“Unbelievable” sales of the new-generation Golf R the world over means Volkswagen is thinking about just how broad it can go with its performance range.
Volkswagen AG’s board member in charge of powertrain development, Dr Heinz-Jakob Neusser, told Australian media recently that the “emotional” R brand could spread to models such as the next-generation Polo or brand new Passat, or anywhere else for that matter.
“It’s possible for everywhere. It’s only a question of power and price range,” he said.
“We are selling so many [Golf Rs] and the customer feedback is so positive, it gives us now the idea to think about other R models. It’s only a question of whether the market is willing to take the car and, from our side, whether it’s commercially attractive to make it,” he later added.
Spy images we ran back in March show us a Golf R wagon is already underway as the next cab off the rank.
“We have had a lot of success with the R models, because the R models are very emotional,” Neusser said, adding that he personally “liked” the idea of R models and the potential they had to rub some magic dust on VW’s safe but hardly sexy image.
“The typical R models — from the technology side, the engine side — are at the highest level we can achieve, as we showed with Golf R 400.
“We get a lot of positive resonance out of the market and, perhaps soon, we will see other R models. But it’s always a question if the market is able to use the car, if they find them attractive. But yes, in principle it’s always possible to do it.”
Volkswagen previously launched an ultra-limited run of 2500 Polo R WRC models to comply with FIA regulations allowing it to compete in the World Rally Championship, but this was considered a special, rather than series, production run.
Such a vehicle would be similar in concept to the Audi S1, though Neusser hinted it would not arrive until the next-generation due in about 2016. That car could potentially feature elements, such as valvetrains, inspired by subsidiary brand Ducati, an expert on small-displacement engine. (The teaming-up of VW and Ducati was showcased at the 2014 Paris motor show with the Volkswagen XL2 Sport concept).
That said, Volkswagen will not just look at smaller R versions than the Golf. A successor for the R36 Passat is entirely possible, said Neusser, so long as market demand exists.
“We also have six-cylinder engines which fit longitudinally across the car and these can always be turbocharged, which means there is no limit. The question is do we need a six-cylinder?”
“It’s a question of power and torque. With too much you can’t get the traction, which is why we have 4Motion in the toolkit, the platform system, and in each car this is possible.”
Beyond the Golf R, Volkswagen also offers globally the Scirocco R coupe, based on the Mk6 Golf. That car will re-launch in Australia this month.