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VW Confirms: No R32 for 2009


Side view of 2008 Volkswagen R32 2dr HB Blue

Side view of 2008 Volkswagen R32 2dr HB Blue

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VW spokesman Thomas Wegehaupt informs dismayed hot hatch fans everywhere that the Rabbit-based R32 hatch will be taking at least a one-year hiatus. Cars.com finds this a bit of a strange move, as the redesigned R32 hadn't even been on sale for a full year.
Further, they muse that the reason for the '09 omission could be the redesigned '09 Golf/Rabbit heading to the U.S. market next year. That vehicle was revealed at the recent '08 Paris Auto Show. Being that the R32 resides on the Golf/Rabbit chassis, they reason that we might need to wait a year or two into production of the new model before a suitably updated R32 comes into being.

But with future hi-po versions of the Golf/Rabbit GTI rumored to come equipped with the uprated version of VW's 2.0-liter TFSI powerhouse (260-plus horsepower, as in upcoming performance versions of the Audi TT), will the 250-horse R32 become an obsolete engine and trim? Plus, with the R32's higher curb weight due to equipment-intensive all-wheel drive, and thirstier V-6, one could make a convincing argument that the niche-oriented R32 isn't a wise bet for a tough market and rising energy costs.

If you're one of those dismayed fans, better jump in the queue: Cars.com's inventory claim a total of only 276 R32s in the U.S. at present.--Colin Mathews

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Comments (5)
  1. VWS usually have great styling, far better th an that of assorted mid-priced japanese or Korean or even domestics
    But when you see this side view, does anything hit your eye?
    I think the front overhang is way too long and looks real BAD.
    BMW has exactly the opposite design philosophy, its cars have very short overhangs, esp. in front, so they do not look out of proportion, or like that overhang will fall off or something, like it looks on this otherwise fine Design of the Golf-Rabbit-Racoon or whatever they want to call it.
     
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  2. Yeah Ed - good eye, that front overhang is a tad lengthy. That's just the reality of a front-wheel drive vehicle - all of those mechanicals have to live somewhere. In your BMW, the transmission resides aft of the engine allowing a more svelte profile with wheels pushed right to the front corners. I still think the Rabbit is a great design, and I'd be curious to compare the next-gen (just released at the Paris auto show) profile to the one here.
     
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  3. It was probably the view, I have driven all kinds of GOlfs and Rabbits in the past 20 years and it never offended my eye, probably I never looked at them excactly from that angle.
    Here in the US the Jetta sold always far more copies than its mechanical twin the golf. People prefer the 4 door with trunk style, also the Jetta has a HUGE trunk for its size.
    But they would have sold a million Jettas and Passats a year if they did something about their reliability. My first car was a Dasher Wagon (it was a Passat iun Europe), much smaller than today's Passat or even Jetta Wagon, great driving feeling, handling etc, but the parts failed at 60 k just from wearout.
    And VWs 2000 comeback also eventually fell flat as the reliability problems started again.
    Surprisingly, these cars are considered reliable in Europe. But there they are compared to the far worse Fiats and Renaults.
     
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  4. Hey Colin:
    I thought about what you wrote and I don't think it is only a function of Front or Rear drive.
    Because there are front drive cars that look good, such as the MINI, which has ZERO front or rear overhangs. The new MINI is owned by BMW, but even the old Mini was equally good visually, and BMW had nothing to do with it.
    In addition, there were and maybe still are plenty of rear-drive domestics with huge oiverhangs front and rear. The Crown Victoria-Grand MArquis is probably the most visible. maybe also the TOwn car?
    So it is NOT just a function of FWD or RWD,
    it is also a strong function of the Wheelbase vs Length. Most US large cars may be very long, but have a very short wheelbase comparatively to the 7 series and the S class, which get 120-123 inch WB from a total length of barely 200-205 inches, while many large domestics are well over 200-208 inch long, BUT have WBs of much less than 120 Inches.
     
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  5. Ed - Good points, sir. While front-wheel drive does present more challenges to designers to eliminate unsightly front overhang, you are correct - it can be done, and is done in cars like the Mini and Audi's new A4 (major re-engineering in the latter vehicle to push the engine's center point further back in the chassis, as it is a front-wheel drive platform). And in some of the land yacht rear-drive vehicles you mention, like the Town Car and most recent Buick Roadmaster, note that there is about four feet of dead space between the front bumper and the start of the engine. Those vehicles' front overhang is due to styling considerations (long, baroque hood = wealth and luxury) not any constraints due to powertrain packaging. But if you look under the hood of the Rabbit, that engine bay is jam-packed.
     
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