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VW Golf R adds AWD, tons of power (pictures)

With its excellent handling, the Golf R is a blast to drive over a winding road, yet can hold its own for the boring, day-to-day activities.

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Wayne_Cunningham.jpg

Wayne Cunningham

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1 of 20 James Martin/CNET
Volkswagen brought the high-performance Golf R to the U.S., following a line of other tuned-up Golfs, such as the R32. Unlike most of its predecessors, the Golf R uses a four-cylinder engine instead of a V-6.
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The new Golf's styling looks good, with smooth sheet metal running down the sides, and is enhanced by the body color grille for the R version.
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VW gives its direct-injection 2-liter engine a big turbo, letting it generate 256 horsepower.
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In two-door form, the Golf R's long doors make access to the rear seat possible.
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The suspension successfully treads the line between ride comfort and sport stability. Standard all-wheel drive lends grip in hard cornering.
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The Golf R sports dual exhaust tips sticking out from the center of the rear bumper.
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The hatchback design means plenty of usable space.
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The Golf R is equipped as a high-trim model, with leather seats.
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Even without the navigation option, the Golf R comes with an LCD touch screen for phone and stereo operation.
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VW uses electric power steering for the Golf R, but the tuning is very good, with reasonable heft and a semblance of road feel.
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The instrument cluster includes an LCD in the center, which can show trip, phone, and audio system information.
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The six-speed manual transmission is the only choice for the Golf R, both literally and thematically.
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The phone system includes contact list integration, so you can see contacts on the LCD and use voice command to dial by name.
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The satellite radio interface is functional, but not particularly pretty.
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VW includes a number of audio sources, including SD card, CD, Bluetooth streaming, and its proprietary Music Interface, which can handle iPod integration.
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Bluetooth audio shows track information on the screen.
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The center display shows track data from a Bluetooth streaming source or iPod integration.
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For new Apple media devices, you will need the 30-pin-to-Lightning adapter.
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The Golf R's head unit shows the music library for a connected iOS device.
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VW offers an audio upgrade to Dynaudio speakers, but the stock eight-speaker system is not bad. It could primarily use stronger bass and more power.

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