Tips, Tricks & Trends

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

The Volkswagen GTI is credited with being the original “hot hatchback” as its fun-to-drive nature was attribute to its high-performing four-cylinder engine, small dimensions, and stellar handling capabilities. However, what happens when you add a bigger engine and all-wheel drive? You get a Volkswagen R32.

The Volkswagen R32 first appeared for the 2004 model year and utilized the brand’s stout VR6 engine. However, for the 2008 model year, Volkswagen tweaked the engine a little and made the R32 more powerful and more capable than ever. And now, on the used market, the 2008 Volkswagen R32 is more affordable than ever.

Super rabbit

The 2008 Volkswagen R32 was based on the Mk5 platform of the Golf body style. In comparison to the GTI at the time, the R32 offered about 50 more horsepower and forwent the addition of a turbocharger in favor of a bigger, narrow-angle V6 like it did in the past iteration.

The R32 was rare as Volkswagen only allotted to sell about 5,000 of them at the time and did actually develop a cult following after its departure in 2009. Hence the reason that the 2008 model is highly sought after nowadays.

2008 Volkswagen R32

Performance and drivetrain

The 2008 R32 was powered by a 3.2-liter VR6 engine that produced 250 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, which was mated to a six-speed automated manual transmission.

While enthusiasts lamented over the lack of a manual-transmission option, the R32 still didn’t disappoint when it came to driving dynamics and performance. The super hatchback was able to get up to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and down a quarter-mile in about 14.4 seconds.

For reference, it was half a second quicker to 60 than its GTI counterpart and 0.3 seconds quicker down the drag strip. The improved performance was attributed to the car’s improved, and stiffer, suspension setup and the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. Which is known as “Quattro” in another brand.

2008 Volkswagen R32

Body

The 2008 Volkswagen R32 was only offered in a two-door hatchback body style. While a four-door variant might have boosted sales, thanks to more practicality, Volkswagen decided to stick with a sportier two-door format, possibly for the looks.

The rest of the R32’s body looked entirely similar to the Volkswagen GTI except for the center-mounted dual exhaust tips, multi-spoke 18-inch wheels, bi-xenon headlights, and R32 badging.

2008 Volkswagen R32

Fuel economy

Considering that the R32 used an all-wheel-drive system and a heavier engine, it ended up being a little over 300 pounds heavier than the GTI at the time. As such, fuel economy took a little bit of a hit at the R32 was rated at 18 in the city and 23 on the highway.

By comparison, the GTI achieved 22 in the city and 29 on the highway.

Get one while you can

The 2008 Volkswagen R32 models are becoming more and more scarce as time goes on, so it’s a great time to pick one up now. When it was new, the R32 retailed for around $32,000, which was $10,000 more than the GTI.

While that might not have been worth it then, it’s definitely worth it now as you can find them on the used market for anywhere between $7,000 and $18,000 depending on the location, condition, and mileage of the car.

That’s a great bargain, considering you’re getting a fun, sporty hatchback that has loads of performance and can be driven in all types of weather.