The Volkswagen Golf R Estate has at last been confirmed for an Australian launch, with the first examples to arrive around October this year.
It is the first dedicated petrol performance Golf Estate. Interestingly, Volkswagen will not bother doing a GTI version, rather it skips straight to the top.
We first saw the Golf R wagon last November at the Los Angeles motor show. Since then, Volkswagen Australia said repeatedly that it was keen on the car, but was working on a business case.
However, the green-lit Australian launch is something of a toe in the water. It will see just a few hundred examples arrive at first, and interest and demand in these will determine if it will import another batch. The company used the term 'special edition'.
Given the success of the GTI and R hatchbacks in Australia — performance Golfs make up about 20 per cent of sales — you would reasonably expect some strong interest, especially early on.
Further specific local details remain a little under wraps, though we can take a few estimated guesses.
Volkswagen Australia says it will price the car under $60,000 plus on-road costs — approximately where the mechanically similar Audi S3 Sportback starts.
Given the Golf R hatch variant retails for $55,240, and given that lesser Golf wagon variants in Australia cost $1550 more than their hatch equivalents, you might expect the price to be a little below that.
However, Volkswagen's local arm is also saying the R wagon will come with a slightly different spec level to the hatch, though it is holding back on the specifics. Perhaps features that are extras on the hatch, such as the $1850 sunroof or $3150 leather seats, might be standard?
Technically speaking, the Golf R wagon is mechanically identical to the hatch. This means that power comes from the familiar EA888 206kW/380Nm (the latter between 1800and 5500rpm) 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine.
European versions get 221kW, but Volkswagen detunes the engine to deal with Australia's hot climate. This is a directive from global headquarters, and not a decision of Volkswagen Australia.
All versions will come standard with a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic with paddles. No manual will be offered anywhere in the world.
Power is channeled to the 19-inch wheels via a 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. It sends all power to the front in relaxed situations, but can redirect 50 per cent of torque to the rear on asphalt if needed.
This process requires use of a fifth-generation Haldex clutch to couple with the rear. It works in tandem with Volkswagen's XDL system that brakes the inside wheels and redirects power and torque to the outside, thereby minimising understeer.
It also gets a handful of driving modes including Race, which sharpens up the throttle and DSG mapping, firms up the dampers and relaxes the parameters of the ESC. Said ESC is also fully switchable, so you can turn it off on circuits.
The main areas where the R wagon differs from the hatch are its length 4596mm (about 300mm longer, all behind the rear axle) and the subsequent boost in storage. You can also store 605 litres with the seats up (only 380L in the hatch), or 1620L with them folded.
Volkswagen claims an identical top speed of 270km/h, albeit one that it governs to 250km/h. The 0-100km/h time of 5.1 seconds using the DSG's launch control system is 0.1s slower than the hatch.
What do you think of the Golf R wagon? We have recently driven this new variant ahead of its Australian launch, and will publish a quick first drive review on Thursday this week.