsche getting a share of VW to exempt VW from paying taxes on the buyout.

Instead of Audi buying Ducati, Lamborghini actually bought it. This does two things for VW, Audi, and Lamborghini. First, it allows it to retain its Italian roots and secondly, it helps push Lamborghini’s overall fuel economy and emissions closer to the European standards that have plagued it in recent years.

So VW has found a way to slither its way through the EU rulebook and find a way around a very important law. Touché, VW, we bow to your supreme rule-bending abilities and the way you do it without us even noticing sometimes.

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The VW and Porsche "Corporate Restructuring" is Officially Official

The VW and Porsche "Corporate Restructuring" is Officially Official

Finally! After a long and drawn out process, the corporate restructuring that brings full control of Porsche’s automotive side under Volkswagen’s control is approved and official. The deal sent 4.49 billion Euros and one voting share of VW stock from VW and Porsche SE to Porsche AG, the latter item being simply a concession to avoid paying a load of taxes and was left out of VW’s press release.

This officially gives Volkswagen AG 100 percent holdings in Porsche and effectively gives VW the ability to do whatever it wants with the famed sports car builder. We have already alluded to the possibility of VW overriding Porsche’s CEO and continuing on with the “Baby Boxster” project that gained notoriety lately. That possibility was given more solid ground with a statement released by VW CEO, Martin Winterkorn.

Winterkorn was quoted saying “The path is now finally clear for a bright future together. Even closer cooperation will enable us to significantly strengthen Volkswagen and Porsche, and further expand the group‘s product portfolio with fascinating new vehicles.”

You see, it is that last section about bringing new models that really drives home the possibility that VW may be about to force Porsche to build a lesser-priced version of the Boxster. We see that as making perfect business sense because if Porsche buyers can accept a sedan and a pair of SUVs, why can’t they accept a lower-priced Boxster?

Either way, congrats to both sides and we are glad to finally see this issue laid to rest.

Click past the jump to read the full press release.

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Volkswagen's Sole Ownership of Porsche Could Spawn the Baby Boxster

Volkswagen’s Sole Ownership of Porsche Could Spawn the Baby Boxster

Last week, we gave you a nice little rundown on what Porsche has in store for us in the coming years. One of those cars included Project 551, which we have all nicknamed the “Baby Boxster.” This compact, entry-level roadster looked to be a certainty in Porsche’s lineup, when suddenly the plan was axed, as Porsche’s CEO basically said it doesn’t fit the Porsche mold and they want to retain their customer exclusivity.

Well, now that the recent automotive giant, Volkswagen AG, has bought out the remaining shares of Porsche, err, “restructured” their corporate design, we may see this all change. You see, VW could give two cents about customer exclusivity. It wants to sell units and that’s that. VW will likely keep the 200,000-unit goal that Porsche had set before the “restructuring” and the way that VW may do this is to release a lower-priced roadster.

Think about it, fresh college graduates can’t typically afford a $50,000 base-level Boxster, but a $23,000 Miata is not an issue. Well, if Porsche slides a smaller, less feature-packed version of the Boxster right between the two, say at about $32,000, it could suck these young professionals into the Porsche brand early. With these premium brands, once they get in, they are typically customers for life.

In addition, the excuse that Porsche CEO, Matthias Mueller, made regarding a Baby Boxster not fitting the Porsche mold is complete hogwash. Porsche released an SUV and a sedan in the last decade, plus it is about to release a smaller version of its SUV, so how in the world could a smaller, more wallet-friendly roadster not fit in with a sports car company? Yeah, we don’t get it either.

Keep an eye out for some changes in the Porsche lineup over the next few months, there’s bound to be some and we bet one will be the announcement of an upcoming production model of the Project 551.

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