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Affordable? Classic? Those two words don’t typically go together. But the MK5 Golf R32 is one hot hatch that earns both titles. A reasonable $15,000 price tag and low production numbers mean that this particular Volkswagen hatch is both classic, collectible, and an affordable daily driver.

Years of the MK5 VW R32

The MK5 edition of the Volkswagen R32 was sold for just one year in 2008. Confusingly, this generation of VW Golf hatchbacks was called the Rabbit in the U.S., while the R32 dodged the Golf designation. Instead, it was simply called the VW R32, and it is the second generation of Volkswagen hatchback without the Golf name in the U.S.

The Golf R32 is rare for a hot hatch

2008 VW Golf R32
2008 VW R32 | Volkswagen

Only 5,000 examples of the MK5 R32 made it to U.S. showrooms, making it one of the rarest hot hatches to come to America. It was originally priced at an affordable $32,000, though that was nearly $10,000 more than the GTI of the same vintage, according to Road and Track.

That price point made the R32 a tough sell, as it looked the same and offered similar performance to its front-wheel drive sibling. However, that attitude is exactly why R32 MK5s are so enticing today. While GTIs from that era were a dime a dozen, most R32s went to connoisseurs. That means even higher-mileage used models are fairly well-kept. And the performance they offer still holds up but with a considerably more driving feel.

Superior performance and style set the MK5 R32 apart

2008 Volkswagen GTI | Volkswagen

The most alluring characteristic of the MK5 R32 is the chunk of metal under the hood. The 3.2-liter VR6 is one of the most unique engines of this millennium. Chucking out 250 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, it bests both the MK6 and MK7 GTI on outright pace.

And while the follow-up Golf Rs from 2010 to now all take the MK5 R32 to task, you can’t beat the blend of engagement and performance from the elder hot hatch.

An affordable hot hatch legend

The good news for you, dear reader, is that there are plenty of MK5 R32 hatches available at excellent prices. Selling for between $10,000 and $15,000, you can park your money in something both fun and functional enough to drive every day. And because the VR6 is such an enticing enthusiast platform, there is a ton of aftermarket support for both reliability and performance modifications.

Low-mileage R32 models are hard to find

On the other hand, it’s not easy to find a used R32 with less than 100,000 miles on the clock. At that mileage, the age starts to show. Owners on VWVortex report problems with coolant leaks, water pump issues, and front struts. Those are all fairly affordable and typical maintenance items, so nothing of major note to consider. The coolant reservoir and piping is an annoying issue, but not prohibitive to refresh. But issues with rust around the hatch and fenders will be hard to deal with, so be on the lookout if you’re seriously considering one of these, especially in Northern climes.

A used MK5 R32 is more fun than it costs

Typical aged European car problems aside, the MK5 R32 is well worth the affordable asking price. Some DIY maintenance and aftermarket supporting modifications will make your life easier. Along the way, you’ll have an engaging and punchy hatchback with a head-turning exhaust note and unending style. Not bad for 15 grand.

Related The 2008 Volkswagen R32 Is a High-Performance Hot Hatch Bargain

The 2008 Volkswagen R32 Is a High-Performance Hot Hatch Bargain