The R32 pushes the envelope on performance specs for a hot hatchback. Where most of these types of cars use a four-cylinder engine, the R32 has a V-6, along with all-wheel-drive and one of the better transmissions available.

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Volkswagen designed the R32 with a very clean look, even though it uses the Rabbit's body. The car gets extra grilles down low to help cool the largish engine.

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For motive power, the R32 uses a 3.2-liter V-6 producing 250 horsepower, plenty for a car of this size. Strangely, it doesn't use Volkswagen's direct injection technology, which could be worth a few extra horsepower.

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The R32 has an excellent profile, with its clean looks complementing its classic hatchback body.

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To mark the performance character of this car, Volkswagen gave it blue brake calipers, which you can see between the spokes of the wheel.

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The rear of the R32 further shows off the clean design, with the tail lights blending into the rear quarters.

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As a hot hatchback, the R32 has a usable cargo area. During our testing, we even found it stable enough to drive around like a maniac without doing much damage to groceries.

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We started to lose our love for this car in the cabin, where its subpar electronics became obvious. The strangest feature was the lack of a CD player because of the iPod-integration option.

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With its 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, the R32 holds the corners with fantastic grip. It goes where you point it without any wheel slip.

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The R32 also comes with Volkswagen's Double Shift Gearbox (DSG). The DSG uses computer-activated clutches to let you make shifts without pushing a clutch pedal. The result is lightning fast shifting.

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The gauges should have gotten a special treatment for this super hot hatchback, such as white faces. The middle display is typical of older generation Volkswagens and Audis.

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We were very unhappy with the navigation system in the R32, which often couldn't keep up with the actual position of the car.

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The interface for address selection is workable, but not very pretty or innovative in the navigation system.

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We found it very difficult to find satellite radio stations with this interface. It was easy to navigate presets, but finding other stations was nearly impossible.

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The iPod dock is located in the center console, with a fixed port. We like the arrangement for this part of the iPod integration.

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The interface for the iPod is terrible. It doesn't show any track information, and it requires you to dial through each track one at a time. The only saving grace is that you can choose up to five playlists.

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We were pleased with the high notes and the bass kick of the audio system.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
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