We’ve seen it testing and we didn’t believe our eyes, but it is now true; Volkswagen has created a hot wagon. That’s right, the Golf R now has a station wagon body, which VW calls the Variant. What’s odd about this car is that most station wagons are made only for Europe these days, particularly those of the performance variety, but this peppy grocery getter is making its world debut at the LA Auto show. This makes me wonder if this is a sign that VW is considering offering it in the U.S., or is it simply showing its face in LA because it’s the last major show of 2014? I think it’s more of the latter, but we can dream, right?
Onto the car at hand: the 2015 Volkswagen Golf R Variant. On the outside, it is your typical, unassuming Golf Variant, but with a body kit similar to the one found on the Golf R. This kit includes an R-design front and rear bumpers, a high-gloss black diffuser, and “aero flaps” on the D-pillars. Also distinguishing the R from the of Golf Variants is are four chrome exhaust tips, cherry-red taillights, LED license plate lights, an R-design radiator grille, bi-xenon headlights, U-shaped LED daytime running lights, “R” logos on the fenders, matte-chrome mirror caps, 19-inch aluminum wheels, and R-badged calipers.
Inside the cabin, the R additions continue with cloth- and Alcantara-wrapped sports seats, crystal gray contrast stitching, an “R” logo on the headrests, blue ambient lighting, the Composition Touch infotainment system, a leather-wrapped three-poke steering wheel with an “R” logo on the lower crossbar, and exclusive gauges that include a blue tach and a 199-mph speedometer that does one complete sweep when the car is started. What makes the Golf R Variant unique is its ability to haul up to 21.4 cubic feet of cargo with the rear seats up and 57.2 cubes with the rear seats folded flat.
What really gets VW fans going is what’s under the hood, and that’s the EA888 engine tuned to deliver 296 horsepower from 5,500 to 6,200 rpm and 280 pound-feet of torque from 1,800 to 5,500 rpm. This powerful four-pot mates to a six-speed, DSG dual-clutch transmission that delivers power to all four wheels through VW’s 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system, which has a front-wheel bias under normal driving conditions — the rear axle is actually decoupled to save fuel. This drivetrain combines to get the Golf R Variant to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 5.1 seconds and to a top speed of 155 mph.
With the Golf R Variant also comes an ESC Sport mode that is activated via a switch on the center console. When pressed, this switch temporarily overrides the stability control to allow for higher thresholds before the nannies kick and take away the fun. Also included is the Driver Profile Selector and DCC active damping. With the DPS and DCC, drivers can choose from five drive modes: Eco, Individual, Race and Comfort.
The Golf R Variant hits European showrooms in the spring of 2015, but there are still no details on possible U.S. availability.