420 HP Golf R: Why It's Not Going to Happen

Every Golf GTI, GTD or R owner in the world probably knows about the extreme-looking R400 Concept Volkswagen presented at the Beijing Auto Show back in April. As the name suggests, this supercar of the hot hatch segment came with 400 horsepower under its bonnet, 100 more than a regular R.
Ideas like that are sure to capture everybody's imagination and with that in mind, many publications were not shy to claim that a production version was on the way. A few months ago, they were even so bold as to claim that the RS3 and TT-RS will have 2-liter, 420 horsepower engines. This notion has been contradicted by Audi officials, but it hasn't stopped Car Magazine from publishing a report yesterday that said the R400 will make its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

As if that wasn't bold enough, they suggested power would be bumped all the way to 420 hp, 20 more than the concept. Citing company insiders, the British publication painted a clear picture of the car that included all-wheel drive, cosmetic upgrades and a price tag in the region of €50,000.

The notion of a Golf with more power than a Porsche 911 Carrera S is wonderful. But that's not the way this industry works and I just couldn't live with myself if I didn't say anything.

The first big problem with tuning a 2-liter turbo to 420 horsepower is reliability. Both the Golf R and Audi S3 have experienced turbo failure that many of our readers have told us about. The 360 hp Mercedes A45 AMG also had its fair share of oil leaks and blown gaskets.

The second question is how do you actually do it? How do you get 420 hp into a Golf? You can't just slap a rally-spec turbo onto a 2-liter engine and expect it to work on the road. The lag would be huge.

Audi knows this and has kept its famous 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine for the RS3. They also showed a 420 horsepower concept car (the TT quattro sport) with a 2-liter engine, but publicly admitted they can't put it into production yet.

“I think one of our aims is to go on with the tradition of the five-cylinder. Of course we showed also the one four-cylinder TT with 420hp (313kW). The problem is when you’re in daily use you need torque more than power and if you blow up these 2.0-lire four cylinder [engines] you get this problem of reduction of torque at low revs so we think the five cylinder is the best option," said Heinz Hollerwerger, the boss of Audi's go-fast division, explaining why the RS3 will stick with a 2.5 TFSI.

Speaking of that car, the RS3 should make its debut around March-April 2015. It will boast 367 hp and should cost more than the €50,000 of a TTS, currently the most expensive car built on the MQB platform.

So how could Volkswagen undercut its sister brand with a Golf R that offers over 50 extra hp from a smaller engine and undercuts it in terms of price? Rhetorical question.

The most powerful Golf ever made would need at least 1 year of track testing to ensure the engine doesn't blow up. And yet nobody has seen any VWs whistling like 80s rally cars recently. Volkswagen doesn't even need to build something this outrageous. The Golf is a volume car with over 30 million built in 4 decades. There's no need to rock the boat and turn a family car into a Porsche 911 rival.
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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