We’re no strangers to fast Golfs. Light, powerful and sexy, the first GTI-badged Golf went down a storm in 1983 and remains just as popular today. Later came the R32s and subsequent R versions, sporting muscly V6s and turbocharged 2.0L engines that turned the hot Golfs into properly track-worthy beasts.
Now, they've gone even further. The fastest, most powerful version ever has been spotted testing at the Nürburgring: meet the R400. Featuring a heavily modified version of the existing R model’s 2.0L, it produces a ridiculous 400 brake horsepower. That’s enough to propel it from 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds (to match an Aston Martin V12 Vantage) and on to a top speed of 174 mph. One hundred and seventy four. In a golf.
While it shares parts with the blisteringly fast Audi RS3 and TTS, there’ll also be new pistons, a new exhaust system and a new powertrain – plus a bigger intercooler – all of which will come together to deliver an anticipated 450 Nm of torque. It’s likely to retain the same six-speed semi-automatic gearbox of the R too.
It looks very much like the standard R model, although the eagle-eyed will notice beefier brakes (thankfully) behind a set of larger special edition alloys and a wider, subtly detailed bodykit. Otherwise though, this could be mistaken for any of the other mid-range family four-doors waiting outside the school gates.
The price is thus far unclear; we don’t yet know whether the R400 will be mass-produced or only a limited edition model. However, it’s rumoured to be hitting the market for less than €50,000 in Europe, suggesting an on the road price of around £40,000 in the UK – far less than almost anything else producing such staggering power. Demand is guaranteed to be high – and we’ll be the first in line. It looks like VW just raised the stakes.