Richter likens R to quattro GmbH, although he admits R is only halfway through its seven-year development plan.
The Golf R is familiar to us, as are the R-Line Editions, but Richter wants to push the division’s motorsport activities as well. He’s trying to make a more obvious connection between what happens on the track and to the VW model range. Or off the track, in the case of the World Rally Championship-winning Polo, and Richter is pushing VW to allow him to produce a road-going version of it…
In fact, there are Polo R prototypes testing, and they were in action on the frozen lake prior to our arrival. Richter and a handful of VW Group bigwigs – including Porsche’s Matthias Muller – were assessing the Polo R on ice. Richter is keen to get approval from his colleagues. “It has to be four-wheel drive,” Richter told us, but this required substantial engineering to the rear floorpan and suspension.
Apparently, the rest of the Polo R’s specification is fairly straightforward: a modified Golf R 4Motion system allied to a detuned EA888 2.0-liter, four-cylinder TSI turbo engine. In the VW Golf it has 300hp, but the smaller, lighter Polo “should be somewhere between 240 and 250hp,” according to Richter.
The company would need to sell around 5000 cars for the Polo R to make sense, and Richter is bullish, believing there’s demand for such a machine. That, and even more extreme versions of existing models… In fact, rumor has it there’s a lighter, more focused Golf R “Evo” ready to be revealed later this year.
As for the “regular” Golf R, which we’re here to drive, Richter boldly claims it’s on par with the previous generation Type-997 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 as a driving experience.
That’s an extremely confident statement, and one that remained unchallenged during our first experience behind the wheel since VW had chosen a frozen lake for our first impressions.
Why should you love it?
A frozen lake prepared expressly for our driving enjoyment isn’t the best place to form an unbiased, realistic opinion of a car’s road-going abilities or day-to-day livability. So far as we can tell, though, the Golf R is an absolute blast — and our encounter in Arvidsjaur has left us eager to test its mettle in warmer surroundings now that the air is finally starting to lose its winter edge.
If it’s as well-balanced, confidence-inspiring and flat-out fun on a twisty gravel trail as it is on ice, the Golf R shouldn’t have any trouble chasing down its slightly heavier and more powerful mark.