As far as unassuming cars go, the 2004 Volkswagen R32 easily tops the list of all-time greats. For a car which came with an original price tag of around $30,000 and performance borrowed from Audi wrapped in the subtle design of the fourth generation Golf, it’s difficult to beat.
After gaining immense popularity in Europe, VW decided to bring the R32 over to the States and nearly sold out within its first year of availability. On the outside, there’s not much to differentiate the R32 from the base-level Golf, but underneath it has every performance option VW had available at the time, some of which came directly from the Audi TT.
Up front, the R32 gets power from the same 3.2-Liter VR6 found in the TT, which sent 238 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque through a six-speed manual to all four wheels. Volkswagen rebadged the AWD system as 4Motion, but it’s identical to Audi’s Quattro. The R32 also borrowed TT’s suspension geometry. With all this performance hidden in an affordable Golf package, you’d think tens of thousands of R32s would roam the streets across America, but only 5,000 examples were allocated to the US, this one is one of 750 to wear Black magic Pearl paint. So along with the cult status, the R32 also carries a little bit of a collector car edge.
Volkswagen has a history of taking Audi performance parts, sending them down market and neatly wrapping them up in VW clothes — if you’re looking for a modern equivalent, the Golf R is basically an Audi RS3 in disguise. This particular is currently going for around $14,000 or half of it’s original MSRP, but if you consider the upper echelon engineering under the sheet metal, you’re looking at one hell of a performance bargain.
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