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Hatchbacks

Volkswagen turns up the wick on its wagon with the 300hp Golf R Variant

Five doors and 300 horsepower is a good mix for those who want their practicality with a strong dose of performance.

The sporty station wagon (or sportswagen, in its native tongue) is a rare bird outside of Germany. Here in the US, wagons are practical things, rarely grafted with big wheels, extra horsepower or, indeed, letters like "R" or "S".

Perhaps that's why Volkswagon has chosen to name its new hot five-door the Golf R Variant, rather than the Golf R SportsWagen as you might have expected. But don't be fooled, this stretched five-door version of the Golf is a wagon, and it's also quite worthy of that R. It features the same drivetrain as the base Golf R, which means 300 horsepower from the 2.0-liter TSI engine, routed through a front-biased Haldex 4Motion AWD system and a six-speed DSG transmission. DCC adjustable suspension is an option.

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That'll bring the car to 62 mph in just 5.1 seconds, and on up to a (limited) top speed of 155 -- useful for those early morning runs to drop the kids off at daycare. Or the dogs. And, given that performance, the 34 mpg rating (7.0 liters/100 km and 163 g/km) isn't half-bad.

To sell the part, the car gets a more aggressive facia up front, along with Xenon headlights and LED running lights, while quad exhausts fire out the rear. 18-inch wheels are standard, with 19-inchers on offer. Inside, heavily bolstered seats should keep driver and passenger snug as a bug whilst making a milk run, and 21.4 cubic feet of cargo space (605 liters) means there's plenty of room in the back for just about whatever you care to pack.

Josh Miller/CNET

It certainly sounds like a fair package for sportswagen aficionados, and one that will surely be more attainable than Audi's numerous RS Avant models, but exactly how affordable remains to be seen. Volkswagen hasn't announced a price just yet, nor availability, saying that it will ship in Europe in early 2015. For those of us here in the US we'll have to wait and see, but given VW chose to unveil the thing here in L.A., one has to hope.

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