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VW GTI TCR goes on sale in Europe with a hefty price tag

It'll cost the equivalent of about $44,000.

A hot hatch made hotter.

The Volkswagen GTI is a screaming deal at just about any price point, but even diehard VW apologists like myself have to stop and think twice about the price tag connected to its latest Euro-market variant.

Volkswagen announced Wednesday that it has opened up the order books for the GTI TCR, which takes its name from the touring-car class of racing in which the GTI participates. The car was originally previewed at the Wörthersee festival in Germany, a celebration of all things VW, last May.

Of course, the hottest GTI to date has an equally hot price tag -- it'll set buyers back 38,950 euro, which converts to roughly $44,400. That's a hard pill to swallow, considering the regular GTI starts around $28,000 in the US. It's also more expensive than the US-spec Golf R, which starts just below $41,000.

Then again, in performance the TCR is closer to the Golf R than the regular GTI. Its 2.0-liter I4 gas engine now puts out 286 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. It heads to the front wheels through a limited-slip differential, reaching 60 miles per hour in 5.6 seconds before topping out at 155 mph -- but an option package will extend that to 164. The car has more aggressive aero outside, and special microfiber sport seats and a unique steering wheel with a red stripe at 12 o'clock.

While VW likely has no intention of bringing the GTI TCR to the US, the racing variant will be running around racetracks with something we saw at this week's Detroit Auto Show. The Hyundai Veloster N TCR, based on Hyundai's latest hot hatch, showed off its bulky fenders and big ol' wing in the Motor City before the racing season kicks off. VW's race car is equally handsome, so it'll be nice to see these two cars on the track together in the near future.